There are so many things that can go wrong when starting a project. 

  • Delays
  • Scope creep
  • Roadblocks
  • Poor quality delivered as a result of the above

But there’s a solution to all of the above and it comes down to:

  • Clarity and directives
  • Proper management 
  • Detailed project plans

One way to set your project up for success is to use this project management process

  1. Prepare a directive template
  2. Prepare a plan using these phases of a project

Prepare a directive template

The directive template is a written document that is prepared by the project manager and gives a high level overview of what you’re trying to accomplish.

It should have these components to it. 

  • Thesis – A brief description that explains the problem / opportunity and the purpose of the project
  • Goals – What you will track in order to know if you have reached the goal. Specific, measurable results that an organization needs to attain by a specified due date to make progress in achieving a specific objective. Goals should be SMART.
  • Start + End Dates – State how long you expect this project to take from start to finish and add your dates to a calendar.
  • Deliverables – Individual, stand alone, complete parts of a project. You can always scale back deliverables in order to complete projects within a certain time frame and budget.
    • Use this to break the project up into manageable parts while setting clear expectations
  • Phases – Milestones for a project with due dates.
  • Obstacles – A list of potential roadblocks. 

Prepare the project plan

Once you have your directive template written, you can prepare a project plan using these project phases as your outline.

  1. Discovery – The research phase of a project. The end result of this phase is extremely well defined deliverables.
  2. Schematic / Component Design – Based on each defined deliverable you need to think of all the components that make up each deliverable. The end result of this phase is full scope.
  3. Development – Components are developed backed by the project plan, using the information gained during discovery and always referring back to the directive
  4. Pre-Launch – Verify the work done and make any last minute changes before delivery
  5. Post-Launch – After delivery there are always lingering tasks to clean up. Create a final punch list to take care of it. Perform a retrospective immediately after each project to see what could be improved and acknowledge achievements.

Of course this all sounds easier said than done, but the initial planning stage is truly a vital part to creating a successful project. 

It’s important to make this process as lean as possible so you don’t get stuck in the planning stage. Break the deliverables down down into chunks that you can quickly execute, learn from and pivot when necessary.

Get started planning your own projects:

  1. Download our free directive template.
  2. Copy our sample trello board to plan your projects.