Top Tips for Successful Projects in 2021
Updated: Mar 4
2020 wasn’t an easy year for most of us, both personally and professionally. However, everyone has had different experiences within their businesses and of the success of their projects. Whether your business went from strength to strength, or you were facing new and unexpected challenges, we can all learn a few things from this unprecedented year.
We’ve compiled a list of our top tips and advice to help you achieve success in your projects in the year ahead.
Make a plan
Following on from a year full of change and surprises, making set plans can sometimes feel a bit futile. However, when everything else can feel out of your control, outlining your key goals can bring back that important feeling of autonomy.
This might seem like one of the basic tenets of project management, but many projects are let down by insufficient planning and forethought. It’s key that you set out not only what your project should achieve, but how exactly you are going to achieve it. Break down each step into daily, achievable goals. Both ambition and realism are important for your success. Don’t start the year by setting yourself up to fail with unrealistic expectations. This is why the first three steps of our methodology for project success focus heavily on planning your project and assessing the outcomes. Planning now helps minimise surprises in the future.
Honesty is vital in these planning steps. Even being honest with yourself can sometimes be a challenge. What were your weaknesses in 2020? This isn’t an easy question but it’s definitely an important one. We all face difficulties, but the best way to overcome them and strengthen your work is to confront them head on.
Make sure you include review points in your plan. This gives you a chance to take a step back and check your plan is actually working. If it’s not, make changes. Allowing for flexibility will help you adapt and improvise as the year progresses. No one can predict what lies ahead, but a flexible plan provides structure without being too rigid.
Online resources, like Girl’s Guide to PM, can be great for templates as a place to start!
Be kind to yourself
In the world of project management, it can be tempting to focus solely on goals and deadlines. Of course, sticking to your goals and plan is important for success and your continuing motivation. However, this will only become harder if you don’t prioritise your wellbeing.
2020 was a difficult year and 2021 will likely present continuing and entirely new challenges. The workplace has changed like never before and it isn’t always easy to adapt. Taking time to create new routines and restructure your way of working to fit your new lifestyle is key to success.
Being kind to yourself doesn’t just apply to your way of working, but also the goals you set for yourself in the first place. Some will have very high ambitions for the coming year and that might be right for you! But others will be aiming to get back on track and just get going as we move through 2021. This ties into the realistic aims we discussed earlier as part of a good plan. Some years your goals will be simpler than others. Although that might be a tricky reality, it’s important to accept it. Aiming for much higher goals you can’t realistically achieve this time round will only lead to burnout and demotivation.
As the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us physically apart and many are readjusting to working in their own homes, communication has become more vital than ever. Effective communication has always been a key part of being a good leader and project manager, but as we face new barriers it’s important to refocus on your soft skills.
Prioritising communication is not solely the job of the project manager but should be encouraged throughout your team. When you can’t directly keep track of a team member’s progress in person, it can be difficult to identify where your project needs greater attention. Maintaining open channels of communication can alleviate fears your team members might have about problems they’re facing. If you don’t know the hurdles ahead, you’ll struggle to overcome them. Strengthening honesty and trust in your team allows for transparency, greater motivation for every team member and project success.
Be open to change
The aim of every project is to bring about some form of change. It is integral to improvement and future success. With this in mind, it’s surprising the number of project managers who are resistant to change in their own ways of working.
Simply because methods have worked before does not mean this will always be the case – especially following such a tumultuous year. 2021 is the perfect time to review how you work and be open to change.
At Projects that Deliver, we strive to be a positive force for disruption in project management. Through years of experience, we’ve identified key pitfalls many projects face and established new ways of working that build on traditional methodologies. We want to encourage the openness to change that is central to what we do throughout project management.