When you say the word PROJECT, so many people appear to think of the end result of something and not what needs to be accomplished to reach the end result.
Recently I have been helping deal with a project that hasn't been going as well as it should have been. Now the biggest issue I can see is that the project wasn't looked at as a project but just a deadline that things needs to be done by. Yes, things needed to be done but they were not outlined in a manner that meant they could be done and tracked. Now add to the issue that there was a couple of holidays in the middle of when things needed to be done and a lot of people were also on vacation during this time. Yes, the project deadline was during the Holiday season.
There are so many different ways to handle a project and everyone does handle them a little differently. For me, when I think of a project, I automatically think of all the different little things that need to be done to ensure the deadline is met. Here is a list of some of the things that I would be doing when finding out there was a project that needs to be completed.
What is the hard deadline that needs to be met?
What can effect the deadline actually being met? (eg. Statutory holidays, office closure, etc)
What external skills are required and when are they required.
What is the deadline that I am setting to ensure the hard deadline is met even if delays are incurred?
What tasks do you want to accomplish that use the new project results and when do you want to complete these tasks?
What are all the steps required to accomplish the project.
Now this is just a simple list of the items that I would start documenting so that I could see how I was going to meet the deadline that has been set. In #4, what I am saying is that it is always good to set yourself a deadline prior to the hard deadline that you are going to aim for. This also means that you are giving yourself time to deal with the unexpected issues that could arise and slow down or delay the actual project.
The best way to deal with a project is once you have figured out the deadline that you are setting for yourself is then to work back from there and look at all the pieces that are needed to ensure the project is completed. When I am writing down the steps that are required to complete a project, I really don't care, how small a step it, I am going to write it down so that it isn't missed. It is amazing how some of the smallest steps can be missed which can have a big impact on the project getting completed.
There are always times when steps are going to be missed when dealing with external skills but at least knowing that you are going to need them and ensuring they are available is always helpful. Making sure that your skills are lined up will make it so much easier when the time comes when you need them to actually do the work. It is better to have more skills lined up then you think you need because you never know when a problem will arise and you need that extra skill.
Of course, everyone is going to have a different way of working through a project but this is just an outline that I would use to ensure that deadlines are met. Making sure that you give yourself time in case of delays is always good. It is always better to finish something before the hard deadline than miss the hard deadline and deal with all the issues that will arise.
Now, it is time for me to go and write up a complete report on the project that I was brought in to assist with when the hard deadline was going to be missed. I think we are moving forward and have saved the project.