"Just keep moving forward."
I used to tell myself this as I would see my team drowning in a messy project management system.
I kept thinking.
"What can I do to make this more simple."
We began to joke as a team and name the different versions of our attempt at making things more results driven for everyone.
It was a nightmare, to be honest.
I kept seeing ads for Monday.com (we don't use Monday) where they give you that ultimate satisfaction:
"This is an ad for a project management tool called Monday."
"This is what it feels like to use Monday."
I would hate seeing this ad.
I kept thinking, is it the platform?
Do I need to leave this tool that I am using and go to a tool that does relatively the same thing?
We were using Asana at the time, and now I am happy to share we've found a winning solution for our team with Hubspot.
We do our best to keep everything under one roof.
Now, this isn't a blog about the tools we use, or what our experience has been as we've explored nearly every option available.
No one said you had to have all the answers when starting a start-up.
This is a blog about how to start with project management for yourself, your team, or your business.
Project management is a system that ensures project success and understanding of how to get things done. It is about ensuring that everyone involved in a project understands what they are doing, how they are doing it, and when they are getting it done by.
Successful projects don't just happen.
Few key elements helped our team at Gray Group International find a project management system that really helped us thrive and use a more effective results-driven approach to project management for our projects and the hundreds of projects we've delivered for our clients.
By taking the time to understand and brainstorm the projects you want to accomplish, you can clearly establish your objective and understand the goals and desired outcomes.
The more you understand what you are doing and what you want to accomplish the easier it can be to establish roles and help make sure that the necessary steps are made to reach the finish line.
I personally find it really important to establish clear milestones and allow yourself to be adaptable and flexible in how you deal with ambiguity that arises while completing the projects.
Most importantly, in our team, one thing that really helps is celebrating the small wins through the journey. We really do take time to recognize the hard work and efforts of our incredibly talented team.
Regardless of the platform that you find that works best for you, here are the 5 steps that I believe every company, team, and an individual should consider when wanting to plan an effective project management strategy and execute on complex projects with ease:
This is the most crucial step and the step that most people, businesses, and teams take for granted.
I often refer to failing to take the time to understand and execute this step as making a false start.
Sometimes, false starts seem unpreventable; however, they can often lead you to trouble.
Let's not be Jake Paul, Circa 2018. Japanese Forest Incident.
There are consequences for jumping into something without fulling thinking things through.
A few things that really help with this is setting up systems and checkpoints that help you ensure safety checks to make sure that every project you deliver is impeccable.
At Gray Group International, we have deliberate processes for brainstorming (we take this very seriously) and feedback (we take this even more seriously).
I recommend that you find a system to help you make sure that regardless of the project you have a template and framework to define what success will look like from the specific project and how you will plan to achieve it.
Do your best to outline a list of tasks that must be done, in order of priority, to get to the finish line.
It may be difficult to sit down and think about step by step and write it down, however, if you do, you can ensure that you don't skip or miss any critical steps to accomplishing what you want to achieve.
"Failure to plan is planning to fail."
The more clearly you can lay out a path for you or your team to reach success, the easier it will be for everyone in the end.
If you're anything like me, you may overcomplicate things unintentionally.
You may not realize it, but there is incredible power in "simple."
After you've defined your plan, take a step away, and come back and look at your project with a new set of fresh eyes.
Make purposeful intent to see if you can make your approach and entire project more simple.
One of the biggest lessons that I've learned not only in project management but in business is to: KEEP THINGS SIMPLE.
As one of the safety checkpoints that you lay out for your project management success, consider taking the deliberate step of simplifying.
A great way to do this is by having a team of experts from an outside agency helping you as advisors.
It's always nice to have a fresh set of eyes look at your projects.
You must trust these people to share your vision for growth and if they do, getting their insight on your approach may help you uncover things that you may be missing that may be crucial to your success.
Once everything has been clearly defined, and it's clear to everyone on your team on who's doing what, when and how, it's now time to take action.
It's vital that you know what it is that helps you focus.
For me, often silence is the key ingredient to help me produce the best results.
Occasionally I may play some instrumental music that I can find a nice flow in.
It's essential that you set aside the necessary time that you need to get things done.
I don't love the saying: "Things take time."
I prefer to think that things take a lot of action, effort, and intention.
Simply put, "You gotta sweat."
It's one thing to blame time for everything, and it's another thing to take radical responsibility towards taking action towards the results you want to achieve.
A key ingredient to project management is making sure that a plan of action is clearly outlined and accountability towards focus is a priority.
Get feedback from everyone.
I personally find that many perspectives are often better than 1.
Still, follow your instinct, but understand your audience.
Have you ever worked with a team that is not in alignment with your goals?
Have you ever worked with a team that felt like magic was happening?
I know we've all been on both sides of the spectrum.
What makes the difference?
One of the critical elements that I think make a huge difference in project management is making feedback a priority throughout the entire process with anyone involved.
Sometimes, people think of feedback as a negative thing.
Quite the opposite.
I like to think that all feedback has the intention of being for growth.
If you allow it to be.
If someone cares enough about making a project happen, they will know that speaking up and giving clear, specific feedback for growth is essential to any organizational success.
Feedback includes, celebrating successes, clarifying defined plans, aligning expectations, and any critical conversation that helps things improve.
Depending on the situation, you may be lucky enough to get feedback from both internal members like your team, associates, and support personnel and external members such as your customers and the community.
Find ways to hear what people want and what they need.
It will make it easier to get things done with people.
Take the time to ask for feedback and listen to it.
I love that popular cooking show, "Chef's Table" on Netflix.
It beautifully illustrates the craftsmanship and dedication to excellence that chefs have toward their food.
As I watch the beautiful food display on the screen, I can almost taste the sensory explosions in my mouth.
"Be unforgettable." - Oprah.
Remarkable people are unforgettable.
After you've put in an incredible amount of effort in planning and executing a project, it's important that you take the time to understand how you will deliver your remarkable work.
If you are working with customers B2B or B2C; ask yourself: What can you do to make them say "WOW" when they see the outcome of your work?
What can you do to help your customers feel an experience unlike any other regarding the work that you do?
These are the fascinating questions many of us ask and strive to understand.
When you are crossing the finish line on a project, do so like a Samurai Warrior.
With precision and mastery.
With so many different options for project management tools, you must really ask yourself what it is that you hope to accomplish.
Project management is not about tools that you use, instead, how you use the available resources to maximize your output toward the desired outcome.
It's important that you understand why you want to accomplish something so that you have the desire to take the necessary steps to execute with precision and mastery.
By doing this, you can separate yourself and your business with a workflow that helps you rise above the rest of your competition with ease.
Many businesses don't know where to start.
They look for project management tools to help give them the answers to how to fill the gaps, yet they continue to miss key elements that are preventing them from growing better.
At Gray Group International, we help businesses align their sales, marketing, and service strategies to grow better.
Our team is passionate about helping businesses of all sizes share a more powerful brand message and execute on the things that bring the most results more efficiently.
We have found a lot of success in helping our business partners thrive, and we are confident that we can do the same for your company.
If you need help understanding how your business is currently doing, and understanding the gap that is keeping you from where you want to be, click here.
Let's talk about your growth goals.
There is no obligation, and we merely want to share our knowledge with other businesses so that we may help them benefit from the tremendous digital landscape that we all get to be a part of today.