I was recently talking to a business owner who was struggling to meet his project deadlines. No matter how hard he tried, it seemed like every project that he took on over the past few months has ended up way over budget or late. When I delved a little deeper into the problem, I realized that he didn't have a good process to handle projects and therefore often missed key steps along the way that ended up costing him a lot of time and money. And if my 25 years of business coaching has taught me anything, it's that he is not alone in having this problem. So, today I wanted to share the four steps that you can take to start getting projects done faster and within budget.
1. Decide on your KPIs.
Starting a new project is always exciting and if you are like most business owners, you love the thrill of a new adventure or project. You enjoy dreaming up the creatives, coming up with the broad strokes of the project, and envisioning what the end result will be when everything comes to fruition. That's the fun part. But unfortunately, if you don't tie actual numbers to the project, you are likely to fall short of your daydreams. So, the first step in any project is to determine what your key performance indicators are. Are you looking to get more website traffic, more leads, more sales, improve your customer service--and the list goes on and on. Taking a moment to pause and determine what your end goal is and how you will measure success is the most important first step.
2. Map out the process and flow.
Once you have your KPIs on paper, it's time to think about the process and the flow. This is part daydream, part reality check. How will you get your company from point A to point B. What steps need to happen in order to meet your goals? Is it a new website? A revision to your sales process? A new manufacturing facility? Now is the time to put it all down on paper and review the flow to make sure that it makes sense and is something that your team can achieve.
3. Determine timelines.
Now that you have your steps laid out, you want to put a timeline together of how long it will take to do each step. Be realistic with your expectations, and leave time for scope creep and the discovery phases. You also want to create check-ins along the way, so your team knows how much should be completed at each checkpoint. Also take note of any steps that rely on others for completion, as this can make a big difference in whether you complete your project on time or not.
4. Delegate who owns each step.
The final step in the process is to delegate each step to a team member or outside party. Be very clear as to who owns each item and who will complete each step of the project. You may have a manager own a section of the project as a whole, but then delegate the steps to a few team members, so be clear on who owns each section overall.
With these four steps, you will be able to start each project off on the right foot and measure for progress along the way. After doing a few projects using this method, you will begin to notice patterns and pain points and discover why you may have missed previous deadlines or went over budget.