What could be more intimidating to a business than the prospect of launching a new ecommerce website? Or merging with a competitor? Or implementing a new business process management software solution that will touch virtually every department in the company?
Lots of thoughts go through your head as you consider taking on a project that might take months or years, and will impact your company and your people for a long time to come.
Just think of the prospects of establishing goals, developing a budget, recruiting a multi-departmental work team, posting a timeline, updating stakeholders and meeting the deadline with results that are commensurate with costs and effort.
Where do you start?
Find a Leader
Step one is to find a leader -- an internal or external resource who comes with extensive project management experience. If you find the right resource, this person can carve a gigantic project into bite-size portions and give direction and substance to a concept that might have started life as more of an ephemeral wish than solid direction. The right project manager will be able to steer your undertaking, no matter how ambitious, from initiation through successful close.
Another very early step will be to establish SMART goals. That’s an acronym for goals that are:
Specified - Your goals are well-defined; you can clearly explain to yourself and to others what you intend to do.
Measurable - You’ll be able to calculate whether your company will, for instance, boost productivity by 15 percent or cut costs by 11 percent as a result of the goals you hope to achieve.
Agreed Upon - If half of your department heads are grumbling about the advisability of undertaking this project, you might need to revise or keep talking.
Realistic - We all want to double year-to-year revenue, but is that realistic? If it’s not, you’ll never hit your goal.
Time-Framed - Will this project eventually come to fruition? Projects without timelines are unlikely to remain a priority for anyone.
Ambitious But Attainable Goals
Be sure that all stakeholders have been identified and that they are kept informed and involved. Then stay flexible and ready to adapt to changing conditions and expectations.
Proper project management is a matter of setting realistic expectations, selecting the right leader and team and providing expert follow-through in pursuit of ambitious but attainable goals. Map a strategy this way and you’ll be surprised at all your can accomplish.
A client of mine, a furniture retailer, decided they had to upgrade their enterprise resource planing (ERP) software and processes, switching from one vendor to another.
Implementing a new ERP system for a company of that size would normally take at least six months, but the disgruntled current vendor gave my client 45 days before shutting down their existing software solution -- so that was our timeline.
We did it. By recruiting a knowledgeable and talented work team and initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing on a strategy established with concise SMART goals, we were able to meet the deadline and save the company from additional heartache.
Don’t let ambitious projects intimidate you. Set your goals, put the right people in place under the direction of an experienced project manager and you’ll garner impressive results.
David Singletary is a software project manager at Wiss & Company LLP with over 20 years’ experience in project management. You can contact him at (973) 994-9400 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.