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8 Tips for Project Success
By Barney Austen

You have your project. Your team is in place. Focus on the end point and off you go. Stick to the plan and the project will go without a hiccup or hitch.

Yeah – right! Anyone who has delivered a project or service to a client knows that it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Team problems, quality failures, over-demanding customers, budget blow-outs. The list is endless.

Add to this that the majority of projects are delivered by small business owners who are also trying to run the day to day operations and it’s no wonder that projects can go off track.
So how do small business owners deliver successful projects?

There are a few steps that the business owner can take to make sure a project goes to plan while allowing them to run the overall business.

  1. Project scoping. Know exactly what you are delivering to your clients. Sounds a bit daft – of course you know what you are delivering otherwise they would not have employed you. However, what I am talking about here is making sure that the project is defined to include not only what you are delivering but also what you are not. By doing this, you are setting the correct level of expectation with the customer.
  2. Defined project deliverables. Agreeing with the customer the sign-offs that will be undertaken to get project approval and closure from them. This will help to put an end-point in place.

  3. Valid project timeline. Create a project timeline/duration that you can stand over. A customer or client will always demand faster if possible, but you need to be able to commit to that timeline. If you can’t – explain why. If they still insist, start reducing the scope as the compromise. Remember – you are the expert. You know how long something is going to take you, not the client.

  4. Project tasks. Break your project down into meaningful and achievable steps. It’s amazing how less daunting a project looks when you do this and as you achieve each you’ll get a great sense of satisfaction along the way.

  5. Project communication. Talk to your team. Talk to your customers. Let everyone know what is going on all the time. This will help prevent the build up of problems as smaller issues will get dealt with openly and more quickly.

  6. Project tracking. Have some mechanism of keeping tabs on what you are doing. A notebook, an excel sheet, MS Project (shudder), an online project management tool (sure we had to add it in!)… whatever. As long as it allows you to keep track, it’s doing it’s job!

  7. Assessing Project Risk. Know what can go wrong. The more experienced you are, the easier this becomes. But it can’t hurt to plan in advance on how you will handle things that can go wrong.

  8. Know your limits. You’re not Superman. Know what you can and can’t do before you start on any project and make sure you’re dealing with what you can cope with – be that on your own or with your team. Get help if you need it – external expertise, sub-contractors…

These are just eight areas that can help you out. There are bound to be more that you have come across.

Barney Austen is the founder of http://beta.myprojecttracker.com/ (still in Beta), an easy to use, cost effective, powerful tool to provide both business owners and project managers the key information needed to run their projects efficiently and effectively. Barney Austen’s passion is to help businesses through the provision of functionally relevant, but intuitive products. You can read more from Barney on his company’s blog, available here.

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