How To Start a Project in 7 Steps
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Projects are a series of collaborative efforts within a team to achieve an objective. Starting a project often involves careful planning, attention to detail and defined responsibilities for each team member. Understanding the steps required to successfully start a project may help you more effectively achieve your project goals. In this article, we define project management, discuss the elements of a successful project and offer a list of seven steps to help you start a project.
What is project management?
Project management is the process of leading a team and supervising deliverables during each phase of a project's completion. Those responsible for project management may plan, organize, delegate and supervise tasks within a project to ensure successful and timely project completion. Project management often involves applying knowledge and resources to contribute to the success of a project at each phase of its completion, from pre-project planning to conclusion.
Related: FAQ: Project Management Basics
What are the elements of a successful project?
There are several elements of a successful project, including:
Having clearly defined roles is an important element of a successful project. Do your best to define each team members' role as specifically and with as much detail as possible to ensure that everyone understands the expectations of their contributions. This can help to prevent delays due to confusion and increase efficiency by providing an exact outline of the responsibilities and tasks of each team member.
Setting specific goals is a great way to ensure all team members understand their individual and collaborative objectives. Try to include as much detail and specific aspects of your goals as possible to provide your team with the information necessary to effectively work together toward their common goals.
Aligning the expectations of your team members and your clients or stakeholders is an important element of successful project completion. Try your best to make sure everyone involved understands the scope of work, their contributions to the project and how to communicate throughout the course of the project.&
Including a comprehensive timeline in your project can help to ensure that all parties involved understand when to expect different phases of the project to be completed. This can also help your team prepare themselves for important milestones and prioritize their tasks accordingly, which may increase efficiency and ensure that project completion is timely and accurate.
How to start a project
Consider following these steps to successfully start a project:
1. Define your goals
The first step of starting a project is understanding your objectives. Consider defining and prioritizing your goals by determining which is your primary goal and which smaller objectives support your primary goal. This can help you make informed decisions while planning the execution of your project and can help clarify the common goal your team is working toward.
To define your goals, consider asking yourself the following questions:
Is this goal specific?
Is this goal measurable?
Is this goal attainable?
Is this goal relevant?
Is this goal time-based?
Is this our primary goal?
Does this goal help us achieve our primary goal?
2. List your team members
Once you understand your objectives, it's important to understand your team members and the contributions that each can make to the success of your project. Consider making a list of your team members with their job titles, skills and areas of expertise to help you better define their roles within the project. This may help you match the members of your team with project responsibilities that best match their capabilities.
You may also consider speaking with your team members to assess their preferences and which responsibilities they feel most able to complete.
3. Determine the scope of work
The next step in successfully starting a project is determining the scope of work necessary to meet your objectives. This step is a great opportunity to discuss with your team members the exact work that needs to be done for successful project completion, develop tasks based on your discussions, and decide on the best way to delegate responsibilities. Try to define the tasks clearly and specifically to ensure all team members fully understand their contribution to the project.
4. Estimate resources
After determining the work that needs to be done to fulfill your project's objective, consider the resources available to your team. Resources may include funding, materials needed to complete the project or third parties who can provide a necessary service. Which resources you decide to use may depend on your project's objectives and the capabilities of your team, but understanding your options for available resources may help you make more informed decisions about other aspects of project planning, launch as timeline and budget.
5. Implement a timeline
Implementing a detailed timeline is an important way to keep your team on schedule and to align their expectations. Consider including important milestones and deadlines in your timeline to help your team fully understand when their deliverables need to be completed and when they can expect their teammates to complete important tasks. You may also consider displaying the timeline in a public place or making sure everyone has a list of project milestones and deadlines for easy referencing.
6. Schedule communications
Scheduling communications during influential phases of your project can help you inform your team of status updates and progress reports. Consider scheduling meetings, conference calls, emails or memos to complete throughout the project's timeline. Scheduling these communications ahead of time may also give your team more time to prepare for meetings and contribute more effectively to discussions.
7. Prepare for day one
The first day of a project may be one of the most important moments throughout its life cycle. Do your best to prepare your team for day one by completing a full itinerary, discussing first-day expectations and scheduling a meeting at the beginning of the day to ensure everyone understands their responsibilities and has access to all the resources they need for success.
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