Do you think it’s easier to start a new project, or to take over a project someone has already started? Sometimes it seems as if the same projects get recycled multiple times until the project is successful. This may be due to several factors, which have already been blogged about. I think that many times individuals are more hesitant to get started with an already failed project and are more open to starting from scratch on a new project. However, I remember a discussion in my MIS500 class where we talked about this same topic in relation to IT implementations, and I remember the professor commenting that if you are asked to take over a project, you are already successful because the project has already failed. I think if I had to choose, I would take on an existing project rather than starting a new project. First, I would welcome the challenge to learn from the previous group what went wrong, and I would aim at small wins to build the trust in the new project team. I say this because sometimes starting a new project is difficult, as is highlighted in the article “The Paralysis of Getting the Project Started”.
This article highlights a few steps that one might find useful in getting a new project started. Even though he doesn’t include this as a separate section, the author points out something that I think is critical in project management. This is the realization that once you get started, it is not realistic to expect that everything will be perfect, or that it will be perfect as you continue through the project. What the author does provide us with are the 3 steps to get a project off the ground:
- Grab a template that has worked well in the past for you or another group, and one that you feel comfortable with. In this step it is important to realize that it will change along the way. In our class we learned about several great tools that we can use, but I think the key here is finding a tool you are comfortable with, which goes back to the small win concept and provides you with immediate confidence, which could be a large struggle that individuals have because they think that for a successful end there needs to be a successful start, but this means that nothing from start to finish is flexible, when in reality a successful project management plan is flexible.
- Realize and explain to the team that it is impossible to know all the information about the project up front, so stick to the basics and move forward. Often times many projects are delayed because the project manager wants to know and plan for every detail but if this is your focus, it is impossible to ever be ready! Again here is an important link to flexibility…
- You may be the project manager, but you need to be willing to let your team help. This may take the form of brainstorming with post its to gather input on the best way to get started, or by taking your initial plan and sending it to them for review. Either way, its important to involve the team early on to ensure you have their buy-in and being an inclusive project manager will go a long way to making the team feel connected and supported, which in turn sprouts ownership and helps to ensure that a project stays on track for success.