Shiny and new

Picture the scene – you’ve just picked up a shiny new project.  No work has been done on it yet and it’s yours to nurture and bring to life.  Excited?  Or now in panic mode?

Here’s my birds-eye view of the first 4 weeks of managing a new project.

Week 0

  • Before you get there go back over your client and/or interview notes (tell me you made some!) Who are the main people, can you get to see them in the first week? Is there an induction day planned?
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before. First days are long and hard – no one likes a yawner!

Week 1

  • Now’s the time to organise those meetings with the key people. Don’t forget your team as well.  Try to see everyone associated with your project in week 1.  Week 2 is fine if they’re not available
  • Get the tech working. Email addresses, wifi, delivery of kit if you’re not using your own
  • Ask for all the data and documentation you can find on your project. And look at the intranet (if there is one) for more information on the Company
  • Arrange time with the Sponsor to understand why they are backing this work and who they want on it. Agree the date of the first Steering Committee meeting at that session
  • Slip in a quick meet and greet with your project team (if formed)

Week 2

  • Set up your weekly project meetings
  • Set up budget file and agree budget
  • Start populating your RAID log – especially assumptions and risks. Always use some assumptions and risks gleaned from your past experience in projects of this type.  They’re good as an icebreaker
  • You should know a delivery date by now so draw up your Level 0 (Highest level) project plan and share it with your Sponsor and key stakeholders

Week 3

  • First major project meeting. Even if there is only you put that time aside and work on your plan during it.  I’ve found, from personal experience, that the earlier you dedicate yourself to that weekly session the easier you’ll find keeping to it
  • Start working on the lower levels of your project plan. The minutiae to which you go will largely depend on client requirement and team experience.  Self-starters can have fewer tasks (ie more summary than detail) but don’t be afraid to dive into the detail where required

Week 4

  • Hold your risk workshop. This can be repeated but it’s best to hold one early on
  • Discuss the plans with your team and ask for input and detail. Hopefully they are the ones with the knowledge and experience so they should do most of this hard work themselves if they are to own their tasks
  • Make sure you have an update meeting with your Sponsor. Check progress to date: do they like what you are doing, for example? Do youike what you are doing?

There are many more tasks that will be done during this first period but by getting a framework in place really early and therefore creating a habit, the first four weeks should end with you knowing more then when you started and feeling confident in a successful delivery.

Happy managing!