Project management techniques play an important role in the world around you. Many of the most visually imposing features of your life would not be there without effective project management.
Let us just consider one example: the aircraft you fly away on for your vacation. That aircraft is an end result of a highly complex project, probably covering several different locations and even countries. Design, engineering, manufacturing; all these could be spread around in different offices and buildings. Each of those elements is complex and may involve several professional disciplines, with safety and comfort a feature at all times.
Take away the management of that aircraft project, and then try to imagine how the resulting aircraft may have looked. Without the co-ordination provided by good management, what you would end up with, if anything, may not even look like an airplane at all. Components may not fit, or may not arrive; the wings may have been designed, but their manufacture not ordered; the wheels may be designed for the wrong size of aircraft. All sorts of bizarre things could occur, and the aircraft would not get off the ground, probably never even be half assembled.
When you get on an aircraft, you are boarding the successful result of a project well and professionally managed. But what if you changed the project from an aircraft to your own future success; and then applied some basic project management techniques to achieve a successful outcome to “Project Success”? Your chances of achieving success would be greatly enhanced.
You may be thinking that your success is so personal that it is simple, with nobody else involved, and therefore needs no management at all. You may argue that success, if it is going to happen, is just going to happen. The reality of achievement, though, is never that simple. An element of self management will always be needed to be successful, so why not increase your chances of the perfect outcome to “Project Success” and manage it effectively? After all, you are more complex than that sleek, hi-tech aircraft transporting you to your holiday destination.
In practice, though, how can you take the project management approach of building an aircraft, and apply those techniques to “Project Success?”
Applying Project Management Techniques to Personal Success.
In a short article, I can only touch upon a few headings which may help guide you to guide yourself. These are important components of managing a project of any sort, and could be applied to “Project Success”. Here are some ideas which may help put yourself in control of your own success destiny.
“Project Success – The Vision”
Until you have a definite end in mind, you have no project. There would be no point having a project to build an aircraft, only to find in the end that what was needed was a submarine. As an individual, it is just as important to have a clear idea of the end aim; what really is the success you are seeking? Once fully identified, you can plan “Project Success”.
As an individual, though, this stage can help to pave the way for a smooth project. If you take your time to visualize in some detail what success for you would entail, then you can harvest the benefits of visualization, which can be a useful personal tool in carving an opening to reach where you want to go. One idea is to sit quietly and alone, and visualize your perfect life in 5 years’ time. Then, carefully write down the main components of that future life. You could then take that as your end product of “Project Success”.
Outline Plan For “Project Success”
Once you have a clear vision of your overall success objective, then it is worth forming an outline plan of how you are going to achieve that success. At this stage, you may not have much idea of the detail anyway. Even for an outline plan, you may need to do some research first.
For the sake of this illustration, let us assume your vision of success is to have your own business for the first time, based at home and on the internet. This is an ambition shared by millions of people across the world.
Your initial research may show you that, in outline, you need to:
a. choose the type of online business that you want and in what market;
b. learn about website design and building;
c. learn about internet marketing and offline marketing if not already known;
d. study people who have already succeeded in an online business;
e. work out a financial budget;
f. formulate a business plan based on the outcome of a, b, and c above, taking into account e. You conclude d. will be ongoing.
The above are just examples, and not comprehensive, but it is enough to give you a idea of how to get started. There are many methods of project management, which are mostly designed for big projects, but you could also include the following in your “Project Success” plan:
Consider the Risks
Risk assessment is a normal part of large project, but it can be just as critical for you, especially when it comes to assessing the financial implications and affect on close family. Discuss with your spouse and older children if possible; their support and understanding could be critical later.
Assessing Resources Required
The resources you will need will be a mix of time, free information, free software, paid for software, paid for services and other items of expenditure that are essential to your success. That is based only on your first assessment of what you need to have and to do. Always bear in mind that your personal success project will need to be flexible, as you will learn much as you go along and have to adjust your plan accordingly.
Assigning and Managing Project Tasks
This may sound very simple: assign all tasks to yourself and carry them out yourself. But you are not that simple, and managing yourself is not that simple. In fact, you are are probably about the worse person you could wish to manage, until you train yourself not to be.
While it is possible to contract out tasks, a golden rule of outsourcing is to first understand in detail what it is you are outsourcing. Leave that for later when you are accomplished in your new success role and fully understand the business you are in.
So, to begin with, assign yourself all the tasks, having first listed them all down. You will not have all the resources you need, as you will inevitably be lacking in certain areas of knowledge. Note down what those knowledge gaps are, as filling them will need to be built into a more detailed plan.
Create Detailed Project Plan – Task by Task
By now you should have enough information to build a more detailed plan. Now we are not talking about building a rocket here. Despite your own complexities, this should still be a relatively simple plan for each task, and you should be prepared to change it later if necessary. Your plan is intended as an aid to your success, not a ball and chain dragging you down. You will learn fast as you go along, and need to adapt quickly.
Prioritize Project Tasks
In complex projects, progress can be curtailed by bad priority management. I have seen this in practice, when called in to take over the key, time critical, part of a large project installing a new computerised accounting system. I soon realised why it had fallen so far behind. Project team members were, against their own better judgement, being forced into spending time on trivia that the project leader liked doing, rather than driving the key areas of the project forward.
Beware of your own inclination to do the same. In “Project Success” you will have to manage yourself, according to priorities, but not according to your comfort zone. It is how you respond to this challenge that will dictate whether you will be a successful online businessman, or someone who is just playing with it for fun.
Controlling and Monitoring Progress of “Project Success”.
This is where you will be tested in your own self discipline and management ability. You need to establish points in the plan where you will review progress. In a normal project situation, the project management team would probably have regular management meetings, where those heading each key task have to report progress and co-ordinate with others.
You need to do the same, as yourself, and perhaps review progress once a week or, at minimum, once a month. If you can get a mentor in your chosen business, then that would be a great help; or you may like to get your spouse or a friend to add a critical input to your progress. The important thing is that you must make an unemotional assessment of how you are progressing, where things are going right or wrong, and what, if any, changes to the plan need to be made. A plan is a plan is a plan; change it if you have to, and do not think of changing it as an admittance of defeat, it is a triumph of actual knowledge over guesswork.
By using some of the disciplines mentioned above, you can help guide yourself to a successful conclusion to “Project Success.”