When working on a big project, it’s easy to look at it and think “there’s just no way I can do that”. But a big project becomes a lot more manageable if you break it down into smaller pieces – you just have to know how to divide it up.
Before you dive into breaking up your project and making a plan, you need to figure out exactly what needs to be done and when the project needs to be done by. This may be very easy if your client has a clear idea of what they want and a solid deadline, but they may be more flexible and want you to fill in the blanks, it which case this might take a bit longer.
Either during or after figuring out your full goal and deadline, break the job down into exactly what needs to be done. Break the job into small pieces. Don’t worry about the order yet, just make sure you have a list of all the tasks involved. Also make sure to put next to each tasks who needs to be involved and what tools and equipment will be needed to complete it.
The next step is to organize all the pieces into an order. You can do this based on several criteria including:
* Client needs. No matter what your preferences, to run a successful business, you need to put the client first. If your client needs certain parts by certain dates, then that’s going to be the first determinant of your schedule. Once that is decided, you can fill in the other blanks from there.
* Chronological considerations. While certain parts of projects can be done in any order, some activities require other portions to be done before they can be finished, or sometimes even started. Once you are done organizing things by firm deadlines, they can be ordered in this way.
* Availability of people and tools. Generally, you’re going to need certain employees, outside contractors, specific equipment, and other items. These are likely going to be different for each part of the project. Organize your timeline based on who is needed for each part. For example, if you need a certain contractor for several steps, it’s easier to do those steps one after the other instead of spreading them apart. And if a person is working on a part of the project that will take up all their time, they obviously can’t work on another project at the same time.
Once you have a general order set up, you’re ready to set up a more specific timeline with dates that specific parts of the project need to be done. Unlike the previous step, this one may be more difficult (and you may have to redo the last step). For your timeline, you need to take into account not only when things are due, but when people and equipment you need will be available.
Once you have your final plan, you’re ready to get started. But, don’t let you’re planning be done there. We all know that nothing goes exactly as planned. Re-evaluate your plan every so often to make sure it still lines up with client expectations and how things are going. That way there won’t be any surprises later on.