In the ideal world, all projects go smoothly. They’re always delivered on time. Everything is perfectly organised and nothing ever fails. But in the real world? Projects are delayed. People confuse their tasks. Communication fails. Every team has been there! The question is, how to stay on track with your project and work on it productively? Here’s how we deal with it.
Set the right goals
You can’t plan your journey without the destination. And you can’t plan your project without setting the right goals.
But what do we mean by the “right goals”, you ask. It’s simpler than you think. The right goals are ambitious but within your reach. They’re specific and measurable, thanks to which you can easily check whether you succeeded.
You’ve probably heard about the SMART goals theory. If you haven’t, quickly check out this blog post about SMART goals where we explain what’s what!
Picking the right goals is a huge part of succeeding. If you chose impossible goals – you’ll only get discouraged to carry on. If you choose goals that don’t make your business grow, don’t develop your team and don’t bring value to your company – that’s a waste of time!
Be critical. Analyse whether what you want to do, truly matters. Then, make sure your goals can be expressed by numbers and facts, so they are easily measurable. Make sure your goals are making you headed somewhere – and that somewhere is where you want your business to be in a year, two, three from now one.
Choose the right people
You may have many diverse talents in your team and awesome employees of various skills. But it doesn’t mean each of them has to work on every project.
Be selective. The smaller the team, the better. Choose people with the right skill set for the job, but also – with the right mindset for working in tandem. Some of your biggest specialists may not be cut out for working with others. It’s alright, some people are best left working alone.
When choosing who’s joining you on the project, make sure you choose people who complete each other. Of course, to know what kind of people you’ll need, you have to know what skills are required to complete the given project. Based on that, build your team carefully and selectively match the talent with the character.
It will help you avoid misunderstandings, mid-work reorganisation or even team drama.
Prepare the milestones
To stay on track with your project, you need to prepare a detailed roadmap to your final destination. The more in detail you go, the better for you and for your team. Don’t assume that something “goes without saying”. Be sure to make clear even the most obvious things and tasks.
Working on big projects is highly dependant on smaller milestones that happen along the way. Preparing them right can determine whether you’ll succeed or fail.
How to set the milestones for your task? You’ll have to work backwards. Work from the general idea into detail.
Let’s say your project is to launch Digital Product XYZ. Part of working on this project will be to secure the project’s functions. So, the next step is to say: who will work on each and every function? What tasks and steps will be connected to creating them? What will be the method of evaluation and testing? What will be the deadline for version 1.0, version 1.2, version 1.3?
Follow the same pattern if you want, for example, launch the product’s landing page. What’s needed for it? Who will take care of the hosting? Who will prepare the content? Who will design it? Who will code it? Until when and according to what criteria?
Don’t brush on the surface of the tasks. Go deep. Set deadlines for even the tiniest of steps. Leave no task without a person responsible for it. Don’t skip any steps and don’t overlook any actions that you need to take. To stay on track with your project, you need to know exactly what will happen and when it will happen.
Revise, review and reflect often
Communication is the key. Especially if you work in a distributed and remote team. Without communication, everything will fail and you’ll never stay on track with your project.
Make sure it is there. Organise meetings or calls in regular intervals to discuss the progress. This will be your time to reflect on what’s happening and address any possible issues that are happening. It’s up to you whether you’ll get in touch once or twice a week. But make sure you check in with your employees regularly. Every one of them should be able to report something to you. Be alert if someone hesitates and stumbles about describing their part. Listen to what your team is saying an compare the progress with your milestone list or status table (yes, you should have one!).
Depending on your relations with your employees, you may want to check on them more or less frequently. Chat them up about their progress in between the calls or meetings. Also, make sure to keep your door open. Your team members should know that you’re here for them. Nobody should keep silent about issues they’re experiencing, no matter how trivial they seem.
There’s not enough of stressing it – communicate, communicate, communicate. All the time.
Use to tools stay on track with your project
Make use of everything that comes in handy. Nowadays we’ve got so many awesome tools to coordinate teamwork that it would be a real shame if you missed out on them.
Project management tools, such as Taskeo, simplify task assigning and streamline team communication. Using this kind of software is your chance to get your project under control and monitor the progress. PM platforms make it easy to visualise your workflow, spot the team’s weak points and localise the problems when they appear. It’s the digital era now so make sure you rely on the digital tools that are just a few clicks away.
Over to you
It’s not as hard to stay on track with your project when your team is devoted to it – but organising your work well is where it all starts. Choose the right goals and select the right people to achieve them; communicate often and benefit from digital project management tools. All this put together, and you’re much more likely to succeed with whatever challenge you accept!