Every day business owners are faced with a series of projects. Some large, some small, but all requiring some level of management to get results.
How do you keep your projects on target: moving forward, on time, and on budget? We asked Joe Gattone, a Senior Project Manager at Swift Capital with over 25 years of experience to share his insights. He’s worked on a wide range of projects from building highways to launching websites to planning his wedding.
Even if your business is not client based, you’re probably using project management for taking on new business, launching a new product, hiring staff, offering a new service, expanding to a new location, kicking-off a marketing campaign, or implementing new software.
As Joe says, “Most people do project management every day, they just don’t realize it.”
1. Know what you’re getting into.
The first phase of any project is “requirement gathering,” which is project management speak for determining the end goal, what needs to be done to hit that goal, how long it will take, and how much it’s going to cost. Taking the time upfront to understand what’s involved, get everyone on the same page, and set expectations will get your project started off on the right foot.
2. Out of head, on to paper.
Moving a project from concept to a plan requires asking a lot of questions. “You might have to ask the same question 37 times in 37 different ways while you’re working toward and what exactly it is that you want,” Joe explained.
3. Park it.
Not every idea, no matter how good, can be incorporated into a project. Joe recommends having a parking lot as a place to capture ideas that don’t quite make the cut so that they don’t get lost.
4. Prove it.
Before you invest a lot of time, resources, and brain power implementing a project, have a “proof of concept” so you have a chance to make adjustments and changes. “Before I print 5000 of something, I want to make sure I get the first one right, ” Joe shared. Taking it for a test drive will save you time and money in the long run.
5. Anticipate where the tough spots are going to be.
Every project has something that’s going to be tricky to navigate. If you can figure out what that is early on, you can plan accordingly, anticipate the speed bumps, and be prepared.
6. Back to the drawing board.
Know that making a change to a project already in the works, forces trade-offs. If you change the scope of a project, it will require more time or more resources – or you will sacrifice quality of work. Sometimes, something has to give.
7. Get ahead of bad news.
If the project looks like it’s going off the rails, don’t put off delivering bad news. Bad news is best delivered with a full explanation and a menu of solutions. “Don’t say, ‘We’re going to be 2 weeks late,’ you want to have an explanation of the issue, its impact to the project, and choices for moving forward,” Joe advises.
8. Find your documentation sweet spot.
“Documentation is a necessary evil,” says Joe. Having a written plan and documenting any changes along the way is key to any project. “Plus, down the road when I look back, I’ll know exactly what I did because it’s all documented.” Creating templates for common projects and the different phases makes documentation more manageable.
9. Check points are your friend.
Having regular check points throughout your project will help you identify any issues as early as possible. Whether it’s a status meeting or time blocked in your calendar to regroup – check points are key when it comes to keeping things on target.
Joe Gattone is a Senior Project Manager at Swift Capital. His favorite project recently has been managing the construction and occupancy of Swift Capital’s new office space in Wilmington, DE. He also enjoys planning his vacations, down to the daily agendas.
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