Here is your guide
We love to see that you're interested in project management! In this guide, we offer 9 steps for carrying out a successful project. If you have any questions or would like to hear more about project management, you are welcome to contact us. Write to us here.
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1. Start by setting clear goals
Setting clear goals is essential for the entire project. The goal is a clear specification of why this project will be launched.
The goals must be anchored with the customer/client and will form the basis of the offer you are to make.
Determine the criteria for goal achievement
It is also important to decide which criteria should determine whether the goals have been achieved. Go through this with the customer so that your expectations are aligned.
2. Offers, pricing and invoicing
The offer you send to the customer must reflect the goals you have defined. The offer must include prices and time estimates for all the elements and milestones. The more detailed and accurate the offer is, the less uncertainty there will be about invoicing and whether the project has been completed.
Agree on the pricing model
Many businesses that carry out project-based work find it difficult to actually get paid for the hours they work. Therefore, it is very important to agree upfront on the pricing model: Should the project be priced at a fixed price or on the number of hours?
Clarify which costs can be invoiced and which cannot
All the costs that may occur in the project should be clarified with the customer in advance. What can be invoiced? What cannot be invoiced? Should expenses be included in the total price or invoiced in addition to it?
In the offer, there should also be an agreement on what happens if the hourly consumption is higher than expected. There is no guarantee that you can invoice hours that exceed what was originally planned. Agreeing on how these hours should be handled prior to project start-up can have a major impact on project finances.
When the contract is signed with the agreed pricing, the price must be entered into the project tool. If there are price changes, this must also be added to the contract.
Keep track of hourly use along the way (set an automatic notification for hourly consumption)
Make sure you keep track of how many hours you spent on the project. If you use a project system, you can notify when the project has reached a certain consumption limit - for example, 20% or 40%. This way, you do not have to go into the system and monitor the project hours every day.
With an hourly consumption notice, you have the opportunity to measure the progress of your project.
Regular status meetings can make a big difference
Once you have set up hourly consumption warnings, it is a good idea to set up a status meeting with the rest of the team to see if the number of hours spent reflects the completed work. The information that is shared in the status meeting can help you decide on the further course. Do you have to adjust the course or are you on track to finish the project as agreed? These status meetings can make the difference between delivering a project according to expectations or not.
If you notice that several more hours are needed for the project, it is a good idea to contact the customer in order to avoid the overconsumption being discovered only when the invoice is sent to the customer.
Expert Tips: Discounts
If it is necessary to give the customer a discount, it is important to give a discount on the hourly rate, not the number of hours used on the project. This makes it clear to the customer as to how many hours the project will actually demand, and it also helps the customer get the right expectations of how many hours you will spend and the timeline for the project.
3. Define the scope of the workload, time, resources and quality
It is often challenging to estimate how many hours you need to complete a project.
If you estimate too few hours, you risk expanding the estimated hours too quickly, but still, a lot of work remains. On the other side, you will not want to estimate too many hours because you might scare the customer away. This is a difficult assessment but an important one.
Learn from previous projects
Looking at previous projects is a good place to start so that you can use it as a reference. Look at the number of hours spent in each phase and measure it up with the number of estimated hours, pitfalls to avoid, and other information that can help form a good assessment basis.
With good estimates, it will be easier to plan resources.
Set realistic deadlines and plan your resources well
It is easy to get so excited about a project that you want to start immediately and think that the project will be completed in no time. However, remember that many people will be involved in the project, and the resources you want to put into the project may already be involved in a different project. Make sure you have a good resource planning tool to help you get the right competence involved in the project.
Include participants and inform them about the estimated time
It is important that everyone on the team is informed about how many hours are intended to be spent on their work tasks, the timeline and the deadlines. With this information, it will be easier for each individual to limit and control their own hourly consumption.
4. Put together a well-composed team
A team should be formed as soon as the project starts taking form. The earlier you think about the project’s composition of people, the easier it is to set a price and plan and to implement it.
Aim for a good mix of skills and personal qualities
The team should consist of a good mix of both skills and personalities that work well together. With the right competence, you ensure that the work tasks are performed with high quality, in addition to the fact that they have the prerequisites to complete the task within the time they have been assigned.
