Have you ever had a project for a customer or client that started off seemingly simple and then turned into a nightmare? Avoid project headaches and make sure you deliver what your customers expect with these seven steps to successful project management.
1. Plan Early and Often
After meeting with your client, convey your client’s expectations to everyone involved in delivering the goods, whether employees, freelancers or independent contractors.
2. Prevent Scope Creep
You know how projects often start small, then get bigger and bigger—but the amount you get paid for them doesn’t? Nip scope creep in the bud with a clearly worded contract that states exactly what you’ll deliver and how much you’ll be paid. You may want to set limits on the number of reviews, amount of upgrades or otherwise clarify that if the project expands beyond what is laid out in the contract, the client will incur additional fees.
3. Break It Down
Determine your ultimate deliverables and due date, then work backward from there to set intermediate goals and deadlines. Avoid last-minute panic by building in extra time for those unforeseen delays that inevitably arise. And always keep in mind that some clients are just unresponsive and you will need additional time to manage that.
Determine who will be responsible for what. Even if it’s just you and a couple of freelancers handling the project, make sure everyone understands their responsibilities.
5. Use Technology
Project management gets complicated when you’re working with people remotely. Keep everyone on the same page even if you’re not in the same building with tools like Wrike, DeskAway or Trello. Project management tools allow you to share documents; communicate by email, IM and other means; assign and schedule tasks and deadlines; track time and more. You can also set different levels of access so clients can be kept in the loop without seeing all your internal data.
6. Keep Communication Going
Use regular status meetings, email updates or other alerts to inform everyone involved of progress, possible roadblocks and what you need to get the job done.
7. Don’t Hide the Bad News
You suddenly realized a miscalculation on your part means the project may be delayed two weeks. Do you hide the news from the client, or ‘fess up? Bite the bullet and deliver the bad news ASAP—but make sure you also have a strategy for getting around the problem.
Sometimes projects become much larger animals than you originally intended. Taking and applying these 7 tips in your next project can help reduce that headache.
Photo credit: Digital Vision/Thinkstock