7 Easy Steps to Keep Your Projects on Track and on Time

There’s an old saying that goes: “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. That may still be true for the mice. But we humans have learned a few tactics that keep our ventures on the straight and narrow. We call them Project Management skills, and they are more easily mastered than you may think. Run a project like the ultimate pro with Project Management strategies that keep you on track and on time. Here’s how.

1. Think Through the What Ifs

Before you even begin your project, consider all the potential pitfalls that could occur and strategize ways to minimize that risk. Ask yourself – What if the machines go down? What if the materials don’t arrive? What if you go over budget? Who will backfill your staff if someone becomes unavailable? Identify the scenarios and create an action plan to overcome those obstacles should they arise.

2. Scope Out the Project

The best way to gauge your progress during a project is to scope it thoroughly out before you begin. Assign one person with the job of building out a timeline that includes:

  • Objective: State the clear goal of the project
  • Tasks: List the exact steps and how long each will take
  • Materials: Note what you need and how long will it take to acquire each item
  • Stakeholders: Who will work on each task within the project? Consider both internal and external stakeholders as well as leadership sign-off (especially if it can be challenging to find time on that person’s schedule).
  • Sequence: Put each task on the list in chronological order. Determine how long each item will take to complete and then (psst! Here comes a BIG pro tip…) add an additional 30% to that time to accommodate for the unexpected.

3. Assign a Project Manager

Now that you have tasks and timeframes mapped out, assign a Project Manager to provide oversight. This person doesn’t need to be the same team member who scoped out the project. And it most definitely should NOT be someone responsible for the execution of the tasks. Chose someone who can provide an objective eye on the project, hold team members accountable, and offer meaningful support when issues arise.

4. Set Up a Meeting Rhythm

Review the project’s status on an ongoing basis to ensure the team is on track to achieve their goal. This can be once a day or once a week and last for 5 minutes or 5 hours – whatever makes sense for the project. Defining success on a recurring cadence rather than waiting until the end of the project narrows your team’s focus to the tasks at hand and catches small problems before they grow bigger.

5. Ask the Right Questions

During these scheduled check-ins, the Project Manager should review the task list and ask:

  • What was the most recently completed step in the project?
  • What is the very next step that needs to happen?

Again, narrowing the focus to the tasks at hand will create clarity of purpose for your team. Discuss challenges they faced in completing the last task or those that may arise for the next one. Work together to clear those obstacles. Also, highlight successes the team has achieved thus far and lean into those winning strategies in the future.

6. Identify Patterns and Act On Them

As these meetings progress certain patterns may arise. Perhaps you’ll notice a certain supplier always takes longer than promised to deliver. Or that a team member consistently delivers their work ahead of schedule. Learn from those patterns and anticipate them in the future. Then amend your project timeline to account for those challenges or successes.

7. Manage it all with SOLIDWORKS Manage

Want to make sure your project is running the best it can? SOLIDWORKS Manage offers a failsafe way to update progress and communicate results. SOLIDWORKS Manage turns your task list into an audit trail complete with dependences, checks and balances, and automatically updated timelines and notifications to let the right team members know that the next phase of a project can begin. Even the busiest stakeholders can quickly review a project’s status using Manage’s Dashboard, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Scoping out the project in advance and establishing regular checkpoints as you proceed will save time and energy in the long run. Stop letting your efforts go awry and start managing your project like a pro. If you’re ready to level up your Project Management strategies contact DesignPoint to learn more about SOLIDWORKS Manage today.