When it comes to any special activity, there needs to be some very important and critical steps occurring to make that happen well and ensure the success of the project or activity. Now, as far as a project goes, that might be running a special event or possibly rolling out a new service or product. You may even consider going on holidays as a project as such. If you’re a small business owner, there is far more than just close the door on Friday and go on 4 weeks’ annual leave.
Here are 12 steps to ensure any activity or project goes off without a hitch
1. Have the end in mind
Knowing what you want to achieve is paramount. This is essentially your goal. If you’re launching a new program, what outcome do you want? If you’re running a workshop, then how many bums on seats do you need? If you’re having a 15th year in business celebration, do you want media coverage or perhaps a certain number of people to attend the event? Your ‘project’ might even be on-boarding a new employee and the goal, of course, is that they will settle in as quickly as possible, learn the ropes well and love working in your business – so they will essentially stay. Not only do you want to clearly know the desired outcome, but your team also needs to know this. Good communication in this regard will have everyone ‘on the same page’.
2. Put a plan into place
This sounds somewhat simple, but often it is not done well. Firstly, the plan needs to be in writing and documented. As an experienced business coach, clients will say “it’s all in my head” which is great, but it needs to be on paper. That way all the team (and the coach) and anyone else involved will see what’s happening and intended. Also, once you commit something to paper, it takes form and often shows if some steps are missing. As every business is different, so is every ‘project’ so, for this reason, a number of different things may be valuable – which may include a detailed plan, summary plan, checklist, task list, project mapping or more.
3. Clarify Resources
Remember that resources can be a number of things. There is firstly human resources which I’ll talk about more in the following dot points. You may also have financial resources – what funds will need to be made available? Is this in the budget? Who will pay for things? What budget has been allocated? There may also be other resources, such as office space, tools, equipment or other outsourced services. This should be determined quite early in the planning stages. A budget of $500 versus a budget of $50K is going to determine a good many things in the plan.
4. Checklists that rock
I’m a huge fan of checklists. To me, a checklist is a visual map of the actions and activities to be done. The other thing I love about checklists is that if you are doing something regularly, then it’s got everything in there you may need to do. No forgetting critical steps, this time, or any time in the future. Checklists are excellent for a huge range of activities, including inducting and setting up a new employe or on-boarding a new client. When I run a workshop or present (speak) for someone, I use one of my checklists. If you’re running a specific marketing campaign or promoting a certain product, then you may well have a checklist of action steps required each time. The idea is that you spend a bit of time the first time to get everything down. Then you use that checklist. You may even add a few extra points to do. If something isn’t needed in a specific situation, no problem, just put a line through that item on your checklist that time (not permanently) and you’ll already be prepared.
5. Be clear on responsibilities
Naturally linked in with checklists is being clear on who will perform the task. One person needs to override the project, but each person in the project team needs to have (and clearly know) what they are responsible for. I recommend that each step has a deadline allocated to it. If it’s a larger item (perhaps it’s the marketing plan for the new product) then there may well be a second list of tasks (or checklist) around that specific task. I’d be breaking up those larger tasks into bitesize chunks and ensuring that the overall person responsible for that checks in with you or the team on a regular basis.
6. Planning the activity
I think you’re seeing the gist of the message here. Planning and organisation will take you very far. How often have you embarked on something (without a plan) only to realise that a critical step has been forgotten or overlooked? If I’m speaking interstate, have the airline tickets and accommodation been organised? There’s little point worrying about my PowerPoint if travel isn’t booked.
This can encompass so much; it might be travel bookings, venue booking, a marketing plan, additional to the website, social media campaign, recruiting the right people to be on board for the activity … and so much more.
With any project or activity, you and your team need to communicate. Firstly, I’d be sending the checklist or plan to the team and asking for their feedback. Have we forgotten anything? This is especially important with a new checklist, but even ongoing, good to have a second (or third, or tenth) set of eyes checking every step is accounted for.
9. Apps that help the team keep on track
Apps (including free ones like Trello) can assist you and the team to stay on track and be organised. There are oodles out there, from the free versions through to paid options. You need to research what you’re looking for and what features you require. Budget is also relevant; as if you’re spending $50 per person per month, then if you have a few team, it can certainly add up. However, if the cost is $50 per person and the system saves every person 5 hours a month, then it truly will pay for itself.
10. Keep track of progress
It’s super important that the team leader (or even if you’re a one man band) that you keep track of progress. Not only use your checklist to ensure everything is on track and happening (and nothing has been forgotten) but also that your team is on track. May I suggest it’s not as simple as a quick email or call “so are you all good?” and they say “yep, all good” but actually talk to them about what’s been done, or have them send through what they have done. If you are going to have a meeting, absolutely set an agenda and allocate time to each person, so that the meeting does not run into several hours. Little is achieved by like, meandering meetings. Certainly, never make assumptions. You say to the team “call me if you have any problems” so if you get no calls, do not assume they are all good and on track.
I remember the biggest lesson when I was organising my wedding was confirm, reconfirm and reconfirm again. People lose orders (happened only last weekend dining out with friends and our order got lost). Mistakes happen and double bookings occur. Possibly you emailed a booking of 5.10.19 and they thought it was 10th May 2019 (versus 5th October). All sorts of things can happen, so reconfirming critical aspects of your project, especially if you’re outsourcing aspects, saving you from disaster.
After it’s all over (but not too far in the future) have a debrief. What went well but what hiccupped or could have happened better? Adjust your checklists and strategies now, so next time that activity rolls around, you’ll be even better prepared. If something goes wrong, see it as an opportunity to improve and learn. Don’t forget to fully and heartedly thank your team for their efforts. Feeling appreciated will have them on board for next time.
If you need any help with your business, check out my services, I’ll be happy to keep you organised as well.