1. Lay out tasks and work. Most successful projects begin with a good plan. What do I need to accomplish? What are the goals? What’s the timeline? What resources will I need? How many of the resources do I control? Who controls the rest of the resources – people, funding, tools, materials, support – I need? Lay out the work from A to Z. Many people are seen as lacking a plan because they don’t write down the sequence or parts of the work and leave something out. Ask others to comment on ordering and what’s missing.
2. Set the plan. Buy a flow charting software program like ABC FlowCharter® that does PERT and GANT charts. Become an expert in its use. Use the output of the software to communicate your plans to others. Use the flow charts in your presentations.
3. Set goals and measures. Nothing keeps projects on time and on budget like a goal, a plan and a measure. Set goals for the whole project and the sub tasks. Plan for all. Set measures so you and others can track progress against the goals.
4. Manage multiple plans or aspects of big plans. Many attempts to accomplish complex plans involve managing parallel tracks or multiple tasks at the same time. It helps if you have a master plan. Good planning decreases the chances you will lose control by spreading yourself too thin.
5. Manage efficiently. Plan the budget and manage against it. Spend carefully. Have a reserve if the unanticipated comes up. Set up a funding timeline so you can track ongoing expenditures against plan.
6. You need to match people and tasks. People are different. They have different strengths and have differing levels of knowledge and experience. Instead of thinking of everyone as equal, think of them as different. Really equal treatment is giving people tasks to do that match their capacities.
7. Vision the plan in process. What could go wrong? Run scenarios in your head. Think along several paths. Rank the potential problems from highest likelihood to lowest likelihood. Think about what you would do if the highest likelihood things were to occur. Create a contingency plan for each. Pay attention to the weakest links which are usually groups or elements you have the least interface with or control over (perhaps someone in a remote location, a consultant or supplier). Stay doubly in touch with the potential weak links.
8. Set up a process to monitor progress against the plan. How would you know if the plan is on time? Could you estimate time to completion or percent finished at any time? Give people involved in implementing the plan progress feedback as you go.
9. Find someone in your environment who is better at planning than you are to see how it’s done. How does that compare against what you typically do? Try to increase doing the things he/she does. Ask for feedback from some people who have had to follow your plans. What did they like? What did they find difficult?
10. Get others to help. Share your ideas about the project with others, possibly the people you need to support you later. Get their input on the plan. Delegate creating the plan to people who are better at it than you are. You provide the goals and what needs to be done, and let others create the detailed plan.
A LEADS learning package is located in AccelerateTM We’ve made searching for resources for the LEADS competencies easy. Just click on the Catalog button and browse through the LEADS folder to find many learning resources.
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