Project management by the numbers
Question: How do you eat an elephant?
Answer: One bite at a time
When I heard that CustomRetailer wanted me to focus on the topic of project management, I must admit a little smile crossed my lips. I couldn’t help but think of that old joke, “How do you eat an elephant…?”
Project management is tough. Sometimes just approaching a big project feels like eating an elephant. Where do you begin? Will you ever finish? It can be overwhelming.
Project management is also a subject that I’ve studied quite a bit. While I grew up through the ranks of sales and marketing, I frequently found myself drawn to project management and product development. The first project I ran was a cross-functional product development project that led to the creation of the IntelliPad. Project management became a fascinating challenge, and I studied a number of great books on the subject.
One of the key things I learned is that any project can and should be broken down into more manageable parts—and those parts generally come in six stages. Follow these six stages, and I guarantee your chances of a successful project outcome will increase dramatically.
While technically not part of a project, understanding where a project fits within your overall business strategy is crucial. Let’s say for example, your strategy is mid-level installs that enable your crew to be in and out quickly and your cash flow to be steady. You’ve structured your business processes and your staff around this strategy, and it’s something you know you can execute. Along comes a mega-project and it’s tempting. But if you carefully consider the project against your overarching business strategy, you’ll come to the conclusion that it just doesn’t fit. Therefore, the first stage of any project is strategic. Make sure you don’t take on just any project. “If it doesn’t fit—just quit.”