Struggling to decide on a strategy to use for long-term projects? Our tips will help you to get onto the right track.
Each project you need to manage entails certain limitations, challenges and threats. The longer it takes to complete, the more complex it becomes. This is why you need to make sure you make all the right decisions when it comes to choosing the best strategy.
Sometimes, you even have to rethink the approach and possibly even abandon a project or at least adopt a completely new approach. Needless to say, that leads to a loss of focus, the slowing of progress, a lack of results and a waste of precious time, which might lead to deadlines being broken. That’s why a good project manager has to be ready for almost every eventuality, but they also have to do their best to eliminate as many problems as possible in the preparation stage.
The goal of each project is basically the same: you need to have a productive journey and a successful arrival at the planned destination, but the more distant the destination, the more difficult it is to stay focused. To help you choose the best strategy for long-term projects, we have prepared the following tips which should help you reach your goals.
Your plan should start at the end for long-term projects
Though it may seem illogical, you might want to try planning from the end. What happens is that people often overlook some important factors and decisive events from the beginning of the project and find it difficult to work their way towards the deadline, which is one of the most solid facts you can build upon. So, developing a project backwards makes sense, especially when it comes to planning checkpoints and deadlines for specific tasks within the project.
Start from the final deadline and list all the steps that need to be taken for the project to be completed. Then work your way backwards, starting from the last step, and make realistic time estimations. It is a good idea to bring all the stakeholders together at this point so that they can provide some valuable input regarding the tasks and deadlines. This will help you gather all the needed information and also boost the attitude of everyone involved in the process.
What kind of goals should you set?
Setting goals to track progress is vital for long-term projects. Once you have your timetable sorted out and agreed upon, make sure you establish small milestones. Milestones are actually waypoints that help you meet scheduled deliverables by their due dates.
However, your goals need to be SMART, i.e. specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Such goals will help you measure success as the project is implemented. It also makes it much easier to identify any adjustments you should make in order to stay on track.
Use the right tools
Having a great plan and realistic deadlines will mean nothing unless you choose the right tools for your project. Luckily, you can now rely on many great online and other tools that can help you streamline the project and guide it to a successful ending. Let’s say you need to obtain information about a certain item published by various media in New Zealand in order to keep abreast with the latest trends and developments. Instead of wasting your time and human resources on research, you can turn to professionals with the right media monitoring tools who can provide the needed data for you to make informed decisions.
Similarly, there are many collaborative online tools that you can use to facilitate communication between everyone involved. It’s also useful to keep track of priorities and share valuable information with all the relevant stakeholders. Basically, you have to explore and exploit all options that can help you manage long-term projects and we are privileged to be living in the era where so many tools are available for almost any kind of task you might need.
Seeking help for long-term projects
Asking for help should not be seen or perceived as a sign of weakness, but rather as your wish to make sure you make the right calls. That’s why you should never feel reticent to ask for assistance or advice when you come across a very difficult obstacle. Finding the right people to help you will make your job easier. It will also do wonders for team spirit. After all, one of the most important characteristics of every great project manager is that they know when and where to ask for help.
When seeking assistance you have to be clear and precise. Especially when it comes to what kind of problem you’re facing and what you want to achieve. Communication is the key element of every collaboration. This is why you need to make sure there are communication channels available to you 24/7.
Managing long-term projects is very difficult. It’s probably not something that people with no experience should choose as their first task. Learning the ropes by working on smaller projects with shorter deadlines is the best way to kick-start your career as a project manager. Do this before you move on to long-term ones.
However, even when you get to manage such a project, these tips should be revisited and followed if you want your project to be a success.
Watch this space for updates in the Hacks category on Running Wolf’s Rant.