There are 6 keys to success in any kind of project; from constructing a bridge, starting a business, or planning an event. That’s right. These are all projects by definition. A project is temporary, creates a unique product, has a beginning, and an end. Starting a business? The project is the startup. Once the business is in place and the doors are open, the project is over and operations begin.
Now that we have a common definition of “project”, here are the 6 keys.
Vision. When you close your eyes and think of the end of the project, what do you see? How do you describe it to your mother or your neighbors? You must have a clear vision of the end result before you can begin to plan or work on your project.
Pre-Planning. Before you can adequately plan your project you need to give a bit of thought to who the project might impact, or be impacted by, to include them in planning and/or communications. You also need an idea of the scope or size of the project. Is the event a 5-course sit down dinner or a potluck? How many people will you expect? Planning will go much more smoothly when began with this context in mind.
Planning. Start with the big things and breakdown to smaller pieces. Once you have an idea of that must be done, you can begin to plan for who will do what, how long it will take, what tasks or items must be done first, how much money will be involved, and build a realistic schedule and budget to get to project success. Be sure to build some extra time and dollars into your planning. Not everything will go as planned, but with a detailed plan and a little cushion, adjustments are much less stressful.
Do it. Enough said!
Monitor and control. Check your plan frequently and mark progress off as you go. You will likely run into cases where you are not able to follow the plan precisely. That is okay. The point is to plan in those changes and adjust for the impacts. This may mean changing the order and expected completion date for tasks or may mean using some of those extra dollars and time you built into the plan case. Be sure to monitor and appropriately react to new risks and issues that your project faces. Address the things that have the biggest impact on your project head on to prevent a mole hole turning into a mountain.
Reflect. The project is complete and the door is open (pick your analogy), it doesn’t matter. You are done. If the project was to create something that must be managed into the future, it is time to go into operations mode. Before you do, you will want to finish up a few things. Keep and store key information from the project. You may need to refer to it in the future and it could come in handy in helping another out with a similar project. Make notes of things you would do differently or that you did that went extremely well. This will help make your next project an even better success and again may help someone else out in the future. The most important step CELEBRATE!!!!! You deserve it.
While the above reflect a cyclical process, there is one more key to ensure project success.
Communicate. Projects usually mean change for someone or a group of people. It may be your employees, your family, your neighbors, or your customers. Begin communicating openly and honestly through all the steps from Vision to Celebration. They will then be ready for your change and may even provide some helpful insights or assistance along the way.
If this all sounds overwhelming for your project, consider further research or study in project management or working with a consultant. Project Management Professionals (PMP) are certified by the Project Management Institute© and have proven to understand the best practices of all industries for more than 40 years.