Do you have a clearly defined project? Are you sure who your customer is? Have you shared this project and its goals with your team, your organization and the customer? Do you know all the people or team members who will be affected by this project?
We can have the best project software and fabulous management skills, but if you don’t have clear goals for your project defined in writing that you have shared, your project can be easily derailed. The goals of your project need to be agreed on before you start.
It is so easy to have an idea, decide to do it and then just jump into the “real work” of the project. However, if your organization doesn’t agree on the goals of the project before it starts how will they agree on the work of the project or what the end result should be? As the project manager one of your goals is to deliver an end result that your customer is happy with and meets their needs and expectations. The only way you can really achieve this is to write down the goals and all of the “rules” of the project.
The project statement needs to be very detailed and list exactly what the project is. This should almost be a mission statement for your project. You need to list the rules because these will lay the groundwork for what your customer is expecting. The rules can include the budget, new equipment and the start and completion dates, among many others.
You need to share this written goal with the team and with those who are your customers. They need to agree to it and sign off on it before you start.
Often people are afraid to put rules into place because they may need to be changed and we all want to be flexible. The truth is having the rules defined will let you easily evaluate and communicate what a requested change will do to the project.
For example, you are requested to delay the project because your facility has decided something else needs to be done ahead of your project. If you have a clearly defined budget, you can easily see what effect this change will have on your budget. You may have hired outside resources just for the project and a delay of 2 weeks will add additional salaries to the budget of your project. Because you have the rules written you can easily let those who are asking for change know the exact dollar amount this delay will cause to your project and they can sign off on it or reevaluate the requested change.
On the other hand if you are using all internal people and those working on your project can work on other tasks and projects during the delay, you can feel comfortable that this change will not affect your budget. Imagine what would happen if you agreed to the change and you had extra salaries that no one approved. At the time of the delay, no one would be upset but when the budget is off everyone will want to know why. By preparing ahead and letting everyone know and sign off on it, you will avoid this situation.
Just remember that a little bit extra work planning and working through issues before you start a project can save you a lot of work in the end.
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