The project manager checklist is a specific, straightforward, but highly effective tool that helps managers execute every project. By creating a checklist, project managers define a map of the most important prerequisites every project needs to fulfill to expect successful project completion and achieve the set goal.
Specifically, the checklist outlines the following project components:
- Project vision and goal(s)
- Identification of stakeholders
- Specific project requirements
- Project plan
- Project resource requirements
- Project budget
- Optimal resource allocation and task distribution plan
- Project schedule
- Communication methods
- Analysis of potential resources
- Documentation methods
- Monitoring and tracking methods for project progress
Now, let’s delve into the detailed steps necessary to create and maintain an effective project manager checklist.
#1. Create a Clear Vision & Goal
To better organize and successfully manage projects and assigned tasks, it is important to clarify the purpose of a project, what will be achieved through its implementation, and why it matters.
When you unveil the underlying idea behind the project and make it tangible by defining its vision and goal, it becomes easier to organize and execute the idea.
This can be done using the SMART goals “formula,” which stands for:
- Specific: Clearly define the goal to avoid ambiguity when planning activities for its achievement, such as creating a new product or expanding the target audience. This precision will provide a clear direction for your team and help them understand the exact purpose of their efforts.
- Measurable: Make the goal measurable to track the progress of implementation and ensure adherence to the plan. For instance, reducing or increasing production by 20%. With this quantifiable aspect, you can objectively gauge how close you are to reaching the desired outcome and make necessary adjustments along the way.
- Achievable: Ensure the goals are realistically attainable by consulting with your team, reviewing documented data from similar projects, and considering stakeholders’ input. This step fosters a sense of feasibility and teamwork, making everyone aware that success is within reach.
- Relevant: Make sure the goal is relevant to the project’s realization, meaning its achievement can impact its success and timely completion. This ensures that every effort contributes meaningfully to the project’s goals and doesn’t stray from the core purpose.
- Timeframe: Set a deadline for achieving the goal or break it down into smaller objectives with defined timeframes, which will help to maintain focus and align efforts toward a specific target. Establishing timeframes ensures that work progresses steadily and efficiently, preventing unnecessary delays and keeping everyone motivated toward a set timetable.
#2. Identify Stakeholders
Stakeholders are individuals or entities that significantly influence or are interested in your project. They can be project sponsors, clients, regulatory bodies, and others.
Identifying stakeholders is crucial to establishing the right relationship and involving them appropriately in the project and collaboration. You can consult your team to identify potential stakeholders based on their expertise and knowledge.
Then, maintain open lines of communication with stakeholders throughout the project to address their input and concerns. This approach promotes a more prosperous and harmonious outcome.
Additionally, researching relevant sources and similar projects can broaden your perspective, helping you uncover stakeholders who may not be immediately apparent.
#3. Specify Project Requirements
Precisely determining the requirements on which the project is based is essential to ensure a smooth project execution without delays. This includes defining the scope of work, desired outcomes and deliverables, stakeholders’s requirements, resources, budget and schedule allocation, and other important requirements.
By providing requirements, you are giving the project team members a sense of boundaries within which they can operate. They will simply know the allowed budget and amount of time they have to complete a task or the technical resources they have at their disposal.
This way, they know which direction to go to, and you can be sure that they are aware of the constraints they need to adhere to. With this clarity, you facilitate efficient project management and enhance team accountability, ensuring everyone works in unison towards the project’s success.
#4. Create a Project Plan
Creating a project plan helps project managers understand how to navigate and execute a project and enables tracking its progress. It involves breaking the project into manageable sections, establishing a timeline, and setting goals.
There are five sections of the project to consider:
- Initiation: The initiation section determines the project’s purpose and feasibility and identifies vital stakeholders.
- Planning: During the planning section, the project team develops a detailed project plan outlining tasks, resources, budgets, and timelines.
- Execution: The execution section involves implementing the project plan, with team members carrying out their assigned tasks.
- Monitoring: in the monitoring section, stakeholders closely observe project progress and identify and address any deviations from the plan.
- Closure: The closure section marks the completion of the project, including finalizing deliverables, obtaining approvals, and transitioning the project to its operational phase.
Developing a project plan provides a clear roadmap of activities and allows project managers to prioritize key milestones and focus on essential tasks that indicate progress toward achieving the goal.
If the project deviates from the planned course, such as not meeting the scope within a sprint or missing key project milestones, having a plan and monitoring progress enables them to identify obstacles on time.
This allows timely adjustments, strategy developments, and successful adaptation to changes.
#5. Figure Out Your Resources
Since various inputs are necessary for achieving the desired outcome, it’s important to identify the required resources and their quantities for project completion. Proper resource identification allows for project initiation and prevents interruptions.
Managing identified resources efficiently is crucial to maximizing productivity while minimizing costs. Consider factors like the number and expertise of the human workforce, required tools and materials, and the budget needed for specific purposes.
