3 Simple Questions to Ask Before Your Annual Project Planning

Jan 20, 2015
6 Min Read

If your company is like most, this time of year is dedicated to focusing in on projects that will become a reality sometime in the near future. This normally means you’ll have to look at the project “wish list” to determine what’s doable and get them on the schedule to begin the process of getting it done.

It can be an arduous task that no one looks forward to since it typically involves several rounds of discussion to nail down projects that need to be done for maintenance purposes and new projects that will help move your business forward.

Before you really dig in to the process, it’s important to ask three simple questions that can help focus your efforts and make the outcome more meaningful.

Question #1: Where are we now?

You absolutely must take a quick look back at what happened in the past year. Assess what got done, what stalled and what never got started. Make sure all the projects that were completed are properly closed out and archived for future reference.

You also want to consider any internal or external influences on your company. Has something shifted in those environments that will directly impact where you focus in the next twelve months?

Last, take a look at what worked really well in the past year for each of your projects. This is not one of the tasks that we do best, but it’s an important component of project success. Here are a couple areas you’ll want to take a look at.

  • Were there specific people involved that made things run smoothly?
  • Was a new tool or process used that helped to successfully move projects along from idea to execution?

Make sure you identify all of the key success factors so you can replicate them in the coming year.

Question #2: What didn’t work well and why?

You can more than likely tick off a laundry list of things that didn’t work well for your projects last year. We’re all pretty good at focusing on the things that don’t go right. But instead of just compiling a list, make the time to actually assess why they didn’t go so well.

After all, you can’t fix something if you don’t know what caused the issue in the first place. You may discover the root cause of the problem has an easy fix that can help make this year’s projects even more successful. Or you might find you need to totally ditch a tool or a process you’re using and find another way to fill the gap. Either way, knowing what caused the problem and addressing how to change that will save you time and money in the long run.

Question #3: Where do we want to be?

The first place to start answering this question is to take a look at this year’s business goals and strategic direction. Any projects that won’t have a direct impact should be moved to the bottom of the priority list. There’s no need to waste time and effort on something that has no chance of ever becoming a reality.

Then review what’s left and complete a tentative priority list based on your business drivers and requirements.

Asking these three simple questions before you begin can help streamline your project planning process to ensure you make the most of the time required to get your schedule set for the coming year.

Let us help you close the gaps by attending our free webinar January 21: "Creating a "GPS" for Your Projects: From Project Request to Success" Click here to register now. Alternatively, you may register for the OnDemand recording and free assets to watch on your own time.

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