Where Do I Start?
|This week we continue our spotlight on project management in small business with the age old question,
"Where do I start?"
In planning a project, there's no one "place" to start as this is not a linear process. Instead, the project management process is a constant flow of information through the project plan. However, in most cases there are two important sections of the project plan that need to be completed early: the business requirements and milestones. If you haven't already, we recommend downloading our sample project plan and using it to follow along this week.
Business Requirements define the wants and expectations of the project. These should include deliverables, which are the tangible and intangible take aways of the project, and what this project must accomplish. At the end of the project these will be used to judge if the project was a success, or not.
Defining the project's business requirements is often one of the first steps taken when starting a new project. Knowing and referencing your business requirements will allow you to quickly:
You start by asking questions, such as:
Business requirements tell you what needs to be accomplished and milestones tell you when and how decisions in the project need to be made. Again this is not a linear process. You should have a good idea of what is needed before jumping too far into the project, but know that with some projects your first milestones could be to define the business requirements or even to define the milestones. Sometimes you may not know all the milestones until you've finished the business requirements.
This is why it's never one or the other when trying to determine where to start. You may have to work on these two elements together. To get started defining milestones, we recommend a simple brainstorm session. Think of all the milestones that the project needs to hit and get them on paper. Use a mind map or just write them down as you think of them. Don't try to order them the first brainstorming session. Your focus should be on what needs to happen in the project. Below are a few questions to think about when determining milestones:
This week we've focused on how business requirements and milestones feed into each other. It's important to note that although there will be changes to business requirements and milestones, there has to be a point in time at which they are considered stable. This point in time should be reached before too much work in the project occurs and should be defined as one of your milestones. Once this point in time is reached any changes to the project should trigger the use of a change process.
Join us next week as we discuss the change process and in two weeks when we wrap up our project management series with creating action steps.