How To Get Buy-In On Your Project Plan
This means good negotiation is a necessary part of a successful project plan. You’ll need to do a few things before you even start your plan.
Fulfillment. Teammates need to be heard. Like it or not, emotions play a powerful role in successful projects. Teammates are willing to move heaven and earth for you when they know you have their back completely.
Ownership. When teammates contribute their ideas to the project plan, everyone has ownership. Teammates should be responsible for their own parts and advocate for themselves. This will decrease your stress level and workload.
Harmonization. Developers may not agree with marketing or management. Their desires may create a conflict. Some of those desires may be mutually exclusive. Great project managers work with all sides to create harmony and minimize resistance.
Support. Good project plans outline what support looks like. When problems appear (and they always do), everyone should know who and when to approach for help. This will promote a culture of openness. No one will feel the need to hide or cover up their mistakes.
Adapatability. Experienced project managers know change is an inevitable part of project management. Things never seem to go the way we planned. The best project plans flow, accepting the changes reality brings as they come. Project plans give teammates the tools they need to go with the flow.
An open conversation with teammates gives you the ability to lay the foundation. That foundation gives you what you need to create an amazing project plan.
Amazing project plans write themselves.
Effective plans answer important questions, giving us the peace of mind to focus on the work. Here are the questions that need to answer.
What’s our goal?
What’s our budget?
How do we complete this project?
When will it be finished?
What happens if we have to change something?
How do we change something?
What happens if teammates aren’t available?
How do we track our progress?
These questions will help you understand the schedule, scope, budget and project requirements. And you will know who is responsible for what. The details will emerge from collaboration. You’re not imposing or forcing your will on teammates.
But…there’s a problem.
Good projects fail when (A) expectations are generic, (B) when timelines are horizontal (and slow), and (C) accountability and ownership is centralized. Amazing project plans outperform good or even great project plans because they do a few things differently.
What are the characteristics of a good project plan?
Good project plans focus on results. Good project plans rely on generic expectations like “increase content production.” Amazing project plans are results oriented and specific: “Increase content from 40 articles per day to 80 per day, within 6 weeks.”
Good project plans are vertical not horizontal. The timeline in many project plans tends to be horizontal. First A, then B, then finally C. Amazing project plans rely on a vertical timeline, that is, horizontal tasks done in tandem. You guys work on A + B + C While we work on D + E + F simultaneously.
Good project plans are dramatically faster. The longer a project drags on the more fatigue becomes a problem. Performance becomes an issue as fatigue, exhaustion, and loss of motivation sets in.
Good project plans make people accountable. Project teams are responsible for on-time/in-budget delivery. Managers and executives are responsible for the success of the project. This puts the team at odds with each other. There’s a better way.
It’s Time To Write the Project Plan
Take the details from requirements documents, conversations and meetings and put them into a project. Your project plan will cover these following categories:
Goals. List the purpose for your project, expected outcomes, a high level view of how you’ll achieve your goals, and more. Include feedback from each team on how they’ll achieve the results.
Scope. It’s a mistake to rely on an informal, poorly defined scope. Inexperienced teams fight against scope creep. Seasoned pros know scope creep is inevitable. Your project plan should outline what’s in and out of scope and how you’ll handle items out of scope. Again buy-in is key. Chaos is a likely problem when everyone comes up with their own response to scope creep.
To-dos/work packages. Group related tasks or to-dos together. Give people a high level view of the work that needs to be done. Make your project plan results focused and centered on outcomes.
Interdependence. List the instances where work packages, to-dos, or projects as a whole are dependent on other teams, events, outcomes or items.
Scheduling. Create a project schedule that lists the products, resources, efforts and costs and time scales for each project. Your schedule baseline (ideal) and project schedule (reality) shouldn’t create conflicts.
Vertical milestones. Outline concurrent and non-concurrent events that signal the change or transition in a project. Build your milestones using the feedback you’ve received from teammates, stakeholders and managers.
Deliverables. List the tangible outcome that’s produced by the project and defined in your project brief. Outline when and how deliverables will be presented and who is ultimately responsible for delivery.
Evaluation. Outline key checkpoints where performance, deliverables, quality and results are analyzed or evaluated. Outline the metrics and key performance indicators that will be used to measure the overall outcome.
Budgets. Starting with a budget derails your project almost immediately. Rather than determining the goals and outcomes for a project, executives often shoehorn a disproportionate amount of work into a tiny budget, which can doom the project.
Treat your project plan like a living breathing object. That means relinquishing control. Give your teammates the freedom and permission to say “No.”
Experienced project managers see these stages in attitudes:
Enthusiasm,Disillusionment, Panic and hysteria, Hunt for the guilty, Punishment of the innocent, and Reward for the uninvolved.