VD31: How To Put Together A Project Plan

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In order to turn your dreams into a reality, it’s important to get your ideas down and put together a project plan. At the end of the day, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Devising a project plan is by no means fun or sexy, but it’s crucial if you want to grasp how long individual tasks take, and the requirements needed to accomplish your vision.

Having a ‘to do’ list alone is not enough unfortunately. So below are a few practical approaches to help you make a few simple adjustments and create a project plan…

1) Write down your goals and be specific

As a first step, it’s essential to identify your goals. What are you trying to accomplish? Would you like to launch your e-commerce website this year? Perhaps generate more revenue? Once you understand what your primary goal is, you will then need to get specific. As an example, generating more revenue could mean that you would like to make $5K in sales per month. If that’s the case, you will need to have a realistic marketing plan in place and break down the tasks needed to accomplish each of these areas.

2) Break down goals into tasks and sub-tasks

So this is where you break down your goals. You will need to understand a project life-cycle, meaning getting to grips with the different phases necessary to bring your project to fruition. For example, if you’re trying to create a marketing plan, some ‘landmarks’ you might like to think about could include: 1) research 2) brainstorming 3) developing a plan 4) executing. By breaking down each phase of the project you can then start to create  tasks. For example, your research phase could include: 1) putting together a survey for your existing customers 2) demographic research 3) competitive research 4) researching trends. All of these elements are crucial in helping your marketing plan come to life.

3) Set Milestones

Once you have a list of all tasks needed to complete your project, the next step is to map these out into a timeline. You must establish the amount of effort and time that each task will take to carry out. Is someone helping you, or are you executing this project by yourself? The more accurate and realistic your milestones are, the easier it will be for you to track your progress and not lose faith on the project at hand. If the project derails for any reason, don’t panic. Simply update your deliverables section with more accurate dates.

4) Assign Tasks

If you’re working within a team, you can choose to assign different tasks to each individual stakeholder. Speak to them in turn about your expectations and make sure they feel that you have set realistic time frames. Additionally, you must always consider adding some extra review time for any work that is being outsourced to freelancers or contractors. By doing so, this enables you to give strategic feedback which your outsourced staff can then adjust based on your comments.

At this point in the planning process, you should choose to use some software or an app to help you manage your project – which tool you use will be based on the level of complexity of your project. I personally like working with Microsoft Project, but that’s because I have a background in project management and I’m familiar with the likes of gantt charts. Other great online tools include: Azendoo, Trello, Podio, Asana, and Basecamp. Input all of those important deliverables, tasks, durations and the resources needed in order to complete each task.

Finally, be sure to look at the health of your project – make sure that each task is on track and adjust your timing if necessary.

Happy planning guys!

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