Here at eXPD8 Analytics we are often faced with large projects. Tackling these projects can at first seem daunting but with the right outlook, good planning and using our guide to tackling large projects, you will understand how we deliver excellence the first time, every time.
The start of every successful project is good definition of goals and an understanding of what you want you to deliver. Knowing these comes from a statement of work which is a great tool for project management and a key to success when undertaking lengthy tasks. Don’t start cracking on with an Excel sheet before you know what you want to achieve. We can call this planning step 1: Understanding what you want to deliver. Once you have this, you can begin to plan the actual project.
Using a task tracking or project tracking template is an effective way to set out what needs to be done. Creating one of these is easy, we have an example one below. This kind of planning sets you up to know exactly how you are doing and gives you a good measure of if you are on track to meet your deadline. Stick to this and it will save you valuable time towards the end of your project. Just because you make one of these at the start of the project does not mean you cannot add to it. Any new bright ideas can easily be slotted into the plan. Breaking down the large project into smaller manageable goals is a perfect way to feel good about your work. A few big green ticks next to your tasks will help you realise how far you have come.
Use start and end dates as well as priority levels. Is it high priority? Will it take a long time? How valuable will this be for my client? These are the kind of questions you need to be asking yourself when setting out the plan for the project. You really need to know the value of what you are doing before setting out and spending an entire day working on a feature that is little to no use for anything. Everyone likes a nice-looking dashboard but does it work? This kind of thing comes down to prioritising. One key thing people forget when setting out their task tracker is to think about dependencies. Just because a task is a lower priority than another does not mean it can be done first as certain tasks depend on another. By knowing what your dependant tasks are and how each of your tasks is inherently linked to the other, your project will start to come to life with ease. Understanding the relationship between your tasks significance, dependency and complexity will be the key ingredients you need to map a timeline and successfully undertake your project.
Share! Your plan is ready to be implemented. See what the people around you can come up with. Team contributions are an essential way of making our large projects successful. There could be something you have not thought of or something someone else will be able to do that you can’t. Is anything unrealistic or have you missed a vital step? Sharing your plan with people can prove invaluable.
Now your project is well underway and you are hitting your targets. Remember to test what you are doing. Put yourself in the shoes of the user and try your best to break what you have done. Break what you have done?! By breaking your file and exposing weaknesses in your project, it will allow you to fix them and prevent them happening again in the hands of the user. Make this testing stage a top priority. No client wants to start using their new report or dashboard and have it crash on them. Take pride in making a fool proof piece of work. Asking other people to use it is another way to test if it works. This kind of attention to detail proves to your clients that you are the right person for the job and you will develop your own skills as a result. Getting feedback on your project and reviewing what went well and what you could have done better will be key to your learning and as you develop your project management skills tackling a big project won’t seem as daunting as it once did.
Senior Data Analyst