Did you know that 93% of organizations use standardized project management practices? In the economically turbulent world of 2021, good planning and consistent application of those plans is the key to reliable project management methodology. Having a clear structure and well-thought-out project management checklist of steps can give you the advantage you need to help you achieve your goals.
So herein is the question. What is on your project management checklist?
If you have ever wondered what other project managers put on their project management checklists, keep reading.
The perfect project management checklist
1. Have a clear vision, goals, and objectives
The first step on any new project management checklist is to meet to establish the project's purpose. After all, the project's very definition is that it realizes a specific goal.
A fundamental way to cut out the fluff and establish the intended final result is to ask two simple questions:
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- What is the problem we are trying to solve?
When you answer these two questions, you can create a Project Charter and then establish the necessary steps to reach your goal. A project charter helps you identify and clarify your project's goals and objectives. The document requires key decision-makers to document their hopes and expectations for the project's outcome in plain language.
Unclear expectations often lead to disappointment. A project charter helps you to avoid this eventuality.
A clear understanding of your project's scope and remit will help you with your next step.
2. Communicate with stakeholders
While you keep your eyes firmly fixed on the prize or the goal of the project. There is another group that you will need to give attention to. This group of people has likely invested a large amount of attention, time, and finances into the project. These are the project stakeholders.
Who are the stakeholders in your project? Depending on the nature of your project, they could be:
- Other department leaders
- Financial investors and contributors
While your ultimate goal is to accomplish the project's purpose and likely involve financial gain for the company, it is essential not to leave the stakeholders behind. To make sure you communicate with the right stakeholders at the right time, it's best to develop a RACI Matrix (a.k.a., RACI Chart).
While they might seem like soft skills, listening patiently and allowing stakeholders to feel heard will go a long way to ensuring support for your project to the end.
Remember that as a project manager, you are responsible for increasing company profits and keeping the stakeholders as happy as possible along the way.
3. Gather data
The next step on your project management checklist template is to gather your project's data and specifications.
The method you use and the actual data you accrue will depend on its methodology. For example, if you are developing a new software product, you would likely have at least three data categories that you can use to benchmark your progress.
- Success markers: How will you define whether this process or product is successful?
- Testing methodology: How could you accurately measure and test the product's progress?
- Reporting: What is the most efficient and effective method to track the growth and development of the product.
These may seem like general categories. However, they help us understand that before gathering all data about the project, we first need to establish markers or methods to grasp the project's dimensions.
Following this, we will accurately track its growth and development.
After gathering this initial data, we can create our project structure.
4. Create your project plan
So far, we have established our goals in the most transparent ways possible, identified stakeholders, and gathered initial data. We now need to bring this information together to create our project plan.
At this point, you may have a clear vision of how to handle the project. The natural tendency would be for us to start dishing out tasks. However, try to resist this.
In order to be able to see how the different steps will impact each other, it is vital to plan to the conclusion of the project.
Steps in your project plan could include necessary tasks such as receiving client sign-off for requirements. However, it could also involve significant investment in time from both the client and your project teammates.
Biding your time at this stage allows you to create the most efficient plan and prepare to present each step and investment to stakeholders.
Project management software such as TrueNxus is the perfect environment for this planning stage. It allows you to analyze accrued data and consider how you will deploy it during the project's implementation through the development of your project plan, or project timeline. All of this is possible within one piece of software.
Further, you can compile and create status reports that will provide you the insight into your team is progressing. Lastly, you can list task dependencies that must be completed before taking further steps.
Crucially, it will allow you to plan for your project's financial impact. Next in your project management checklist is creating a project budget.
5. Create your project budget
Your project plan helps you see the big picture, the overall goal, and how you will achieve it. However, we can now zoom into some smaller details, which carry much weight with stakeholders. One of these is the project budget.
Each project will need a time-based estimate of the costs that the project will create. Likely by now, your stakeholders will have provided you with an overall budget for your project.
Even though you may have this budget, try this: keep it in a safe place, but don't base your calculations on it for now.
Imagine the scenario where you do not have a budget. Imagine that you have unlimited resources to create the perfect product or conclusion for the project.
