So, you need to get an essential project started but you don’t know what to do first!


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Here are my tips to getting started and managing that initial panic, when it all seems to be too much.

It’s not unusual to be in this situation. If it’s not business as usual, then you may not have done this before. But don’t panic there are some good project management principles that can help you.


Plan at leisure or act in haste?

I know leisure is not probably the best word, but the implication is here. Take some time to work out what you could do. Produce some alternative options. Test some ideas.

I find writing down the basic information and starting a Project Plan is the best way to start to formalise and order my thoughts. This is my way of managing the initial overwhelming feeling of needing to take immediate action.

Get down on paper an overview of what you are embarking on. Why has it come about? What does “good look like” at the end? How long have you got? What tangible benefits and changes will result? This is your What, Why, When. The who and how will come from this later on.

Your aim in delivering this special project is to focus on what is needed or the Scope. Start to determine what is to be physically delivered. My experience here is to look for tangibles. If you can hold it, you can deliver it. If you pick an intangible, others will argue the project’s success. For example, delivering culture change is arguable but delivering a culture policy statement and measurements of successful culture change are demonstrable.

With these in hand set out the aims and objectives of the project. What are you going to do and how will you measure it. The measures will probably include your tangible deliverables.  For example, adding new dishes to a restaurant menu, that fit with the style, cost and kitchen. Your metrics may include cost/profit analysis; the skills of the kitchen team; customer feedback in trial tastings, for instance.

All of this is about what you are looking to achieve. At no point have we delved into who is going to do the work, what tasks we will undertake or how we will go about the project. All of this has focussed attention on what the project is about.

With this you can start to engage with stakeholders to start to build the project but that is another story.

What have you achieved?

  • You know what the project is and its background.
  • You know what your aims and measurements of success are.
  • You have stated the scope and can manage scope creep.
  • You will have removed some or all of that overwhelming feeling. You can now engage with others to test your understanding and work out how you will execute the project. There is more to the project plan but for me this is the start to gaining control over the project.

I will cover development and project kick off in a future post.

As always, keep in touch. You never know there may be something we can do together. 

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