KICKING OFF A NEW PROJECT? DO THIS FIRST

It’s always exciting—as well as hectic—when a new project receives the green light. Last-minute discussions are often held with stakeholders to finalize the details, and as the organization turns its attention to making the project official (usually in the form of assigning capital budget numbers and similar internal machinations) there’s often a lag between when your project management team knows the project is a go and when you can actually begin working on it in earnest.

Rather than waiting for all this to happen before your team turns its attention to the new project, there are things the PMO can do right now to increase efficiency and ensure success.

new projects

Set up a master project file. Establishing a full-fledged project folder—in a file cabinet, on the PMO’s intranet, etc.—is a crucial piece of infrastructure for projects large and small, but teams often hold off on this step until the project is “real.” That’s a big mistake. Yes, the executive team could still kill an early-stage project because of funding or other concerns, but it’s far easier to delete the project in your team’s internal systems than it is to play catch-up once the project is in full swing. Begin populating the file with the relevant information and the team will be one more step ahead.

Alert outside partners. Unless this project is on the super-secret hush-hush list, there’s little reason to keep vendors in the dark. You don’t need to reveal every last detail, but notifying them of an upcoming need will help everyone in the long run. Your partners will be able to begin earmarking resources to be sure they’re available, and you’ll have a much better chance of getting exactly the supplies and support you need. If the project has components that are new or uncommon to the PMO, this is a good opportunity to seek out and evaluate new vendors.

Look at staffing levels. Though some of the finer details of the project may still be in the works, even a rough idea regarding the type or amount of people resources you’re likely to need is a help (and hopefully something you’ve already estimated as part of the project’s planning phase). Whether you need to recruit a new team member or hire a consultant, both often require some lead time. Don’t put the PMO in a bind later—immediately begin gauging your needs and work with HR or an external consultancy to fill those gaps as quickly as possible.

Seek out opportunities for savings. Now is the time to consider what impact existing projects will feel once things get underway and how you can make the best of it. If there’s a potential to combine your team’s purchasing power or to consolidate tasks across multiple projects, start putting together preliminary plans right away. Work with your organization’s purchasing group to determine where deeper discounting on materials may be available. Contact the legal team to see if it’s possible to simply expand or extend existing contracts for labor resources and supplies. The time you save later will be well worth the effort.

Get people excited. As soon as the new project is official enough to be announced, do it. Let stakeholders and everyone else likely to be affected by the project know that efforts will begin soon and offer them with as much information as you can on details such as scope, timing, achievables, etc. Assure them that you’ll be providing regular updates as the project moves forward, and give them the name and contact information of the person who can answer any questions they may have.

Project Management Training Tips provided by PMAlliance Inc.