Your new project is in its starting blocks, waiting on your desk or still something you have in mind? Here are a few tips that can help you turn your project into a successful accomplishment.
1. Define the project
The first step will be to define your project. To do this you should answer the following questions: why is this project being done? What is the end goal of this project? How am I/how is my team involved with this project? What will I/we gain from its completion?
“A goal with a plan is just a wish” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This will help you to explain the project to others, getting everyone on the same page and motivated towards the common end goal. You can also ask your collaborators the above questions in order to find out their point of view, to see if they share your vision, or to get their input on the project.
2. Define milestones
Milestones are meant to help track the overall progress of a project and to serve as turning points.
You should implement them at an early stage and communicate around them from the start, and if possible have fixed 'due' dates that you don't shift too often or by too much.
The milestones of your project can be broken down into smaller tasks, to be accomplished before the project can advance as a whole.
3. Gather the right team
If you don't already have a team, pick the people who will be the most involved with the project and its goals. This will ensure that they are motivated and that they will give the project their full effort.
If you already have a team, assign each person with a role and the responsibilities that come with it. These should be clearly defined from the start as well. Once you have a team of people that you trust enough to delegate tasks to, you can launch your project.
4. Communicate often
Good communication is essential to a project’s success. Your team should be able to share information effectively. Effective communication is based on clear and concise messages. Ensure your team communicates often, and try and encourage more team communication when necessary.
You should continuously ensure that everyone is up to date and feeling involved with the project. This is all about how you communicate with your team, and how your team members communicate among themselves
Face-to-face is the best way to get immediate input from your team. Try to meet at specific moments the project’s life: at the launch of the project, at milestones and at key turning points or for crisis management (be prepared for that). Set weekly or biweekly meetings to keep everyone up to date on the progress and on the issues you are facing or resolved.
If you collaborate remotely, you can schedule videoconferences as a substitute to face-to-face meetings, and should use a communication channel to have all team communication in the same place.
Project management tools are great for project specific communication and organization.
5. Learn from your mistakes, and other’s mistakes
We all learn from our mistakes, but learning from our collaborator's mistakes is another thing entirely.
Don't be afraid to communicate about your mistakes; your collaborators aren't there to judge you and they can learn from your experience, provided that you take the time to explain it. This step could be what makes your project go forward.
"Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself" - Eleanor Roosevelt
We are all human, and everyone makes mistakes. The sooner you communicate about it the sooner you and/or your team will be able to fix the error and learn from it.
Make sure you document everything and make it available to everyone, so that they can refer to it when the time comes. If you are the project manager, make sure all your people understand the stakes involved when taking this step.