Without A Plan It Wont Work
It’s usually the first question to pop out of someone’s mouth when presented with a new project or landing a big new client. How do I/we do this? Whether deciding on a how to give your client’s website a facelift, devise a new client SEO strategy, manage a client’s on-line reputation, building a new gazebo in your backyard or planning an event for 250 people-one thing is for sure. None of it will work without a good, solid plan.
Before we get started, a few quick words of advice. Keep the length of your plan readable. If it’s so long that nobody involved feels compelled to thoroughly read through it-then guess what-it is too long. Generally speaking your plan should do the following. First it should tell you where your business or project is going and second it should cover the time frame and identify milestones/performance measures for how you will know when you have achieved your goals, objectives and strategies.
All that being said, here are the key components that will assist you with assembling a solid plan.
Goal: First and foremost a goal is very broad in purpose and very often associated with the company mission statement. It should be the number one statement to which you or your company is committed.
Objective: In simple terms, this is a specific, measurable result you are expecting to see within a certain time period. This time period should also be defined in your plan. Your objective should also have defined measures to clearly define not only when you have succeeded, but also when you have failed. Your objective should also be S.M.A.R.T. (a business acronym). This means that you have spent time to analyze your goal and it is:
Specific-The objective states exactly what is to be achieved.
Measurable- The objective absolutely has to be capable of measurement, otherwise how will you ever know if the goals you have set forth are being met?
Achievable- The objective has be realistic in accordance with the particular circumstances associated with the setting and the resources available. Do you have enough staff to meet your goals in a timely fashion? Do you have enough 4 X 4 planks to finish the roof of your new gazebo?
Relevant- Your objectives should be relevant to the people responsible for achieving them. Have duties been properly assigned accordingly to skill sets?
Time Bound- Objectives should be set with timeline/deadlines in mind. The deadlines also need to be realistic in accordance with the resources available. This is a vital and essential responsibility of a good project manager-the person cracking the whip on a daily basis to ensure that all parties involved are meeting their timelines with their deliverables. If they are not-for whatever reason-adjustments need to be made to keep the project on track.
Strategy: This is the action path you have chosen to realize your goals. It’s the approach you are going implement to achieve your goal and make it a reality. Strategies can also help to establish much broader themes for any future actions.
Measures: So, you’ve taken the time and resources to create what you feel is a viable, strong, sensible to achieve the goals you have been set forth for you, your business or your clients. Now is when the tricky part comes into play. How do you know if any of it is working according to plan? This is where having measures in place is of the utmost importance. By definition a measure is a quantifiable indicator used to assess how well an organization/business or as in this case a plan is achieving its desired objectives. Are our strategies working to help us achieve a predetermined increase in revenues? Are you on track to meet your objectives? Has my client seen their Google ranking move them into the top 20? Do my 250 guests have enough food and drinks to last them through the next three hours? By having measures in place you are able to assess such things as results, production, demand and operating efficiencies. In addition it gives a more objective sense of how your plan is working and whether improvement and more importantly change is necessary.
Timing: This is often times the part of any good plan that gets-shall we say-gets a bit neglected or overlooked. The timing portion of your plan is without a doubt THE most tactical part of your overall plan. It is a description of when each of the assigned tasks will be completed. One of the best ways to assemble the steps in order is to put them in a calendar form-weekly, monthly or quarterly. The length of the project usually points to which form works best. Make sure that all team members involved can complete the tasks during the time you have designated for their assignments. A great thing about viewing all the assigned tasks in calendar form is that you can quickly see whether you have loaded too many tasks into one time period and need to shift some of them or whether you have assigned too many tasks to one individual and need to reassign tasks. This portion of the plan really helps to keep your entire project on track.
So there you have it-a clear and concise list of components necessary to complete your new project and meet all your goals. Good luck to you!
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