6 Tips for Streamlining a Project

project.jpgWhether you’re a full time corporate employee or a solopreneur, there have been times when clients or bosses drop large projects into your lap.

Suppose someone hands you a five-pound box of paper and tells you that it’s part of a project that’s due next week!

Or what about if you’re creating a business model for your own company – that’s a pretty voluminous project.

Here are some must-have tips for streamlining the work so that things get done right and move forward according to schedule.

Create a plan

A house builder doesn’t just show up at the site and start building. He works closely with an architect, creating blueprints–a plan on how the structure will be created and built. The same holds true for any type of project you’re working on. You need to have a big picture view of the project and then sit down and plan out how you’re going to get from start to finish.

While planning may seem like an extra step when you can just get right to it, it can actually save you a lot of time and mistakes in the long run, making it faster to get from start to finish than if you just wing it as you go along.

Form a team

Teamwork is an ideal way to streamline a project — in fact, many small business owners form teams of freelance professionals to churn out work faster, please clients with their expertise, and pull in more profit in less time.

Each team member should bring something unique to the table, so assign tasks that utilize these talents. Not only will you get the task completed quicker, but you’ll get it done effectively because you’ll have the best people working on what they do best. If you’ve ever attempted to “do it all alone,” you know how disconcerting that can be, not to mention what a time and energy drainer. When you form a team, even if you’re paying money to those people, you’re giving yourself back the gift of time and energy to focus on other important things.

Create a timeline

While a plan lists out the tasks required to get the project done, a timeline adds deadlines to the tasks. Creating a timeline lets everyone know when each task has to be completed, and also gives a sense of cooperation – because you’re depending on another person’s expedience before you can move forward with your portion of the work. Timelines also helps to eliminate procrastination. If everyone involved strives to meet the deadlines, the project begins to take on momentum and a sense of accomplishment – while fuels expedience even more!

Create procedures

Now that you know where you’re going with the project (plan) and when you need to get there, you’ve got to figure out how this will be pulled off. Will you automate certain parts of this by utilizing the appropriate computer programs? Will you outsource to other people who can offer part-time help for less than you would have paid a full-timer? What about communication – is it worth mapping out explicit instructions for people to follow, so that each person takes the shortest distance to success?

Each time you tap into another productive solution, document it and turn it into instructions that other members of the team can use to help move things along. By creating procedures, you’re creating the directions, the road map if you will, on how to get from one task to the next, finally bringing the project to completion. Also – if someone else brings a new idea to the table on how to get something done even faster or more efficiently – hear them out. Procedures should be adhered to, but also offer some flexibility. After all, you want to do what truly works, not what you think will work! This is how great companies continue to innovate new solutions every day!

Keep track of the progress

It’s not enough to just create a plan and run with it. It also streamlines the process if you keep track of how the project’s progressing. As a task is completed, check it off or highlight it before moving on to the next task. If the group reaches a milestone, pump in some fresh energy with a little celebrating and some kudos all around – this keeps spirits fresh and motivation levels high.

If a deadline is looming, make sure that everyone working on the project is reminded of what has to be completed and when — this way, there can be no excuses or oversights. If deadlines are being missed, try to figure out why so that the problem can be corrected and avoided as you move along. Don’t forget to document your solution as part of the procedure or “order of operations.”

Have a back-up plan

Even the perfect plans run into snags, so make sure you have a back-up plan in place. During the planning process, try to anticipate problems or issues that may come up during the project and prepare for how you’ll deal with these snags.

In order to streamline a project, you’ve got to take control. Plan before you jump in with both feet. Form a team and assign tasks to various people to get the job done faster and more effectively. Set deadlines and stick to them. Figure out how you’re going to carry the plan out. In case something goes wrong, make sure you have a back-up plan in place. If you do these six things, you’ll be well on your way to seeing your project finished a lot faster than if you muddle through it as you go.

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