10 “Evergreen” Ways to Avoid Project Delays

turtle-182121_640Sure and begorrah! ‘Twas on St. Patrick’s Day, I read a post by Joel Klettke that had an “evergreen” (sorry about that pun) message about constantly being overdue. When it comes to scheduling, he said, that being tardy all the time is much like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, who was always, always late. The downfall of many plans, he continued, is that they aren’t planned very well, if at all.

I was immediately nodding in agreement with his premise: If you want your marketing schedules to go off without a hitch, you need to do some serious planning, allowing time for every stage of the process.

Klettke put it all into perspective with, “If you fail to plan, you plan to suck.” And, he goes on to say, “Don’t wing it. Don’t be overly optimistic. Don’t count on assets who can’t deliver. And above all, don’t shirk documentation—because process makes perfect.”

At Solamar we’ve found that if you want to avoid delays, it helps to follow these 10 simple tips:

  1. Tap into an effective project management tool
    A system (or tool) can help manage projects efficiently, and there are many to choose from. If you’re in the market, you should check out this helpful, informative article from Inc. entitled “20 Essential Tools for Project Management.” At Solamar, we use Basecamp, and we love it! It has all the essentials we need in a web-based project management application, including:

    • Management of multiple projects
    • Multiple user management
    • Task management capabilities
    • Milestone setup and management
    • Message boards
    • Whiteboards
    • File management, including uploads and download accessibility
    • Define specific project objectives
  2. In our recent post on marketing strategy, we recommend that you, “Begin with the end in mind.” It should always be tied to a specific goal. “When growing a business or selling a specific product, tie your goal to your revenue plans. Even if you are looking to raise awareness and build your platform right now, keep financial targets in mind.” Do this before starting any element of the project.

  3. Set the budget
    If you have a revenue plan, then setting the specific budget for your project should be relatively easy.
  4. Create a realistic timetable
    You need to be realistic about the actual time and energy to complete the project. Allow time to get the job done, without being unnecessarily rushed (which usually causes the job to suffer). Keeping a deadline in mind, check with everyone on the team to find out how much time they need. Then, set priorities and deadlines for each task and assign someone on your team to keep track of the status of each element of the project. And above all, as you map out the process to get the job done on time and on budget, be sure to watch out for potential bottlenecks. And be flexible. Keep in mind this message from a recent post by Adam Green, “… artificial deadlines are bullshit and usually do more harm than good.” Setting a deadline is fine, but too much rigidity can result in sub-par work just for the sake of getting done (something nobody wants, right?).
  5. Define the approval process
    Include all team members in the project from Day 1. You’ll need to get them on board or risk getting denied (over and over and over…). As part of the approval process, make sure that each approver knows what he or she is and is not responsible for.
  6. Make sure everyone has what they need in advance
    Don’t start the job until you’re certain your team members have everything they need to complete each aspect of the project. And check back with them, after they’ve had time to review your input. Is everything clear? Do they need anything else?
  7. Document the process
    When you force yourself to sit down and write out the project stages, you’ll be confronted with the realities of the process you might have otherwise breezed over in your mind. You’ll also have a roadmap you can share with team members, while making your project a collaborative process.
  8. Test on a smaller scale
    People never want to do this, but it just makes sense. Test your project before you go whole-hog. This way you will see if and where things could go nuclear when you scale up.
  9. Check and recheck
    Stay on top of how things are coming along. What are team members stuck on? How can you help things get back on course? Take time to check in with your team regularly, to see if things are proceeding as planned. How can you help them get un-stuck?
  10. Don’t be afraid of change
    Sometimes, great new ideas emerge even while a project is underway. Don’t immediately reject it. Embrace change, especially if it improves your project.

What’s the secret to minimizing the delays (and stress) of project management? Talk to Solamar!

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