When tasked with managing a team initiative, start by reviewing the previous process for executing the task. However, when faced with managing a new project without a roadmap to reference, it is sometimes difficult to decide where to start. Whether it’s the creation of an experience management system, a firm video or a client-facing marketing campaign, below are five tips to successfully kickstart your next team project.
- Begin at the end. Who, what, where, when, how and why questions inevitably arise during the planning process. Who owns it the deliverable? What do we want to achieve? Where will it live internally and externally? When will we roll it out to clients? How are we going to market this? Why will clients care about this? Answers to these questions will take shape more efficiently when a team can articulate what success looks like from the outset. That’s why it is critical that the entire team – meaning both the group that is implementing the initiative and the lawyers who approve it – agree on what they want to achieve early in the process. By doing so, the team can better determine the most effective steps needed to reach their goal.
- Involve the entire team. Roles and responsibilities are typically determined early in the project management process and are often assigned according to team members’ skill sets and availability. But a team is not limited to those who are doing the work. A team also may include lawyers whose buy-in is needed, subject matter experts who should be consulted, and peers who can provide invaluable input. Involving these folks early in the process will minimize unforeseen hurdles as you reach the end zone.
- Outline deliverables and resources needed. Sharing a written list of deliverables and resources needed to get the job done will clarify expectations and responsibilities. Without a written list, assignments and other details face greater risk of falling through the cracks.
- Share a detailed timeline. Draft a detailed timeline including key deadlines for deliverables and approvals. Build in time for revising deliverables as needed. Consider your team members and lawyers’ schedules, and anticipate possible challenges that may arise to ensure your timeline is realistic. It helps to know in advance whether one of your key players will be out of the office or whether a lawyer will be tied up at trial, for example. Outlining the sequence of tasks will clarify when each step should occur so input and approvals are obtained at the appropriate time. Discovering that a subject matter expert was consulted just a day before the deadline can derail the train at the last minute.
- Communicate early and often. While articulating the team’s goal and expectations early in the process is key, communication throughout the life cycle of a project is just as critical to ensuring the project runs on schedule and as planned. After the project is completed, brief your team on the results, best practices and lessons learned. Remember to give thanks so that the team appreciates how everyone’s efforts contributed to the project’s success.
By Leslie Valenza