#6. Create a Project Budget
Every project needs a budget because project execution almost always involves spending a certain amount of money. Therefore, creating a budget is a complex task.
It requires estimating the funds needed for employee salaries, tasks execution, equipment and materials purchases, payment for services from lawyers and consultants, and so on. To do this properly, the project manager should first categorize the direct and indirect costs.
Direct costs are those directly associated with the project, i.e., those we already mentioned. On the other hand, indirect costs impact the project indirectly and include expenses like office space rent, utility bills (electricity, water, gas), insurance payments, etc.
Additionally, allocating a certain amount of money as a reserve for unforeseen circumstances, such as inflation or technological changes that may lead to cost increases, is a common and recommended practice.
To optimize the budgeting process, you can utilize data from previous projects and market conditions and trends, as well as communicate with relevant stakeholders and use budgeting software.
#7. Allocate Resources & Assign Tasks
Here, we’ll explain the significance of project resource management in projects. Resource allocation involves assigning tasks to the team and individuals to work on and ensuring they have enough resources to complete them.
This means determining how many people will work on the project, how many materials and machines are needed for production, what technology is required for developing a new product, and so on.
Therefore, paying attention to task scheduling is important so that no one is overloaded or underloaded. Any mistakes in this step will certainly lead to disruptions in resource allocation and, consequently, in the budget.
#8. Create a Schedule for the Team
The project manager and their collaborators dedicate a significant amount of time to planning the project schedule so they can easily track project progress and be sure that the project is going to meet the client’s time requirements.
To do that, firstly, it is necessary to determine the overall time required for project completion. After that, it is important to identify project milestones, allocate tasks, and select the time needed to complete each milestone. Project managers can use the project schedule-making software to facilitate this process.
In addition to facilitating process monitoring, creating a project schedule helps employees orient themselves and direct their work and energy more effectively.
#9. Choose a Communication Method
Assigning tasks, submitting reports, updating the team on important news, and conducting daily meetings involve team communication. To ensure efficient communication within the organization, you need to decide which communication apps to use alongside email correspondence and phone calls.
Presenting a clear communication protocol at the beginning of each project enhances team collaboration, transparency, and efficiency.
For example, using a certain app, like Trello, Asana, or ConnectTeam, will help the employee effortlessly connect with colleagues or project managers, eliminating the need to consider alternative communication methods.
#10. Assess the Potential Risks
The ideal scenario is when you are 100% sure that no obstacles are standing in the way of the project goal, but that is often not the case. Every project carries certain risks regarding each aspect we have discussed so far.
However, an adequate approach will help you to be prepared and respond if risky situations arise. In that case, creating a risk management plan is of great importance.
The risk management plan should include the following:
- The identification of potential risks
- The likelihood of each risk scenario occurring
- A prepared plan on how to respond to and overcome those risks
When creating the plan, you could benefit from consulting with team members and others who have had experience with similar projects.
#11. Document Everything
It is important to document every relevant step and action taken from the beginning to the completion of your project, whether in paper or electronic format.
Documentation is essential because it eases your work for future projects. Instead of starting from scratch, you can customize templates to fit the specific project you’re working on.
Furthermore, recording and documenting activities enables knowledge transfer as a valuable database. It serves as a basis for information exchange and communication, reducing uncertainties and misunderstandings.
It also reduces the risk of future errors by documenting all identified risks on the path to project completion and the strategies applied to mitigate them, enabling proactive project management.
However, keep in mind to organize and store the data properly. For example, create folders for business plans, project charters, meetings, risks, and strategies for their resolution to facilitate future searches.
#12. Monitor & Track Project Progress
The key to making progress lies in recording and monitoring how your plan unfolds and identifying any signs of improvement or delays. It’s important to approach the monitoring and oversight of the work process with a clear intent and focus on achieving project objectives and maintaining efficiency.
To effectively monitor progress, establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide insights into the specific processes. Utilize KPIs to assess whether you are aligning with your planned goals.
These indicators can include metrics such as the quantity of goods procured, material usage, budget utilization, completion of activities, and customer satisfaction.
Analyzing these indicators helps measure the success of your organization’s operations. Also, using tools like time-tracking software enables you to monitor deadlines, track activity durations, and stay on top of key milestones.
Therefore, strive to continually improve your monitoring and tracking approach to keep your project on track for successful completion.
In conclusion, ensure a smoother journey from project ideation to realization by creating a “reminder” or roadmap to guide you toward success. While having a great idea, available resources, time, and supportive stakeholders provide the initial momentum to start a project, it is essential to nurture and actively work on its execution continuously.
Take a comprehensive approach, carefully considering every aspect, from planned activities to those already completed. Keep your project manager checklist handy as a compass to stay on track and avoid losing your way to project completion.
With dedication and a well-structured approach, you can navigate the project landscape confidently and bring your ideas to fruition!