Ok so maybe you’re thinking well this is a little obvious – of course I’m going to be more successful if I plan. While this may be true, it’s important to point out that new research shows that teams that take the time to draw out a thorough project plan dramatically increases their odds of success and who doesn’t like to hear that?
We all know that in any project successes is never a guaranteed event. However, there may be some simple, straightforward steps that you and your team are overlooking. According to the Project Management Institute’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession survey, it turns out that teams that do the heavy lifting upfront and come up with a well thought out project plan have a project success rate of 71% compared to an industry standard of 64% and who doesn’t like better odds? What this means is that teams that take some time out and really think through their project ahead of time instead of during are setting themselves up for success. Now, I’m sure that if you’re like me you’re thinking that’s great but how does that help me?
Well luckily for us, Marian Haus in a post from the Project Management Institute blog outlines several keys to success that teams should focus on prior to jumping head first into their next big project. This way they are rest assured that they are setting themselves up for success.
- Develop your plan while keeping your goals in mind – As we all know the first step to help guarantee success is to plan out your project. Think of a project plan as the foundation where the entire project rests upon. Mess up here and no matter how well your team executes, you’re still facing an uphill battle. So Haus recommends always trying to keep your end goals in mind, this way you’ll eliminate project scope creep and stay true to accomplishing what needs to be done.
- Clearly define scope and requirements – What is it that you and your team is setting out to do? Not generally speaking, I mean specifics. When setting out on a project, it’s vitally important to specifically outline what it is you are doing. If you’re unable to specifically outline your team’s goals then not only do you run the risk of having the project run astray, but also it makes measuring project success tough as you don’t have a well-defined target to measure against. Additionally, Haus points out that it’s important to identify what tools you and your team must have to be equipped to be successful. If your team isn’t correctly outfitted and equipped, then achieving success is going to be that much more difficult.
- Establish a change management program – Things change, it’s inevitable. Being prepared for when that change comes, now that’s smart. Instituting a change management program will help smooth out those potentially rough spots when changes will occur. It helps keep the project moving as procedures for how to deal with change have already been outlined. Like I said, having some degree of a change management program/ procedure is just plain smart.
- Map out lines of project communication – How will communication be handled. We spent a lot of time trying to foster communicative, collaborative environments at work. Teams may be talking, but what good do they do if no one is listening? Setting up some procedures for who routing the right information to the right individual is a critical task in setting a team up for project success. It eliminates unnecessary agitation and helps keep the project pace smooth and steady.
Teams that take the time and follow through on these for steps have a much better chance of success. Everybody likes to be successful, so if you don’t yet already take some time out before you begin your next project and try really planning it out. You’ll be surprised.