Roadmapping Big Projects…
There is nothing worse than when big projects have been agreed, and before you know it, you're nearing in on last week before the deadline, scrambling around hoping things will align in perfect harmony.
If you find yourself often in this situation, it's simply down to a lack of clear planning and strategy. Of course, in this situation, everyone and everything suffers.
You suffer by putting increased anxiety on yourself, there is a high risk the quality of your work will suffer, particularly if you haven't allowed enough time to work on specific components…
…and the other stakeholders (boss, colleagues and customers) also receive a knock on because of it.
One of the best ways to make sure this doesn't happen is to create a roadmap in advance that maps out how you're going to get the project done.
For this, a “Program Evaluation Review Technique”, also known as a PERT chart, is the answer.
PERT charts allow you to put the pieces of the “project” jigsaw together while outlining what needs to get done and prioritizes what needs to get done first, second and third.
Additionally, it allows you to allocate specific timelines along the way so that you can forecast how long it's likely it's going to take. By Just following the Five steps below, you can lay it all out in a seamless map.
5 Steps to creating a simple PERT chart
1. Brainstorm everything that needs to be covered.
The first step is a relatively simple one, get everything out of your head and onto a piece of paper or a word document. This is so that you make sure you have all the pieces in front of you before you start.
It's also a great way to relieve some stress and provides you with instant relief as, in theory, now you've started to progress just by getting everything out for review.
2. List the tasks and milestones.
From the list of things you've written, pick out the two key elements, which will be either milestones or tasks. Milestones are big events like when you're going to start and end and other keystone aspects.
Tasks are all the processes you need to do in other the get the project done.
Using, creating and publishing an e-book, for example, the following milestones and tasks might be part of the overall project:
• End date
• Chapter outline
• The first draft written
• Final Version Ready
• Sales page completed
• Marketing strategy completed
• E-book Launched
• Create outline
• Draft copy
• Order front cover design
• Identify niche audience
• Proofread copy
• Create landing page opt-in for marketing series
• Email marketing series
• Launch landing page
3. Prioritize dependencies.
With your milestones and tasks all laid out, it's time to prioritize the tasks in particular by ranking your dependencies. This means ranking what “needs to be done first before the next can be done and so on.
To decide what the dependencies are? Ask yourself the question, what can't be completed without a different task happening first?
For example, there is no point in publishing a landing page to collect emails to drive people to your email series without having your email series done first.
Similarly, asking them to purchase your e-book without having a payment system set up first isn't a good idea.
Rank these dependencies now by numbering, starting the first dependant as “1” and the rest thereafter. If you have tasks that are not “dependant”, which mean you can start them now without anything important needed…
…then just leave it out of the ranking and slot it in where you think it fits once you start to plot on the next step.
Using our e-book example, there may not be anything stopping you from getting the e-book front cover designed well in advance or even leaving it to later in the project, so you may not assign any dependency to it.
This will be important as you move to the next step and begin plotting out your PERT chart.
4. Plot out your PERT chart in full.
It's time to start plotting out the best path for all your tasks and milestones.
This can feel a little daunting at first so if you're looking for an easy way to layout your first plot points, start with the “project start” and your deadline “pro end” at either end of the page like below.
Then start filling in the middle. You can always reorganize once you've got your first draft done. However, you need a draft first and foremost to “see” it.
If you want to know what one would look like as an example, just go to google and search for “PERT chart example.”
5. Add timescales for each task.
Now it's time to estimate how much time each task will take you, do this by putting the number of days underneath each arrow.
Add up the time estimates, and this is a concrete estimate of how long the project is going to take. As you can see, it's not quite as complicated when you've got a system in place.
One thing however, should be noted: Once your PERT chart is complete, that doesn't mean you won't need to adapt it. Once you get started, you might well find things get done faster or slower.
As a result, you should update the estimated time once you have a deeper understanding of how long tasks take.
Yikes…this email has went pretty long today. I have some more really cool things to talk with you about when it comes to productivity but I think that’s good for today.
I’ll see you in the next one, and be sure to email me and let me know how you are enjoying this series on being more productive.
Dominus Owen Markham