Project Management Checklist: 4 Ways to Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
How to avoid big surprises to stay on time and budget
It’s easy to simply say, “Do all things well and you’ll be a success.” However, there are at least four aspects of Project Management that carry more weight than others:
1. Initiate your plan
Break your plan down into workable, prioritized phases and assign resources, dependencies, time frames and costs to each. A critical component of any project is a workable, attainable plan with stakeholder support that delivers the following requirements:
- Detailed expectations and goals.
- Clear view of potential constraints.
- Well thought-out assumptions.
- Proper contingency plans.
2. Monitor and control
Once you’ve developed a solid plan, focus on tracking and implementation techniques. While others may be responsible for the collection of tracking information, such as the accounts payable specialist who processes the third-party invoices, the project manager needs to collect and record all the project details and measure them against the plan.
3. Execute your plan
One requirement of meeting the plan is knowing where all the participants stand. Are they on track? Has anyone reached an impasse? If so, how can you address it or find another way to reach the same goal? If necessary, you may even need to change the original plan. If so, how does that affect the schedule and who needs to be informed of the updated plan? Communication is a huge part of gaining and maintaining the confidence of those who may be affected by the end result and those who trusted you with the project in the first place.
On a recent project, all team members reported they were on track. However, a key stakeholder (client) expressed disappointment in how things were going and was wondering how the project could get back on track? Lesson learned – while a strong team is built on trust, a project manager must consistently follow up and know every aspect of the project status. If someone has a different opinion of what is considered “on track”, then you must work with that member so that all remain on the same page. In some cases, you may even need to replace team members who cannot conform.
Tracking the project requires talking to individual members, having update meetings and sharing status results with your stakeholders. Share lessons learned with your team and those that play key roles in project implementation to avoid repeating them.
4. Complete and assess results
Once you’ve completed project implementation, step back and assess your results against the project goals. What level of success was achieved? How did your estimated resources, time frames and costs compare to actual? What additional lessons were learned?
If you’ve been diligent in planning, project tracking, change management and communication, there shouldn’t be any big surprises – a key measure of project success.