Project management can often become time-consuming and frustrating for everyone involved. Project managers may struggle to understand what each employee is accomplishing, workers might not fully understand their job duties, and meanwhile, clients have no idea when they will receive the finished product.
Without proper planning, documenting, and reporting, even a simple project can quickly run off the rails. Luckily, enforcing a basic 3-pillar system of project management can ensure that your next work project goes smoothly, encourages communication, and allows everyone to stay up-to-date with their requirements and progress.
Before you even begin a project, you must sit down and take time to fully plan out the process. If you neglect the planning process, you will have no idea what expectations to set, how to explain the project to your team or set up any concrete guidelines and estimates. A lack of planning can cause confusion in the workplace while leaving your client in the dark, wondering if your company is capable of taking on their vision.
One great way to create a strong project plan is to keep the SMART framework in mind. This basic guideline will make sure that your project is:
- Specific. Clearly, state what the end goal of the project entails. This will ensure that there is no miscommunication between you and the client, and your team will have a general idea of what tasks they need to complete.
- Measurable. Try to give your client concrete descriptions of how long the project will take to complete and an accurate estimate of cost up front. It’s greatly appreciated if you can describe the project in concrete numbers and data instead of vague or subjective descriptions.
- Acceptable. Before you put the project into motion, double-check with the customer to make sure you fully understand what they are asking of your company. Misunderstandings only lead to wasted time, frustrated customers, and wasted resources, so clearing up any confusion right away should be your main priority during the planning process.
- Realistic. It can be tempting to push your team to get a project completed as quickly as possible in order to satisfy a major client, but this can lead to added stress in the workplace as employees scramble to complete their assignments. Rushing through a project may also lead to more mistakes and a higher cost in the end.
- Time-based. Create a set deadline for the project’s completion date before you even put the project in motion. If you must end up changing the deadline, be sure to notify the client as soon as possible.
Throughout the project, it is absolutely crucial that everyone on the team understands the importance of documenting their daily tasks. If documentation doesn’t occur, or if it’s spotty at best, how can you explain to the customer where your team is at during the process? How can you prove that every employee completed each requirement asked of them if there is no documentation of them doing their work?
To avoid mistakes or miscommunication when it comes to documenting objectives, be sure to:
- Make your expectations clear.
- Create a simple system for documenting tasks.
- Encourage daily documentation in order to obtain the most accurate data.
- Clear up any employee questions before implementing the new process.
If you have ensured that accurate documentation occurred throughout the project, then reporting should be a breeze! The report is essentially a narrative delivered to the client that describes what the project consisted of, what steps were taken to ensure excellent quality and the results of the final project. Without a detailed report, the client can create the narrative themselves; they may not fully understand why a project took longer than they expected, or they could underestimate the amount of work that went into the final product.
When clients receive a detailed report of their project, they will feel like your company truly cares about their needs and they will greatly appreciate your transparency. A report will allow them to see “behind the scenes” of the process it took to complete their final request, so they can immediately see that all of their requests were addressed and met. To create a winning report to boost customer loyalty, be sure to include the following aspects:
- An overview or summary of the project.
- Measurable details, including the project timeline and budget.
- An evaluation of how your team handled risks or unexpected problems.
- Explanation of any changes made from the original plan.
- A final assessment of the client’s product.
- Recognition for each employee’s contributions to the final product.
When you keep the customer’s needs at the forefront of project management, you can immediately begin to craft a great plan, understand what processes must be accomplished to reach the goal, and create a high-quality product guaranteed to exceed the expectation of your client!