11 Tips for Managing Large Projects
Companies often have a variety of projects to accomplish, ranging from small, day-long ones to larger ones that may take weeks or months. Managing larger projects often takes more resources and more time than smaller ones and can require more hands-on involvement. You can make your large projects more organized and efficient by using simple strategies, such as defining goals and assigning work to specific roles. In this article, we discuss 11 tips for managing large projects that can help your team succeed.
11 tips for managing large projects
Here are 11 tips you can use for managing large projects:
1. Learn from previous projects
Even if you have experience managing large projects, examine previous projects that your company has completed. Familiarizing yourself with strategies that other teams use can help you create an effective plan. For instance, if a team used a vendor that allowed it to meet deadlines, see if the same vendor can help you with your project. Consider researching previous projects by looking at company archives and talking to a manager of another project because they might explain details of the challenges they faced.
2. Define your primary goal
Defining your primary goal can make it easier to plan your project and measure its success. As you define your goal, try asking yourself questions such as:
What problem are you addressing?
Who's inspiring you to complete your project?
What do you want to accomplish?
What outcomes can help you measure success?
How long do you expect the project to take?
For example, a factory might want to improve its labor productivity. The project's purpose is to help the company become more profitable, but the team considers the employees' needs to meet its goals. It might meet employee needs and increase profitability by providing comprehensive training and a more organized workspace. The team plans to calculate profitability by dividing the company's total output by labor hours and measure employee satisfaction through surveys, which the team plans to complete after six months.
3. Create smaller goals
After defining your goal, consider creating smaller goals to make your project more manageable. These smaller goals help your team complete tasks to proceed to the next step, allowing your project to meet its deadline. Multiple deadlines can also provide your team with a sense of accomplishment as it meets each one, motivating them throughout the project.
For instance, if a project's ultimate goal is to optimize its social media strategy, it might establish smaller goals like:
Research target audience
Analyze current metrics
Evaluate competitors' strategies
Create a weekly posting schedule
Increase user engagement
4. Build a reliable team
As you build your team, try choosing employees who have experience with large projects. Those with prior experience are often better at meeting strict deadlines and collaborating with other employees. You can ask supervisors to see which individuals you can trust to handle lots of responsibility, but also consider asking employees to see who is interested. When someone is passionate about your project, they may be more likely to be a responsible team member.
When creating your team, try to make your expectations as clear as possible. Ensuring potential members understand their responsibilities can help them determine if they are suitable for the role. If they realize their other tasks might conflict with their ability to meet deadlines, you can find members who can commit more time and effort to your project.
5. Assign role responsibilities
Assigning roles can keep your project organized by ensuring members understand their responsibilities. The roles you assign may vary depending on your industry, company structure and project type, but many projects share similar roles. For instance, most teams have a project manager who oversees every stage. Their tasks often include conflict resolution, risk management and status reporting. Another common role is the resource manager, who coordinates assignments and allocates resources to project teams.
As you assign roles, consider creating a hierarchy so that employees know who to talk to if a problem arises. For instance, you might have group leaders that can advise if their groups have a minor issue. If the problem is beyond the group leader's abilities, the employees can talk to the project manager.
6. Facilitate a positive team environment
Facilitating a positive team environment can help encourage collaboration. Consider beginning this process by sharing your primary goal at the project's start. When team members know the expected outcome, they may be more likely to work together toward this shared goal. You can also create a sense of community by allowing team members to introduce themselves and create connections through bonding events.
While facilitating a positive team environment at the beginning is important, continue the process throughout the project's duration. Consistently encouraging collaboration can help your team overcome any challenges of large projects.
7. Use collaboration tools
One of the biggest challenges of managing large projects is fostering good communication. When your team members use collaboration tools, they can streamline their communication and ensure they meet deadlines. Many teams rely on video conferencing tools to delegate roles, share updates and provide clarification. They may also use direct messaging platforms to facilitate real-time conversations and scheduling systems to sync their calendars.
As you decide which collaboration tools to use, consider implementing protocols to ensure employees can communicate efficiently. For instance, you can advise team members to update their status on direct messaging platforms when they are out of the office. You might also suggest that employees use email to convey longer, more formal messages.
8. Conduct regular check-ins
Check-ins help you measure your team's progress. By scheduling regular meetings, you can determine whether employees are meeting their deadlines. Training or presenting new strategies may help team members who are missing some of their goals to increase productivity. Sometimes, you may realize that their goals are unrealistic and can adjust them accordingly.
Regular check-ins are also an effective way to keep your team focused. Employees can mention problems and ask for clarification, allowing them to maintain their productivity. Try encouraging team members to share suggestions for improving the project's operation. For instance, the project manager might notice that the client seems preoccupied during progress meetings. Using this observation, you can reschedule progress meetings to when the client isn't as busy, allowing them to provide your team with their full attention.
9. Encourage independence
While supervision can help teams stay focused, employees can also benefit from independence. Those who have the resources and freedom they need to become self-reliant often become more efficient. For example, consider a team that has to deliver a report to a client by a certain deadline. The project's requirements tell the team to access data for the report from a certain source, but the source is unavailable.
If employees are independent, they can use their problem-solving skills to access the data. They might suggest alternative sources or even propose conducting their own research. Whichever option they end up choosing, their proactive behaviors can promote innovation and allow supervisors to focus on other parts of the project.
10. Manage project risks
Because many projects come with risks, it's important to have an effective risk management strategy. You can start by recognizing which problems are most likely to occur. For instance, your company's past projects may have found it challenging to meet deadlines because of supplier issues. You can mitigate this risk by working with suppliers that have a reputation for being efficient.
Besides mitigating potential problems, your risk management strategy can include a plan to address them if they occur. For example, even if you use a reputable supplier, it may deliver products later than you expected. Your plan might account for this problem by making your deadlines more flexible.
11. Be flexible with change
Being flexible can help you handle all the changes that are likely to occur throughout your project. For instance, the client might revise their requirements after your team begins work on their project. Instead of strictly adhering to the original plan, being flexible means you can adjust assignments to meet the client's requests. Adjustments might include employees focusing on a different goal or having groups use new software.
Sometimes, the adjustments might come from observations about productivity instead of a client's requests. For example, you might notice that a team member is more efficient at a task that's different from the one you originally assigned to them. You can adjust roles to ensure team members are in positions where they are most productive.
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