By Generation Next Steering Committee Member Cody Bunyard
Fleet engineer, ServiceMaster
Published in the January 2015 issue of Generation Next Edition.
When taking a project from an idea to reality, there are two critical
stages: building a plan and acting on the plan. Creating a
comprehensive plan or charter before taking action is the best way to simplify
the action phase and keep the project team on track. This method works for any
job and a great example is a football coach – who creates a game plan prior to
kickoff and follows up throughout the game to ensure a win. Similar steps take a
project goal and turn it into a win for the company.
Similar to a
football game plan, a detailed project plan enables a company to achieve
positive results. A plan identifies what must be accomplished to achieve overall
success and meet the desired goals. As long as the team creates a strategic plan
and works together, achieving success should be as simple as following the
The plan includes a detailed description for
each aspect of the project. It should include team members, the problem
statement, project scope, goals, success indicators, risks and assumptions, a
strategic communications plan, and critical milestones with the expected
completion timeline. Specific things to avoid are listed as outside the project
scope. All goals should be measureable and time-bound. Discuss risks ahead of
time and address the severity and likelihood of risks occurring. A football
coach builds alternate approaches into his plan in the event his plays don’t
work well. It’s important to build contingencies into any project plan for high
Taking the time to create a detailed project
plan is always beneficial because it acts as a complete road map for the action
stage of the project, just like a game plan in football. It also gives everyone
a reference document to check and ensure everything continues to move in the
right direction within the expected timeline.
Prior to creating the charter, it’s important
to speak with the key stakeholders who are impacted by the project outcome. This
allows the team to build stakeholder expectations into the plan, increasing the
chance of a successful project. After goals and deadlines are identified, make
sure every party involved agrees on the time and resource commitment needed to
complete the project.
Once the project description is confirmed with
key stakeholders, it’s time to complete the project charter. A standard template
can often be used to create a professional project charter. If
needed, there are several downloadable templates available online that outline
everything needed to create a project charter.
Another important part of the action phase is
communication. This area relates to the action phase of football – playing the
game. The team and coaches must communicate to ensure the game plan is followed
and that no unforeseen risks occur. A project kickoff meeting should act as the
first step moving the project into action. This meeting allows everyone to
familiarize themselves with the project description, goals, timeline, etc., in
great detail to ensure success of the plan. Make sure everyone understands their
role within the project and the time commitment, just like a football player has
to know his role within a game plan. The kickoff meeting should be interactive
and include open discussion and ideas. A football coach always
relies on his coaching staff to help develop a plan of attack against the
opposing team and the same approach should be taken when determining the best
way to achieve a goal.
The charter should be written so that it
provides everything the team needs to complete the project. Everyone can then
follow the deliverables timeline and know the next steps throughout the project.
Promote consistent two-way communication so the team can continue reaching
milestones and overcoming any hurdles that may arise. Host a weekly meeting or
call to allow time for reviews and updates and keep the project on track. For
important milestones, communicate directly with stakeholders to keep them aware
Ask the team for
feedback throughout the project – you may find new ideas that can benefit the
project and company. After all project goals are reached, consider
the project complete. Update all stakeholders of the team’s accomplishments
throughout the project and be sure to thank everyone for their time and
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