Accomplishing long-term goals for growing your business often depends on completing projects that represent manageable steps toward achieving those larger goals. For example, the project of developing a social media marketing campaign might be part of a major goal such as increasing sales by 50%. To efficiently use projects to move your company forward, you may want to engage in solid project planning and management.
Identify Your Most Important Projects
The first step in good project management is to clearly identify projects and make sure your team is focused on the most important ones. You can’t do everything all at once, so it is important to prioritize projects and ensure your efforts coincide with those established priorities.
A good method for identifying and then prioritizing projects is simply writing out all the various things your team is working on, and then grouping together and organizing tasks into specific, clearly identified project goals. For example, researching social media marketing and developing online content may be two tasks that are part of the larger project goal of developing a social media marketing campaign.
Plan Projects Out Before Beginning Work on Them
To maximize efficiency in completing projects, consider carefully mapping them out beforehand. Doing this enables you to identify exact needs and resources for the project, and helps to avoid having the project stall out due to, for example, an unanticipated expense. Sit down with your team and carefully examine proposed projects so you have a clear understanding of costs, individual tasks necessary to complete the project, the best personnel to assign to it, and potential obstacles that may arise. Planning ahead makes projects proceed much more smoothly and efficiently.
Establish Dates for Projects
It is recommended that you don’t allow projects to get bogged down by operating on an open-ended schedule. Instead, set definite start and end dates by which you can expect a project to be completed. Setting start dates for each project based on its priority allows you to schedule one project to immediately follow the completion of a necessary earlier project without wasting time. Establishing expected end dates for both tasks and projects helps keep your team focused and thereby improves the overall efficiency of completing projects.
Watch for Potential Problems
Even the best project plans usually encounter some problems along the way. You can more effectively deal with such problems if you’re already aware of some key potential problem points.
Assigning the wrong personnel to project tasks is a common issue. Have supervisors regularly review work of individuals assigned to a project so that misalignment between talent and tasks can be identified as quickly as possible.
Another common problem is projects that continue to go down a dead-end road. For example, a marketing project designed to develop a series of television ads may get stuck on pursuing a specific ad theme that simply won’t work. You want a team that is flexible enough to discard bad ideas and quickly replace them with good ones.