1. Planning List. When beginning a new project, make a list of all departments within your organization and what you may need from them. This will give you a step-by-step checklist of how to begin nailing down the specifics of your project plan.
2. Know Your Enemies. Prepare a list of the possible risks to the successful completion of the project plan. Have a meeting and get input from others on what potential risks might be. Risks are the enemy, so know them and keep them close.
3. Documentation. Document all aspects of a requested change to a project plan (no matter how small), including who is requesting the change and where it falls as a priority. If it changes other priorities, write a detailed explanation of the change itself, and note who is authorizing the change. This not only gives you a clear picture of what you will need to do next, it serves as personal protection in the case of any miscommunication among others in the organization.
4. Priorities Change. This is a fact and a course of life. Yes, it makes project planning more difficult, but an effective project manager will let changes roll off their back and re-prioritize.
5. Stay in the Loop. Project managers need to make themselves known to all of the departments involved in their project. If a department loses an employee, this may affect the project timeline, so it's important to be in the loop for any changes. Request that you be added to relevant departmental e-mail groups. The sooner you get information, the sooner you can revise your plan.
6. Urgency and Momentum. Convey a sense of urgency during the course of a project in order to keep the momentum going. Once you let your guard down, those around you who you need to help you meet your milestones may start to feel relaxed too. As the project manager, communicating an impending deadline in a productive manner is your key to keeping staff motivated.
7. Give Away the Keys. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Giving ownership to others on the team keeps them close and involved in the project, and they realize that the success or failure of the project is tied directly to them.
8. Training. Keep in mind any training that may be necessary for people on your team. This training time will need to be included in any timetable you create, as training can happen before and during a project life cycle.
9. Revisions. Your project plan will most likely go through many revisions. When communicating with others, make sure you are all referring to and working from the most current revision.
10. Audience. When communicating your project progress, keep in mind which audience you are addressing. Your supervisor may have different priorities than the client, so try and stay specific. Spending too much time talking about an area not directly related to your audience may give the impression that their aspect of the project is not being given the proper attention.
For more information about SmartDraw, which offers hundreds of project management templates that users can modify to quickly create the graphic they need. For more information, visit http://www.smartdraw.com.