Four New Year’s Resolutions for Your Project

It’s never too late to make a new year’s resolution. While many people focus entirely on personal goals in the new year, as professionals, we should consider what kind of resolutions we want to make for our projects. Just like our personal new year’s resolutions, our professional ones can be inspiring, keep us on track, and motivate us throughout the year.

Here are four project management resolutions to consider for 2020.

  1. Monitor your budgets.
    Now is the perfect time to go back to the statement of work and review the particulars, including hours and rates for each scope item. Compare these to the invoices you’ve been receiving and verify the rates are accurate and what you negotiated. Keep a tally of hours billed and track the percentage of the overall allocation.

    Make a point of checking in with your budgets every month. Create a reminder and make sure you verify hours and rates throughout the life of the project.

  2. Manage the schedule.
    On a regular basis set aside time to review, assess, and reflect on the schedule. Are all the tasks still relevant, have assigned staff, and most importantly, have due dates? Were previous tasks and deadlines completed and completed on-time? If not, what went wrong? How can you get the project back on schedule? Are the dates realistic?

    Performing regular schedule reviews eliminates surprises and keeps your team sharp, while simultaneously helping your client achieve their goals.

  3. Track issues and risks.
    Now that it’s a new year, it’s time to assess risks and issues that you had previously and determine what may cause problems in the new year. Many projects take several years to complete and it’s essential to keep out in front of risks.

    The easiest method is to create a spreadsheet and brainstorm (with your team) potential risks or risks you’ve already experienced and assess each of them to determine the impact on your project – the scope, budget, schedule and quality. Try to track any issue that could threaten these vital aspects of your project and determine what level of risk it might have for each phase. Remember, risks will change as the project transitions through its life, so get out in front of issues – any issue – and make sure you have contingency plans and mitigation strategies in place.

    Communicate with your client about potential risks and how you plan to avoid them. By involving the client and being upfront about issues, you can create a more collaborative environment and more openly communicate with your client’s team.

  4. Host weekly meetings
    We often avoid meetings and are aware of how too many meetings can negatively impact project results. But, reviewing a project on a weekly basis with your team is crucial to its success. And, if you do it right, the benefits will far outweigh any negative aspects. Make sure you include upcoming tasks that need review and previous work. How has the project been proceeding? Is your team meeting their deadlines? What are the common problems and are there ways to convert them into assets? Are there clear roles and assignments for all tasks? Does every task have an owner and is that person aware that they are in charge of that item? Where is miscommunication occurring? Is there a weak link in the team? How do you improve communications and determine why a particular staff member may be having problems?

    During the meetings, make it clear who is in charge of every scope item, when it is due, and how staff can communicate risks and issues. Make sure the team is committed to meeting their own individual deadlines and the overall project’s timetable. Determine who on your team has more time and who needs more assistance. Use the weekly meeting to collectively figure out how to make the project better and how to communicate this effort with the client.

    A well-planned project and well-informed team is capable of great things. Establishing a weekly cadence for your meetings will help you stay on track and conveys to the client that their project is a priority.

Of course, there are lots of other project resolutions you can adopt; however, if you start with these four principles, you can keep your project on-time and within budget. Don’t forget to celebrate milestones, address challenges head-on, and keep positive at all times. Resolutions are intended to result in improvements, so keep that in mind throughout the year, and make sure they are realistic so you and your team can succeed.

by Malcolm Hooper, Vice President, Operations

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