Project Management Essentials

Making sure a project comes in on-time, within budget, and within scope can be a challenge. Whether you work in a marketing and advertising agency or you are managing an in-house project, you have to face the fact that your best efforts can be derailed at any time. How can you cut down on risk and save yourself some frustration?

Let’s start by defining a few terms:

Deadlines – Does your project have an absolute date by which it must be completed? Even if doesn’t, setting a deadline will ensure it gets done and is not lost in the ether of “projects that never will be.” Setting and keeping a deadline helps keep all the minute details fresh and you spend less time refreshing your memory.

Budget – Similar to your deadline, does your project have an absolute budget? Have you calculated the hard costs and the value of your labor into the budget? Most importantly, you must take into account the risk associated with the project. Will a delay in the project cost you money in the long-run?

Scope – As you begin a project, there may be other tasks that need to be completed for you to do it well. There may also be items that can be saved for a later date. Define your scope of work, the exact action items needed to complete the project.

Now, what are some of the best ways to see a project through to completion, on time and within budget?

1)Plan out milestones and deadlines
While a final deadline is crucial to projects, that’s just the starting point. After your end-date has been decided, work backwards and schedule out major milestones. When should your research be completed? How long will you need for the approval process at all phases of the project? When will tasks be implemented?

2)Learn to delegate and identify roles
You can’t be an expert at everything. If there is a co-worker that would be an asset to your project, earn their buy-in and ask for their help in completing certain tasks. You’ll sharpen your communication skills through guidance and direction, as well as saving yourself from the headache of being swamped by work.

3)Negotiate on all levels
This includes more than just bringing the price down on materials. You may also need to negotiate with your teammates, or with your scope of work. As new information comes to light, you may need to revise your project and prioritize items. Be aware of what is a deal-breaker and what can be discussed.

4)Track your timeMake sure everyone on your team abides by this as well. Knowing how many hours go in to a project, how much time is taken up by meetings, and what the final hours add up to will help you determine the success of the project and plan for future endeavors. We all know that time can speed by or drag on in an office setting – we recommend using Harvest for accurate and easy time tracking.

The true success of any project lies in the results. After each project is complete, analyze the KPIs and ROI so that when asked, you have tangible, qualitative facts. If your project becomes an ongoing program, be sure to have checkpoints in place to regularly assess and adjust as needed. If you’ve met your goals, take a step back and congratulate yourself! Then take another look and decide if the time and money was really worth the investment.

Each member of the King Media team wears many hats. Whether or not they have “project management” in their job description, everyone has learned how to properly schedule targets, assess risks, and execute projects. Check out a few insider tips from our group!

Coleen – “Hold on tight! Each project and client is as unique as snowflakes and piecrusts, and the methods that helped you for one project might not work with another.”

Laurie – “Take the necessary time to establish effective project management processes. A good process keeps everyone on task and informed.”

Adam – “Estimates are just that – estimates. You never know how much time a task or entire project will take until the final hours are logged. You’d be amazed how much really goes in to it.”

Allison – “My go-to for any project is a checklist. Classic style (pen and paper) keeps my most important tasks top of mind – and at the top of my desk!”

For a sample of our project management prowess, contact King Media by calling our office at 517.248.3333. Let’s move forward together.