If you are going to build a house, you’re going to make sure you have a plan…or at least that your builder does.

While it would be amazing to live in the Barrow (hang in there non-Harry Potter fans!), with endless random editions and turrets magically attached to the roof, unfortunately us Muggles can’t guarantee the roof won’t cave in.

For certainty, safety and peace of mind, a plan is essential.

So, why would you approach any other project without a plan?

But, how do you know your project plan is any good?

Start with:

What are the key goals and how do they translate to milestones?

Consider what you’re trying to achieve, and in what timeframe. How can you break up big goals (building a house) into smaller goals (laying the foundation, bricking, roof, interiors, etc)? By starting with the great big goals, and breaking these down piece by piece, you’ll not only define clear objectives to relay to your project team, you’ll also know when they need to be done, and any dependencies that could impact the overall timeline of the project.

What are the risks as well as their likelihood, impacts and mitigation strategy?

Early risk analysis means that you can remain calm and collected if any of the forecast risks come to pass. It gives any partners confidence that you have all bases covers, and can demonstrate accountabilities to the project team or collaborators.

A simple way to capture these is in a table like this.

Feeling in control and in charge of any adverse scenarios will give you the confidence to kick off the project and stay on track.

What are the processes to maintain communication and keep everyone accountable?

Weekly update emails, cloud-based project management or work tracking tools, daily scrums…all of these are tools to keep your team on track.

Establish processes for feedback to each other, to other stakeholders, collaborators and clients from the very beginning, and be strict in ensuring these are maintained. Communication (or a lack of it) can make or break a project.

So, what questions would you prioritise when starting a project plan?

Do you have any specific project management tools you use?

We use Accelo to track projects and work – if you’re into boosting productivity you might be interested to read how using the platform (along with some other business interventions) helped us increase in our revenue by 50%.

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