Part I – Know Your Project End-Date
The two key elements of success when completing a project are:
- to know your project end-date, and
- to know what you will measure in 6 months to determine whether this project was a success.
If you ever look at a project and you cannot clearly explain either of those two points – your project will be a disappointment. If you have these two critical factors, your plan may not unroll as you expected, but you will be close to success. These anchors will help you calibrate your work to your targets.
Know Your Project End-Date
We have the hardest time being honest about this data point. People will often give themselves a target end-date but have no urgency to hold themselves to it. When choosing your project end-date, you have to commit to completing by that time, no matter what happens. If you allow yourself to think for a moment that you can let this date slide you will miss-plan. If the target date doesn’t matter, then you won’t bother planning the people or money that you need to get it done. It won’t matter, because you will have more time after the end-date. If your end-date is set in stone, you don’t have to manage the other priorities that come in. If your end-date isn’t fixed, your estimates will be off.
If you had an urgent matter that was the difference between safety and danger for your children, you would be on time. If your project were a matter of having a job next week or not, you would get it done.
I don’t think that you should lose your job if you miss a deadline. But since in most of the projects you do you get to set your own timetable, you need to plan properly so that you don’t go over your timeline. Plan for the unexpected. Know what time and money you will need. If you give a target date, even if it is three months from now, and you hit it, you will be a hero. If you give a target date of next month and deliver three months from now – you have failed on your project.
Never forget to start with your two key elements: a project end-date, and a target measurement after six months. With these two anchors, everything else will fall into place.
See Part II of this blog article as we talk about target measurements.