How to Successfully Complete a Project
Hi guys, Diane here.
Today, we’ll be covering projects and successful execution. As I was talking to a few clients last week, they mentioned how surprised they were that I was able to consistently execute so many projects for them and my other clients without losing my sanity or dropping the ball. Or just generally getting lost from one project to the next.
What I’ll be outlining are the steps I go through whenever I have a new project so that I can successfully complete it and avoid what I see many business owners struggling with, which is traction on their projects.
They find themselves starting a ton of projects – only to have them fall by the wayside before they’re completed.
Three Key Phases to Completion: Planning Phase
There should be three key phases whenever you’re working on a project.
The first one is planning: you’re trying to get clear on what you’re building.
You have to ask yourself, “what’s the goal of this project?”
I find that many people fall behind on their projects primarily because they’re not clear on what they’re trying to accomplish. They’ll say, “I need more templates within my business…”, or, “I need to standardize things across my business,” etc.
The issue here is that they’re not being specific or precise on what they’d like to accomplish.
If you want to create templates, a specific and clear version of that would be an email automation sequence. And after you have that, what purpose will it serve within your business – email marketing? A sales funnel? Customer service? And if you’re standardizing, what exactly do you want to standardize? If it’s the whole of your business, then break that down into components, piece by piece.
In sum, be very, very clear on what you’re trying to accomplish within the planning phase. If you’re not clear, I can guarantee the project will go off the rails at some point because the project will start to shift towards one direction or the other. The scope will inevitably get wider than you intended and fall off.
Then, consider this: what resources do you have? This is something else that can end up derailing your project because at times you’ll unnecessarily scramble to do everything yourself as a result of an unresponsive or unproductive team.
Additionally, what’s the timeline for your project? This is another common issue that people make when planning projects – which, by nature, are time-bound. They have to be completed within a finite amount of time. Without a timeline, I can guarantee that the project will ultimately either go on forever or end poorly/unsuccessfully. And if it goes on forever, it transforms from a simple project to a concrete, on-going part of your business operations, which is not what you’re after.
Hold yourself accountable: When will it be done? What’s the launch date? You need to know when each step should be done, which will, in turn, help you hold yourself and your team members accountable and push the whole thing forward.
Next, what potential challenges could you face along the way? This is another thing you need to look at during the planning phase so that you’re as prepared as possible, with slack built into your timeline to allow for problem-solving along the way.
In essence, if you do a lot of the heavy lifting during the planning phase, the following phases – execution and monitoring – become easy, right?
Second Phase to Completion: Execution Phase
After planning, you have to get down to the execution and monitoring of the project.
Who’s going to be doing the work? Is it me? Is it someone else? Is it a contractor or a new hire? Is it someone within the internal team?
Does that person or team know what they need to be doing, and what their role is within the project? And is there an appropriate feedback loop in place for them to update me on what they’re working on and for me to give them feedback on it?
The feedback loop needs to happen throughout the project, consistently – not at the end, or after long, long periods. Lacking this loop can lead to things falling through the cracks and a loss of traction and momentum.
Done properly, though, and the feedback loop allows for consistent oversight, which should be fairly straightforward if you went through a robust planning phase. If you didn’t, you’ll hand things out to various people or team members – not have appropriate oversight – and then not obtain the results you were after when you pick up the work they’ve done.
And in the meantime, you fall into the trap of not knowing whether the project is on track or not until nearly the end, which is one of the worst positions to be in. No time to course-correct or make adjustments or change what’s been done altogether.
Having a solid feedback loop will allow you to monitor your group and ensure that things go according to your planning phase, without having issues turn into enormous complications.
Third Phase to Completion: Completion Phase
Third, we get to the last phase: completion.
Completion is really about giving everything a last look – a spot check.
Is everything working appropriately? Has everything been tested? Does it meet the goals we set, and does it look right? I mean, it’s great if you created a beautiful website – but it’s another thing if all of the buttons on an entire page don’t work or look completely out of place.
Completion is about pulling it all together, making sure that everyone has done their part and that everything works well together. Then worrying about how it looks, as a whole.
If you’re building templates and they’re working, does this address the question that you outlined at the beginning? As an easy example, if you the templates you created are for marketing your business but the templates are mostly for customer service, then you haven’t answered the question, right?
That’s where you need to address issues and course correct and make sure everything looks accurate. Perhaps one or two templates are customer-service-focused, and you simply need to realign and tweak before moving forward.
This phase is where you make necessary changes before you deliver.
Does this resonate with you? Does this help you plan your projects better? Or do you have a lot of projects on your plate now that you want some feedback on?
Projects are a matter of planning and oversight more than anything else. Please drop me a line and reach out to me – I’m always happy to chat with you.
Until next time,
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