Beginning a new project can be an intimidating task. It could be that the brief isn’t clear, or the sheer scale and size of the project could be overwhelming. It is your role as a Project Manager to minimise uncertainty and obtain all the information required for the business to make an informed choice about whether they want to go ahead or not. Once this has been agreed, the project’s objective needs to be understood and a plan on how to get there developed.
But, how do you establish what has been done, if anything, before you? How does your project fit into the bigger strategic picture? How do you make sure you have stakeholder buy-in?
Read our 7 top tips on getting your project off to the best start possible:
It is important that at the start of the project you find out all the information you can about the project. Speak to people who have been involved in the decision making – establish WHY the project is required. This will help you understand the rationale behind what you are going to deliver. Don’t be surprised if there isn’t much information available. You are there to help fill the gaps.
Once you have understood the background of the project, the benefit of doing the activity needs to be established. These could be financial, but, could equally be other types of benefits (for example, improving the customer journey). If the benefits have already been outlined before you get involved in the project, make sure they are fully understood, so you know how you’re contributing to the business – it helps you focus on why you’re doing the project.
You should be in a position where you understand why you are completing the project. Now it’s time to understand what you’re going to deliver in order to meet the objectives. As mentioned previously, it can be a daunting task starting a new project, but the more you can establish about what’s in scope/what’s out of scope, the more control you have as a project manager. The scope, once established, needs to be signed off by all those involved in the project.
People, people, people
People are fundamental to the success of your project, without the right individual’s onboard activities won’t get done, nor will you get the buy-in you need. Each stakeholder may need different levels of engagement, so try and establish how you should interact with them from the beginning. This will ensure you start the relationship right. Scheduling an initial kick-off meeting can help with making sure roles and responsibilities are outlined and clear from the beginning of the project.
The scope has been defined as have the individuals, now you can work together to break the project down into manageable tasks. A common pitfall of Project Managers is to try and establish what these tasks are without getting the input from the business, and specifically, the individuals involved. Make sure the tasks identified are manageable and they all contribute to the overall aim of the project and the associated timelines are realistic. Calendars, timeframes and task lists must be perfectly organised from the very beginning in order to give the team the best start possible.
Ways of working
As soon as the people involved have been identified and the tasks they are going to deliver have been documented, your role as a Project Manager is to provide the mechanism to make sure that things get delivered on time, to scope and budget. For this to happen, you need to make sure you have an effective team. The way you will work together as a team needs to be established – teamwork makes the dream-work! Whether you follow a set methodology or take some key principles from each one, adapt it to meet the needs of the people and project. Have a think and decide from the beginning how you want to manage the project, there is no right or wrong answer about whether you use a comprehensive tool, or use a Spreadsheet, as long as it works for you and your team.
One of the main aspects of successfully starting a project is communication. Establishing an inter-team communication approach is key, don’t be afraid to try new things to keep people engaged and on track!
When beginning a project think about the who, what, how, why, when and this should always make situations a lot clearer and manageable. Don’t get too overwhelmed with the scale, once the project is broken down into manageable chunks, it makes it seem a lot more achievable! As the Project Manager, you’re not alone – bring your team on the journey with you!
For more information, please contact us here.