Don’t Skip These 3 Crucial Steps for Successful Project Management


Have you ever participated in a project? Chances are that there was a lot of enthusiasm at the start, especially around what everyone was going to do as part of the project. Humans love a to-do list and checking off tasks. But before you jump in with the doing, here are 3 often skipped but crucial steps that will have more impact on the success of your project than anything else you do:

  1. Define the Objectives: This step helps you weed out whether the project should be a project in the first place and gets everyone on the same page about what you are trying to do. For our projects, we start with a description of the project, a 1-2 sentence purpose statement, and a list of objectives the project is meant to achieve. Sometimes, we discover that the purpose is too broad and we need to break the project down into smaller chunks or tighten up the objectives.

  2. Identify Risks: Doing this causes you to pause and consider what could derail the project before you even begin. Beyond that, you need to document how you will mitigate or respond to the risks you’ve identified. We have 2 risks on every project as a default: 1. Risks will not be sufficiently considered and 2. Appropriate metrics of success will not be identified. Other common risks can center around outside factors that might influence the timeline, budget considerations, or resource availability to devote time to the project. Identifying these issues in advance may cause you to alter your plan, participants, objectives, or timeline to avoid these roadblocks.

  3. Determine Metrics of Success: Speaking of risk #2, how will you know you’ve achieved the objectives you set out in step 1? Successful metrics should be SMART (Specific, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) so it is clear whether you’ve met them or not.

When you take the time to include these steps as part of planning your project, the clarity and alignment you gain from the process help improve your execution.

Here’s a bonus step: don’t skip doing a project post-mortem with the participants and stakeholders after the project is complete. This step helps you talk through what went right, what could have gone better, and what you did that you want to carry into future projects, which will only set you up for success the next time you sit down to define project objectives!

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