Following this, you can work with your established budget to see how close you can achieve this gold standards result. Iterate and iterate until you have the best quality of the product that fits your current budget.
You will need to factor indirect costs and indirect costs.
- Direct costs
- Indirect costs
What comes next on our project management checklist? Deployment of assets.
6. Organize your resources
We now come to the sharing of responsibilities and tasks for the project. Depending on the project's scope, you may be assigning tasks to individuals or establishing project workstreams to own and execute some aspects of the project.
In some cases, it is an easy decision to assign work. For example, programmers will likely always be set to software development teams. You may need to train or search for talent outside of the organization in other cases.
In other cases, you may need to identify critical skills within teams. These may include leadership responsibility, such as the workstream leads. Recognizing and deploying these roles early on will contribute to an efficient project.
Once you have your personnel in place, you need to help them maximize their time. Next in your project management checklist is scheduling resources effectively.
7. Schedule effectively
Your project plan is now starting to move towards fruition. It has a general structure, a budget, and personnel. Crucially, it is all based on the steps you will take to reach your target or goal.
Next, you can start to construct timelines and plans for your resources. This requires you to consider how much time each step should reasonably take. It also involves establishing milestones and soft deadlines for aspects of your project, depending on the nature of its complexity.
Other elements in your scheduling may include:
- Project start date
- Task or deliverable due dates
- Overall time estimations
- Methodology for tracking time
- Factoring in of dependencies
- Methods of management of this data
At this point, you may benefit from an objective viewpoint. You can delegate the scheduling to a team member who will consider how realistic your plan is and provide feedback.
Project management software such as TrueNxus can help you share this data with others regardless of location, because its a cloud-based.
TrueNxus can also help with the next stage of your planning. Next in your project management checklist is creating a clear communication plan.
8. Create a communication plan
In every project, some milestones and subgoals contribute to your overall progress. When these are met, or not as the case may be, many people will want to know about it and make decisions as a consequence. These will include stakeholders and you as a project manager.
Communication involves sharing project updates, changes to task dependencies, status reporting and instant messaging. You can deploy them to inform different shareholders about the project's progress.
While communication is essential, you will also need to plan for the unexpected. How can you do this?
9. Manage project risks and issues
When you start a project, it is very easy to become excited about the end result. Because of this, many overlook the many risks and issues associated with their project. How can you plan to manage risks?
What are risks?
The first step is to identify the risks and issues and how they differ. You can generally identify risks at the beginning of the project. You may be able to identify at what stage of the project they will appear and whether they will continue for the project's length.
A specific risk will materially impact the project. There should be a reasonable chance to occur to be worthy of consideration.
What are issues?
Issues are also a type of problem that can occur during a project's lifespan. However, the difference is that you are likely not aware of them before the project. Further, they will not continue for the duration of the project. They are often more specific than risks and allow you to identify and address them much faster than risks.
It is vital to plan to foresee risks and issues as much as possible. When they arise, they divert necessary time and other resources away from your project. Should they not be handled correctly, they can cause a project's progress to slow down and milestones and deadlines to be missed.
Ultimately your goal is to progress the project to its final destination. Next in your project management checklist is monitoring and controlling progress.
10. Track your progress
When considering your project's nature, other than the final product, what are the other most important factors? Are there other deliverables that stakeholders expect along the way? Is meeting your ultimate deadline the crucial factor?
An effective way to keep stakeholders abreast of the project's progress is to use project status reports. These will clearly and unambiguously indicate the status of critical elements of the project, such as deliverables and the budget.
Project status reports are automatically created in TrueNxus. Having a real-time visibility into progress can be potent. They are a crucial way to allow stakeholders to feel invested and to some degree in control of the project.
Status reports can also help you as the project manager. Tracking the project's progress can help you understand where you are in the stream of time and manage accountability for any delays.
As you implement your plan and delegate tasks, you should start to see your project move towards completion. Instead of multiple programs handling your data, why not consider a one software solution, such as TrueNxus, that can help you run your project efficiently and successfully?
If you are a project manager, you know that a methodical step-by-step approach to your work is crucial. You are ensuring that your project management checklist is up to date and agile can help you.