Update 10th Jun 2020

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Being tasked with a project in work and starting your own project in your free time have something in common: they need to follow the same basic pattern if they’re to succeed. Let’s dive right in and take a look at the basics you need to consider if you’re going to get things moving.

Define the Scope

The first thing is to decide what your project will actually set out to accomplish. Whilst this may sound like common sense we’ve all sat through meetings that seem to change their purpose with the tides and get little or nothing done. If you want your project to avoid this kind of aimless drifting then it’s vital that you define your scope straight off the bat.

Take a piece of paper into a quiet room and write down the core aims of your project. What will it do, how will you judge success, and when will you know when it has been completed? Take the time to do this simple little exercise and everything else will fall nicely into place…

Smaller is Better 

Having loads of people onboard is great for your ego, but often what you need is a dedicated core team. This doesn’t mean that you’re going to create a siege mentality where you cut yourself off from the outside world, far from it. If you need expertise in a particular area then don’t be shy about asking for it. But ensure that all the day to day operations are carried out by you and your small core team.

This will increase accountability and focus; two things that are essential if you want to be able to get the ball rolling.

Periodic Reviews Force Progress

Reviewing your progress is essential as it allows you to check that you’re heading in the right direction. Too often these types of exercises can fall by the wayside because they demand that you stop working on your current task and take stock.

A weekly or fortnightly periodic review with your core team at a set time and location is the perfect way to ensure that this all-important task never slips. It’ll just become part of the furniture of the project and will be the ideal forum for you to discuss anything and everything with the people who know the project inside out.

Avoid Mission Creep

Always refer back to the scope of your project so that you and your team are crystal clear on what you’re working to achieve. As projects gather momentum and start to generate results they so often wander off on tangents in a process known as ‘Mission Creep’. If you’re not careful you’ll try and accomplish everything and please everyone under the sun with a project that continuously mutates and expands.

Focus on what you set out to do, achieve it, and then take things from there. Only then will you be able to keep your project headed in the right direction and deliver what you set out to. 

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