The ability to stay organized over the course of the project is key says Julie Perrine
Many assistants balk when they hear the term “project management.” Being asked to take on a large project can seem overwhelming, especially if it’s something that falls outside your typical job description. But all project management really entails is breaking the big, complex goal into smaller, more manageable chunks. For this, organization is key.
Create Your Action Plan
To create your plan of action and get things organized at the outset of any project, you need to answer these questions:
- What are the end goals of the project?
- When is it due? Are there any built-in “checkpoints” or internal deadlines that need to be met?
- Who is the lead on the project? Who is responsible for key decisions? Who should you contact if you’re unsure of something?
- What tasks need to be completed to achieve the end goal?
- Who should be involved? (Include members of different departments or outside support staff – for instance, remote team members or IT staff.)
- What resources will you require? Is there a set budget for the project? What office supplies are necessary for you and other members of the team to get the job done?
Now, you can begin to work backwards and create your custom plan of action. Develop a realistic timeline and communicate it to everyone involved with the project. This will keep you and your team accountable to each other and constantly moving forward toward your goal.
Create Systems for Staying Organized
What tools do you need for organization, and which do you already have at your disposal? Are there forms, templates, or checklists that you can recycle from previous projects? Will you be using dedicated project management software?
You also need to create a system to manage your time. Use time-tracking software or manually track your time each day to ensure you stay on schedule. If you stray from the schedule, make sure you “build in” time to catch up as soon as possible.
Organize your desk, paper files, digital files, and email inbox so everything is consistent. Your paper folders should mirror your digital folders so you can easily find what you need when you need it in any format.
Tips for Better Project Management
Keep the lines of communication open. All too often, admins tend to have an “I’ll do it myself” mentality. Regular status checks and meetings improve collaborative efforts and allow everyone to benefit from the experience.
Choose milestones to celebrate, and build them into your action plan. When you have something to look forward to, it makes the work more enjoyable.
Look for ways to improve. If you hit a roadblock, document it, as well as how you overcame it. This will create a resource for the next time you experience a particular hurdle.
Find a mentor. If this is your first time managing a large project, a mentor can help you better understand the process. Even admins who have managed projects for years can benefit from a helping hand or someone to keep them accountable.
Expect the unexpected. Nothing goes smoothly all the time. If your system breaks down, treat it as a learning experience, fix it, and move on!
The term “project management” can instill fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned assistant – but when you utilize systems, stay organized, and develop a solid action plan, you’re sure to succeed!