First-Project Jitters? Here’s How to Deliver
You got the job, you made it through training and now you’ve been handed an awesome project. It encompasses all the things you dreamed of doing, and you can’t wait to start! There’s just one problem. How do you deliver?
Getting more responsibility in your workplace is great. It means your capabilities are trusted and you have the chance to outperform expectations and establish yourself as an outstanding employee. However, handling responsibility responsibly is a task unto itself, especially in complex, cross-functional and/or long projects.
Here are some tips to help make the task of delivering on a project easier.
Develop a Business Case
Improper or inadequate understanding of user needs is a strong reason why projects fail. Before you start, sit down and understand the need for your project. Does this need align with your department and company goals? Identify key stakeholders. Who will want to see this project complete? It may also be beneficial to do a high-level risk analysis for your business case. Assess time/cost/resource utilization against the potential benefits of the completed project.
Define the Scope
Once you have honed in on the rationale and key user groups, define the scope of your project. Scope can be broken down into two components – time and resources. How many people must be devoted to this project and for how long? Do you need special equipment or supplies? What are the individual roles and responsibilities of the people involved in the project? If you haven’t done it already, a high-level risk analysis would be helpful in weighing costs versus benefits and more accurately defining scope.
Break Down Your Game Plan
Upon assessment of scope, you should have a sense of time and personnel requirements. From here, you can break down your project plan. It often helps to break out the project into headers that are the main components of the project. Under each of these headers you can then list individual tasks. Each task should have an “owner,” someone who is responsible for completing the task, and a date of expected completion. Call out dependencies as well; if a task requires deliverables from a predecessor, then that should be clearly labeled. Be sure to consult with stakeholders. It is important that they are on the same page as you with regards to resource consumption and expected completion.
Define Your Project Goals
Creating a game plan helps you lay out major phases and constituent tasks, owners and dependencies. Take a minute to define some milestones and goals. What are the markers of completion (either phase completion or full project completion)? What is the best outcome for this project? How can this outcome be quantitatively and qualitatively measured? It’s also a good idea to set time goals on these major milestones. This will enable you to plan your process at a more granular level.
Document and Report
Document your project progress against the timeline you created in your game plan/goal definition. A helpful trick here is to use a “Planned vs. Actual” table. The planned column lists all major milestones and the dates of their planned completion. The actual column lists the same major milestones and the dates of their actual completion. If there are long delays in actual completion, provide an explanation for the delay. This chart will help you relay progress information with stakeholders and other interested parties.
Once your project is complete, set a review date. This date should be long enough after project completion so that you can properly assess project success against your project goals. Were the project goals met? Be sure to include relevant quantitative and qualitative observations when making these conclusions. Then, fill in all the stakeholders. Explain your process, goals and results. Finally, discuss your conclusions. This conclusion should include recommendations to improve results next time, even if goals were met.