When a business unit fails to timely and successfully execute the Project assignment, everyone suffers. The manager is left with trying to pick up the pieces and may suffer a loss of reputation and confidence if the job was not accomplished as planned. The business unit team suffers because extra work and effort will be required to fix or re-do the assignment. Their morale may be negatively affected and they may lose confidence in their manager. The company suffers because they did not reap the benefit of a well executed project of importance to the business.
Poor project planning is at the heart of many unsatisfactory project execution results. In the end, the manager gets the blame or takes the hit for failing to reaching the objectives. Of greater concern, the manager and team may look in all the wrong places to determine what went wrong. Finger pointing ensues and people run for cover. The real villain may be the Project Plan itself. Where the manager and business unit develop a well thought out Plan of Action and the manager delegates effectively, execution improves dramatically.
The solution, based on real world experience, is to utilize 7 Key Steps in the process of developing and executing dynamic project assignments.
- Start with Super-Clear Objectives – the Manager must put together a crystal clear description of the ultimate project objective. What is the desired Outcome? How do you describe the desired objective in powerful and clear language? Don’t just repeat or use what senior management communicated. Know your team…how would you best detail the objective in a clear way that your unique team will understand.
- List Every Step – each Manager, with the help of key members of the business unit, needs to participate together in a
comprehensive project planning meeting. The purpose is to list every single action that must take place to achieve the desired project outcome. List absolutely everything. What will we do and what will we need to do it? You can go back later after the project planning meeting and combine, modify or change the specific Steps. At the outset, the more ideas the better.
- Determine the People Dynamics – the Manager makes a determination of the human resources that will be needed to execute the Project Plan. Work through the following; Are there special skills or abilities needed for special tasks? Will outside people, specialists or consultants be needed? Well any of your Action Steps provide a training opportunity for specific individuals within the business unit? Will you need mentors or trainers to help with the assignment learning experience?
- Resource Requirements – determine what resources (materials, technology, people, time, etc.) will be required to carry out each action step. Make sure that the scheduled time for needing the resources has been determined. It is also a good idea to have a back-up plan for resources in case you hit a snag in obtaining resources when needed.
- Set Time-lines & Milestones - the Project Plan should not only have a final due date but also interim success dates. These are check-points along the way where progress needs to be reviewed. If the project has several major sub-set actions that need to be completed at a certain time in order for other phases of the Action Plan to move forward, establish these as “milestone” dates.
- Key Task Delegation – in many important projects, there will be certain tasks/assignments that are key or pivotal to the success of the Plan.These game maker assignments will need to have a more detailed plan of delegation. The time spent digging deeper into the specifics of these key steps and how best to clearly delegate them will pay big dividends in project execution.
- Track, Track, Track – the dedication and focus placed on tracking each step in the plan and staying right on top of progress always separates the good manager from the great manager. I refer to this as “examining what you want to execute.” The strength and intensity of the manager’s focus will create urgency, expectations and energy to the completion of assignments. Problems can be uncovered quickly and fixed. Delays can be avoided. Back-up plans can be called into action and positive reinforcement provided.
These 7 Key Steps to Project Planning will provide the manager with every assurance that a solid Plan of Action has been established. Ideas and suggestions have been incorporated and every possible contingency has been thought through. This process avoids the most common pitfalls that cause the execution of projects to come up short. Everyone involved will have a sense of confidence and commitment to the well designed plan. The vast majority of potential negative consequences have been accounted for excepting the totally unexpected things out of any one’s control. It is a bit old school but it is absolutely true…”success is where preparation meets opportunity.”
Where a manager and business unit find themselves falling short on the execution of key assignments, the resulting negative outcomes are usually due to a poorly constructed Plan of Action. The next time an important project or assignment comes up, go diligently go through the 7 Key Steps to Project Planning….Plan It & Execute It! For more information and a Free “Project Development Scratch Pad” that will fully support the 7 Key Steps, feel free go to our Web-site and use the sign-up form.