Project Planning involves managing a number of interconnected elements, ensuring all the strands fit together into a seamless whole and result in the outcome you were intending. Although it might seem complicated to manage the many elements of a project, if you keep these five things in mind you will be well on the way to a successful project that comes in on, or below, budget. And as a Yorkshire Gal, bringing things in under budget is always my preferred option.
Have a plan, but don’t treat the plan as though it is a fixed thing. Most plans tend not to survive contact with the enemy and the key to bringing in a project to time and budget is flexibility. Treat your plan like a framework. Move things about within it so that time and resources, including human resources, are used to best advantage.
Dealing with Roadblocks
If you come to a road block in your project planning it is worth taking some time to step away, think things through, and consider re-jigging the plan before you press on. Sometimes you will decide that pressing on is the right thing to do, particularly if there is no way to get around the road block. However, before you decide to press on, are you sure there is no way around that road block? An old boss of mine used to tell me, “If you come to a wall, walk along a bit. You might find you can go around it, rather than forcing your way through it.” Sometimes, brainstorming some ideas with your team, or just leaving the problem for a few hours, can result in an innovative solution coming to you which will allow you to go around rather than pushing on through and is often a better solution than the original one.
When planning a project of any kind, remember to take account of contingencies and build in some wiggle room for delays and problems. Wiggle room allows you to deliver problem projects bang on target, and routine projects early. And what client doesn’t love, and provide glowing testimonials about, companies who deliver well within the timescale?
Remember: “Never launch into a project with aggressive randomness. Always take time to examine the project parameters first.” This is a direct quote from a tutor I studied with a good few years ago. It made me laugh then and it makes me laugh now.
How many times have you had an idea and then set off to implement it, without examining what will be needed? For example: you get up one morning, look at the bathroom ceiling and decide it needs painting. You rush off to the DIY shop and buy paint. When you get home and go into the garage to get the painting tools you find five litres of white emulsion you forgot you had bought, a broken roller tray, brushes with clumped together bristles and a rather sad, bald looking roller. So, you trot off to the DIY shop again. You buy a roller sleeve but decide to save money by not buying the cage and handle because you already have that. You get some brushes and the roller tray and return the white paint from that morning. When you get home the roller doesn’t fit the handle and you have to go back to get a new handle after all. One initial trip to the garage to check on stocks and equipment, and perhaps a decision to take the roller handle with you to the shop, would have saved petrol, time, frustration and money.
Cost control is always a critical part of project planning and it can spiral out of control if it’s not managed. DIY projects tend to be particularly prone to costing way more than you expect and taking twice as long as you expected. This is because things always go wrong when we do things which we are not experienced in, or qualified to carry out.
Sometimes, it is cheaper and easier to outsource tasks. Often it takes less time for an experienced person to complete tasks. They will have the ability to apply tips and tricks learned over a number of years. I’m not that good at DIY projects. I am, however, brilliant at administration projects with a lot of experience of project planning and a number of tips and tricks in my arsenal that can save my clients time. Here you can read about just one of the projects I’ve successfully completed for clients.
If you have an admin project you are looking to complete and you want it to come in to time, and budget, why not get in touch with me. I can take on projects of all sizes from getting individual inboxes under control to the creation of processes and procedures ready for a small business to be scaled.