Make a plan for the personal development of each participant
As a project manager, you should care about the team's development and, therefore, make conscious choices about which work tasks you assign to each individual. The tasks should be challenging to each team member but not unattainable. This will ensure high motivation.
Make sure to evaluate the competence in advance of the project, you will have a better basis for knowing who can master the various tasks.
Tip: Keep a good overview of the available resources with a good resource management system. This way, you won't count your chickens before they're hatched.
Clarify the responsibilities of the team
For most companies that carry out project-oriented work, the areas of responsibility are usually pre-set. Some are project managers, while others are contributors. Still, it is advisable that you clarify the expectations and areas of responsibility so that it is easier to follow up with everyone and ensure that the project goes according to plan.
If possible, the project participants should be involved early in the planning of the project. This way, they will get the chance to give their input and influence the parts of the project they are to be part of.
5. Communication plan
Clear or unclear communication in a project can make or break it. Because of this, you should set clear guidelines.
Make a plan for involving the customer during the project
As a project manager, you are responsible for creating a good relationship with the customer. This is done by keeping the customer updated on a regular basis, invoicing at the agreed time, and informing them about any changes (preferably as long in advance as possible). It is important to not just be in contact with the customer when problems arise – that will create bad customer relationships.
It can be a good idea to make a plan for how often and in which way you should update the customer. That way, you get useful feedback along the way so you can check that you are on the right track and adjust the goals and deadlines if necessary.
Make a plan for internal communication in the team
How often will the team communicate and in which way? Will you have daily meetings for status updates or is it sufficient to give updates in a shared document?
Status reports should be sent out by the project manager and there should be a clear plan for frequency as well as who should be in the recipient list.
As a project manager, you must also take 1-to-1 communication with each team member seriously. People have different communication styles. Some prefer clear and direct communication, while others want a softer approach.
6. Define the milestones
The goals you have defined in the project facilitate everyone in the project working in the same direction. As the goals are achieved, this can be marked with a milestone. Milestones symbolise a highlight in the project and can act as a motivating factor. It may symbolise a phase in the project being over and a new phase starting.
Feel free to set these milestones together with the customer and involve the entire project group.
When the milestone arrives, it is time to check the progress of the project so far and report to the customer and internally in the project.
The difference between goals and milestones
Goals and milestones may sound similar. The difference is that, with goals, you look ahead, and with milestones, you look back on what has been done.
7. Risk assessment: What obstacles may occur?
It is impossible to predict all the potential problems that can occur during a project, but you are much better equipped to deal with a problem if you have thought about it beforehand.
Look at deviation reports to identify the pitfalls
Use deviation reports to gather information about previous pitfalls. By including these assessments in your own project, you can make a plan to avoid the same pitfall and make a plan for what you can do if you end up there. This will save you a lot of time and resources.
Revise the routines
With good routines for how work tasks are to be performed, you will limit the possibilities of ending up in unfortunate situations.
If a routine is not good enough and fails, it is important to revise the routine, and then make changes. This will help you further strengthen your routines so that you can avoid deviations. The routines can be based on sharing experiences and previous projects.
Ensure you have a good quality assurance tool. The system should include functionality for non-conformance registration and non-conformance handling, checklists, identification of requirements, risk assessment and routines. Read more here
8. Documentation is time-consuming – and very important
Forgetting to document is a known issue in projects. It is such a mundane and time-consuming task! But even so, documenting is important.
If one of the team members quits the project, the documentation done along the way will become very valuable for the team member picking up the tasks.
Expert Tip: Let the systems take care of most of the documentation
If you use cloud services for file storage, then version control and change history often take care of the documentation.
A task management tool is also documentation in itself in that it contains detailed descriptions and decisions.
9. Evaluate the project after delivery to learn from it
Regardless of whether you delivered the project to standing ovations from the customer or with dissatisfaction: There is always something to learn from the project.
Evaluating the project afterward is valuable because you can then see what you did that worked well and what you should do differently next time. That way, you can develop a best practice.
The successful projects can be used as references for the next offer process.
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