If you’ve ever worked as a project manager, you know that delivering a project on time and on budget is no easy task.
Keeping all the moving parts in sync, managing the inevitable changes or delays, and – perhaps most importantly – maintaining a budget that is both reasonable and realistic is challenging no matter what kind of project it is or how long you have to complete it.
There are, however, things you can do to make it all a little bit easier. Here are a few tips for keeping your project on budget and running smoothly from start to finish.
Spend as much time as you can problem-solving before diving into your project
While it’s often tempting to rally the troops and divvy up a task list as soon as possible, especially if you’re working on a tight timeline, it pays off to spend some time at the beginning thinking, rather than doing.
Take some time by yourself at your desk to think about the project and what you and your team can do to make the execution easier. You may find that you can condense certain steps, or delegate more tasks in order to make the best use of your time.
If your thoughts are organized prior to starting the project, you’ll end up feeling less stressed as things progress. That will have benefits not only for you, but for your team as well.
Establish measureable metrics for success
If you want to deliver a successful project, you have to have a measurable way to define what “successful” means. Sticking to a timeline and a budget are two of the most obvious criteria, and those are both easily measured.
But what about other metrics? One could be meeting a certain milestone within a certain timeframe. Another could be getting positive feedback from the client at a particular stage in the project lifecycle. Make sure you take the time to set these milestones and criteria in the project’s early stages.
Utilize forecasting software, instead of just spreadsheets
Simple spreadsheets may work well for individuals keeping track of their own progress, but for a project team, they can quickly become unwieldy and confusing. How do you know if you’ve got the most up-to-date version? How do you know if you’re really on track budget-wise?
With a budgeting, planning, and forecasting solution like True Sky, however, you can handle your project’s budget in a much more proactive way.
With True Sky, you can continually forecast your budget throughout the project to ensure that you’re where you need to be. Your team can easily collaborate, reducing the risk of confusion and miscommunication. Since True Sky updates in real time, you never have to wonder whether the numbers you’re seeing are current or not.
In addition, team members can leave comments or include attachments with their budget entries, so you always know the reasoning behind the numbers.
If you’re not the type of person who finds it easy to change directions when needed, you may want to work on your flexibility.
No matter how well-defined your project is or how reliable your team, at some point you’re going to have to deal with some uncertainty. Being able to meet it with an open mind and a positive attitude will go a long way toward your team’s and project’s success.
Conduct an internal evaluation of your project once it’s been completed
To enhance your chances of success with future projects, it’s important to take some time post-completion to evaluate how the project went. Did you select the right team members? Were there any snags you hit along the way that could have been avoided? What went better than expected?
It’s best to do your evaluation with your team members, as they’ll undoubtedly have a different perspective on certain things than you do. But if you have to do it by yourself, that’s ok too. A little time spent reflecting can pay off greatly when it comes time to start your next project.