We all have parts of the project lifecycle which we particularly dread or simply don’t like. Perhaps the starting point is where you would most like to improve in the future. It is certainly a difficult stage if you aren’t comfortable with the vague and changeable nature of some projects. However, there are a few steps you can take to make it better.
Get As Much Information As You Can
The more knowledge you have about your new project then the better your chances of making a success of it. There are possibly going to be a lot of people who have information which could be of interest to you when you are starting out on it. It is therefore a good idea to not discount any possible source of information or help in these early days. The more information you get hold of in the beginning the easier it will be for you later on. There is far more of a stigma attached to going looking for basic information once the project is well underway than there is in looking for it at the very start, when you can’t be expected to be an expert in something you are only just starting out on. You should take advantage of this temporary state of affairs to ask all of the obvious questions and start to become the expert you will soon need to be.
Keep an Open Mind
There are some projects which will seem easy at the start, or at least the possible solutions will appear to you early on. This is good on one level, because it shows that you are starting to feel comfortable about the idea of making decisions to move the project in the right direction. However, the problem we need to avoid here is that of making a decision too early on. Even if you keep it yourself it is still something which is going to close your mind off to alternative approaches which could be equally valid. It is much better to keep an open mind from the start and try to consider all of the possible options. There are usually a few different ways of meeting your objectives and only by examining them all closely can you expect to choose the best one.
Get Different Opinions
After getting hold of all of the information you need and then considering the different possible ways forward you should start to feel as though you have a handle on the project, but what if you have overlooked something or missed the chance to do something in a better or smarter way? Running a big project is something which needs a team effort and you should definitely not be ashamed of getting others involved in helping you make the right decisions. You could start off with your team members, who will no doubt be delighted to get the chance to add their own thoughts to the process and try to help you shape the project. The stakeholders are also going to be extremely interested in seeing how you are going to deliver the solution and they will often have an interesting point of view on some of the subjects which you are working on.
Break Up the Work
The end of the project can seem a long way off when you first start out. For some project managers this isn’t a big deal but for others it can be a lot easier if they can find a way of breaking up the work and making it seem a lot simpler to achieve some success. In this respect it is probably easiest if you try and divide up the piece of work into a number of sub projects. Some projects lend themselves to this approach more than others but it is worth considering at the start in all cases. If you manage to divide it up in this way then it might make your project plan look a bit messier but it could make it a lot easier to see the way forward and to keep motivation levels high in the team. It can also be a way of making sure that everyone in the team knows exactly what they are involved with instead of having them all think that they are just taking a small piece of a bigger overall project. This can make it easier for you to manage them and also let them enjoy the work more.