Projects are the lifeblood of most modern businesses. But business projects seem to be getting more and more complex all the time! It’s important to try to keep your head in the game, even though that can often feel like an impossible task.
Here are some of our best tips for efficiently managing a complex project.
Establish the authorities and points of contact
A complex project will usually require quite a big team. And sometimes a big team can be quite a complex thing in and of itself! One of the most important things you can do is make sure everyone knows who to go to in a given situation. No-one’s role in your team should be a mystery to anybody else. Everyone should know what any given person is doing on the project. Everyone should have a clear idea of what abilities the people they’re working with have. If one member of the team has a problem that can only be dealt with by enlisting the help of someone else, then they should know who to go to immediately.
Plan, plan, plan
What, you were thinking of going in without a plan? Okay, I sincerely doubt it. But you need to be as thorough as you can be when it comes to this. Before you start work on the project properly, get all the team members in a room. Everyone should be involved in the initial planning process; don’t just leave it up to the managers. This gives you a better chance of getting everything you need into the plan.
Prioritize your tasks
In most projects I’ve worked on in offices, people tend to start prioritizing tasks quite late into the game. You should be doing it different. Once you’ve all planned out the tasks, the entire team should then collaborate on prioritizing. This stage, of course, requires some knowledge about how one task can potentially affect another. You may look at a task and think that it seems pretty small. But someone else on the team who specializes in that area may recognize that that task can affect your ability to do several other tasks. In which case, as small as it may seem, it needs to be considered a high priority.
Pay attention to the experts – but make sure you understand everything
Yes, you may be the business owner or the team leader. But, as I’m sure you know, there are going to be people on the team who know more about a given task than you. This is especially true in, say, software development. Programmers and designers will probably know a lot more than the project manager about coding and art. You should learn to trust their judgement when it comes to these things; don’t spend too long arguing about stuff. That being said, you shouldn’t just blindly follow the advice of the experts. Make sure they explain to you as clearly as possible the implications of any given choice.
Have the right management software
A complex project requires a lot of micromanagement. One of the best ways of going about project management is to break tasks and assets into smaller chunks and managing them that way. The downside of this is that you have smaller items to deal with, which means you end up juggling more. It can be less complex in one sense, but it can seem more complex if you’re not “juggling” the tasks properly! You should be looking into project management software. This helps you visualize and manipulate things in a much clearer way. You can get software for juggling schedules and tasks. You can also get services that will help you handle all of your digital assets.
Hold brief team catch-ups on a daily basis
I think it’s fair to say that few people love team meetings. It’s not that we don’t like each other, of course. It’s just that team meetings feel like they get in the way of actually doing the work, sometimes. We have to spend a lot of time listening to one another speak about tasks that may not necessarily directly affect us. But these meetings also keep us on the same page. So what do we do? One thing you should try is a daily standup meeting. As soon as you can in the morning, hold a ten-minute meeting where everyone stands up around a whiteboard. Everyone should get a maximum of a minute to update the team on what they’ve been doing.