When working on a project, the beginning is one of the most crucial yet challenges phases of the entire project. Any mistakes you make during this period can cost you and your organization significantly.
Therefore, as a project manager, you need to be extremely careful about the decisions you make at the start of every project. To ensure you make the right decisions, you need to collect as much information as you can about the project.
Read on to understand the most important factors to consider before starting a project to maximize your success rate:
Determine Project Goals
Organizational projects are of different types. Each project has its own set of requirements, including goals, deadlines, etc. For example, some project managers have to develop a mobile application, while others might need to manage a brand marketing campaign for a client. Regardless of what kind of project you get, you need to break it down into different phases, with each phase having its respective goals.
It is important to address these issues early on because they will determine the project scope, planning, and the entire workflow of the project. For instance, if you’re building a website from scratch, then you need to divide the entire project operations plan into several phases.
These steps may include project kickoff, developing the content strategy, designing wireframes, finalizing design through various iterations, developing the site design, submitting content input, testing, and then launching the website.
Breaking the project down is critical to website development and would act as milestones for the entirety of the project. Not only does it help you achieve your objectives, but it also makes it easier to implement all the project specifications within the given time.
Clarify What Is Not Part of the Project Scope
Aside from establishing project goals, determining what is not part of the project is equally important, if not more. Amidst project planning, it is easy for team members to misinterpret your instructions and consider additional objectives as part of the project.
In some cases, project managers themselves make this mistake when they don’t understand project requirements clearly. Therefore, it is extremely necessary to understand the project objectives and clarify things that are beyond the project scope.
Every project manager has to meet deadlines. If a client has not given you a deadline for the project, make sure to set one to complete the project. Having a concrete deadline helps everyone in your team remain focused on achieving the end goal. Furthermore, it makes it easier for you to allocate resources and assign tasks to ensure the project is completed in time.
This is why whenever you are starting a project, it is important to share the deadline with stakeholders – the client, team members, etc. The deadline can be either fixed or fluid (completing the project in the last quarter of the year), depending on what the client wants or their goals.
Regardless, as a project manager, you have to plan everything according to the given deadline. Planning ahead of the given deadline is a good idea, as it will give you additional time to cope with any unexpected changes that the client may ask you to incorporate into the project.
Establish Benchmarks for Success
Establishing benchmarks for success early on in the project is necessary for keeping track of project requirements and evaluating how well you have achieved them. Sometimes, goals seem straightforward at first, but as the project continues, you will discover various dimensions to the set objectives.
For instance, if you want to build an account login page for a mobile app, it seems relatively straightforward. However, this simple task can have many hidden requirements, depending on what kind of mobile application it is. A mobile app for banking services needs to have a more secure login than an app for food delivery, and you will need to limit the number of failed logins.
In such cases, simply making a login page would not satisfy the security requirements of the client and, thus, should not be considered a benchmark for success. If you establish accurate benchmarks for success before the start of the project, you can keep the project requirements in check during the execution phase.
Determining Who Has Authority
Knowing who has the final authority is essential when you are communicating with your client. Often, you will communicate with a number of different individuals, all of whom would be representing your client.
However, these individuals can put additional stress on you by asking you to do things that the client had not asked for. This is why it is important to identify who has the final authority in making decisions from your client’s team.
Following this step can help clear your doubts about what the client really wants you to deliver versus what the subordinates want you to believe. Furthermore, if you know who has authority from the client’s team, you would know whom to turn to when making critical decisions about the project.
Before you begin a project, you have to make critical decisions for your internal team. Assigning roles and responsibilities, based on merit, is the most important job of a project manager. Therefore, you need to distribute tasks according to each person’s knowledge and expertise.
As a project manager, it’s important for you to look beyond your perceptions and seek feedback from your team to identify the most capable person for a specific task. During this process, you should make it clear whether the person can complete the task under the given budget and time. You also need to see if anyone lacks certain skills or needs additional training and support.
Nevertheless, it’s difficult to know about everyone’s individual abilities, especially if you haven’t worked with them long enough. In such cases, you can take feedback from senior professionals who have worked in the same environment before.
To summarize everything, being a project manager is not easy. You need to consider several things before making any concrete decisions. However, if you dedicate the required time and effort to the project in the beginning, it will be much easier to finish the project successfully.
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