Starting a new project can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Without proper planning and preparation, a project can quickly become chaotic and fail to meet its objectives. That’s why it’s crucial to have a well-defined plan and clear next steps in place before you begin. In this blog post, we’ll share some tips and strategies for kicking off a successful project.
1. Create a Comprehensive Project Plan
A project plan outlines the tasks and activities needed to achieve the project objectives, spaced out across time so all team members understand when those tasks need to be completed. Project planning allows teams to examine strategies critically, breaking big ideas into minute details so that production runs smoothly.
Every project comes with risks, and it’s essential to identify them before they become an issue. This involves brainstorming potential risks and developing mitigation strategies to prevent them from occurring. Through effective planning, you can minimize these challenges’ impact on your team and move the work forward easefully.
2. Build the Right Team
When onboarding team members, it is crucial that they know what they’re responsible for, how much time they are to allot to the work, and the duration of their time on this project. This helps prevent issues like missed deliverables or overlapping duties down the line. It’s also crucial to have a project manager who will be responsible for overseeing the project; guaranteeing deliverables and deadlines; and along with their Client Services counterparts, ensuring that client needs are being met.
3. Identify Outstanding Questions
Building a project plan allows teams to identify points of confusion and / or where further detail is required. Without delving into all the minutiae, one can overlook crucial information that could change not only time and effort allotted to a project, but even its overall scope.
Keep track of these questions as you build your plan, identify areas of the plan that cannot be finalized until your questions are answered, and determine who you need to consult to receive these answers. Your next step will be briefing the rest of your team in and making sure that all move forward with clarity.
4. Loop Team in At Right Time (And in the Right Way)
No project plan is complete until “blessed” by the production leads that will be overseeing its implementation. Well before the official kickoff process, team members should be familiar with and assented to the project tactics and hours.
As soon as a client approves a project plan, it is a priority to begin work as soon as possible, and project managers can help make this happen by delineating action items ahead of time. If possible, prepare the relevant team members by sharing these action items before client approval so that they are ready to spring into action quickly.
Once we’re primed to begin, a project manager is responsible for ensuring that all team members understand:
- Client background
- Client goals & objectives
- Project plan details
- Role & responsibilities
- Unique challenges
- Outstanding questions
- Action items, and their most immediate deadlines
5. Set Clear Action Items & Next Steps
Lean into the natural momentum of a project kickoff by ensuring action items are clear, concise, and immediately codified. This is where planning and preparation can set you up for success! Assuming you have mapped out project tasks and deadlines in a project management system, all you should have to do is assign tasks to their respective team members (and ensure they have the access needed to see these assignments).
Avoid delays in kicking off new projects, and if there are any pieces of work that cannot work until your client completes an action item, ensure this is communicated as quickly and as clearly as possible.
6. Communicate Clearly and Regularly
Allocating time for regular discussion helps the team stay informed and makes it easier to proactively identify challenges. Establish a regular cadence for meetings, status reports, and updates to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Set clear expectations around how you will communicate and what you expect from others, and make sure that you are upholding these expectations unless your team identifies better ways to keep everyone in the loop.
Kicking off a successful project requires careful planning and preparation. By creating a thoughtful project plan, establishing roles and responsibilities, identifying outstanding questions, looping your team in at the right time, establishing clear action items, and communicating regularly, you can set your project up for success. Remember, taking the time to plan and organize in the early stages of a project pays off in the end. Good luck!