Monday, March 12, 2007

Setting yourself up for success

You just received a project due in 5 days. How will you accomplish this goal in a timely manner and deliver?

It's all about setting yourself up for success, so that you deliver the best possible content in a 5 day span, and actually finish it before it's due. This way, it will allow leway between edits and completion. The strategy for accomplishing this is to establish a project plan that spans 5 days. The plan should include all the work that needs to get done, in order to finish the project on time, as well as periods where certain portions of the project need to be complete. Once you have established this plan, you need to follow it for the 5 days.

If this is a collaboration effort, you must include the other "stakeholders" in your plan, and mark the days in which they need to take part in this initiative. If they have to sign off on pieces of the project or the entire project, mark these gates on your plan. If it is a long-term plan, you may included phases or draft cycles. The important thing to consider is how complex the project is and the audience it is being provided to. After you know those pieces, you can construct the project plan to meet the needs and requirements of the audience. Make sure you communicate this plan with the stakeholders of the project, so that everyone is on the same page.

To properly set yourself up for success, you should bring the due date of the project to at least 1 day before it is due. This will provide pressure at first, but you will have less stress closer to the deadline.

A good tool to use to create plans, such as the one described above is Microsoft Project, which is project management software designed to track the progress of a project and attach resources and deadlines.

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