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What 5 Project Management Skills do you need in 2019?

If you want to stay relevant, here’s the top 5 skills hiring managers are looking for this year.

If you are looking for your next career opportunity, you will want to make sure your experience reflects what recruitment organisations are looking for in 2019. 

1. Regulatory & Compliance

It’s time for organisations to put things right, sort out processes and get things back on track. Of course, to do this they need plenty of Project and Program professionals to help.

If you have Risk, Compliance and/or Regulatory experience on your CV and have worked in the Banking sector previously; there should be plenty of opportunities out there for you!

One positive that this comes with is that demand is outstripping supply; therefore there are some attractive daily rates on offer.

2. Agile

Agile is still here and still in demand. Across all sectors, clients are continuing the push towards a more Agile delivery model.  

Coaches, Scrum Masters and Agile Delivery Leads are in high demand.  This is across both contract and permanent roles and most domains.

If you have hands on experience in Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) then you are a rare commodity.

3. Digital

Across the board, clients are always looking to hire talent with experience in Digital.

If you have experience in running Digital Projects, there should be plenty of opportunities of interest out there for you.   

4. Technology

Cyber Security in Project Management, Cloud, ERP Upgrades – there are still plenty of large-scale IT Programs going on across the market place in need of great project management skills.

Employees are always on the lookout for Project Managers that can make the link between Technology and the Business.  

Technologies most in demand are Salesforce, MX Dynamics and Kronos.  

5. Hybrid background

Are you a Project Manager who can do some of the Business Analysis and Change work?

There has been an increase in demand for PMs who can get down into the detail on a project and who are happy to take on some of the Change and BA tasks.

The word hybrid is being used and lot more freely so if you can wear multiple hats on a Program, you will be in high demand!  

If you are looking to make a move in 2019, feel free to reach look through our list of certifications.

Project Management for Start-ups & Entrepreneurs: A Quick Start Guide

Project management can appear very formal to an outsider.

That’s because project management maps out a specific, seemingly inflexible, process for initiating, monitoring and closing a project, all according to an established methodology. And if you’re an entrepreneur or working at a start-up, the rigidity of these project management systems can feel constraining. Still, the need to have a framework around which to focus your team and resources is critical to any business success.

However strict and formal project management might appear, it can be adapted to fit your situation. There are many different methods, approaches and project management software, depending on your industry and type of project. Plus, there are new ideas coming into the fold all the time, including hybrid methodologies that get the best of both worlds.

So, how can entrepreneurs and teams get the most out of project management, regardless of their start-up environment or business life cycle?

Start with a Vision

First, to use project management effectively, you must begin your project with a vision. You need to have some clear idea or goal that your team can focus on. To get somewhere, anywhere, there must be a destination. This destination must have a specific outcome that impacts your organization or those you serve.

Start-ups and entrepreneurs often try to do a million things at once with limited staff, so crafting a vision is essential for ensuring project success. Well, how do you establish your vision?

Be Specific

You need to spend a bit of time and energy thinking through what you want to achieve and what impact you want to have. It isn’t enough to say something like, “We want to grow our business.”

To give projects a sense of purpose and focus, you’d need to take this general idea and sharpen it. You’d say something like, “We want to grow our business by 10% this quarter by creating a new service line for our existing customers.”

This is a pretty simple example, but it drills down from a vague idea to a specific set of goals. This applies to any type of business, because all projects need to have focus, regardless of the industry.

Make a Plan

Once you have your goal or your outcome in place, the second step in implementing project management is to create a plan. A pothole for projects is not following the plan you made to complete the project.

However, sticking too closely to your plan can lead to another problem: a project plan that locks like handcuffs around the team, not allowing the team to have any flexibility in the way that they tackle the job or approach their roles.

Stay Flexible

As an entrepreneur or start-up, you must be comfortable with change. Change happens, and when you’re blazing a new trail, being able to pivot is key to success. Whatever plan you create today is only a starting point for where you are going to go in the future.

But you still need to have a plan that starts with the end in mind. Where are you going? When do you need to get there? What kind of resources do you have or need? What other factors are involved in getting this project completed?

So, the plan is important but can change. To schedule your plan, make a project timeline with milestones, or major phases of the project, to break down the steps or tasks you’ll have to take to complete in order to finish the project in the time allotted.

The greatest gift you can give your team is the gift of flexibility in reaching the goals and milestones. As stated above, in too many instances, we can create plans that are rigid, which pin us to one path.

Flexibility is important for your team, because if they are working hard and intelligently, the solutions and actions that they take might not be obvious and should be allowed to evolve with experience.

Execute the Project

Now it’s time to move the project to the execution stage. This means turning your team loose on the project.

Often when people and organizations are not hitting peak performance, they skip the first two steps and jump right into this stage of project management. The problem with that is that they fail to ask themselves, “Why?”

For example, if you want to mock up a new feature, have you asked yourself: “Why do I want the new feature? Why do I want to create a new product? Why am I doing a mock up and not something else?”

Don’t Waste Resources

An inefficient organization (and start-ups can’t afford to be inefficient) can spend a lot of time expending resources on things that never should have received valuable resources in the first place. That’s probably the number-one takeaway from project management: do the due diligence of asking yourself the where, what, why, when and how before beginning any project.

As far as the actual execution stage of the project, if you’ve created a thorough plan and worked backwards from a deadline to create a realistic schedule and task list, everything should be in place to start and proceed on track. Of course, you’ll want to monitor and report on the project progress to make sure you’re hitting your benchmarks.

Monitor Progress

How will you measure your success against your milestones and schedule? Ask yourself these questions: “Are the plans and milestones still relevant to achieving the goal or outcome? Are we on, ahead or behind schedule? Is the outcome still relevant to our business or are we just completing what we started?”

You should be constantly asking yourself and your team these questions until you have hit your goal. In addition to asking such questions, you should be monitoring KPIs and other metrics throughout the project. A project dashboard can be a huge help when it comes to tracking metrics on a daily basis.

Know When to Fold ’em

One roadblock that start-ups and entrepreneurs encounter is the unwillingness to recognize and accept sunk costs. By this I mean, if your goal or outcome isn’t relevant anymore, but you’re so far into the project that you won’t let go. You think it might have a negative impact on the team.

The best thing to do is to quit things that need to be abandoned. Knowing when to quit is a bit of an art. If you struggle with it, read Seth Godin’s book The Dip. He writes about knowing when to quit and when to stay the course.

Wrap It Up

Finally, you should wrap up the project. At this point, you should have achieved your outcome and have something significant to show for your time and resources.

Archive Your Documents

Collect the lessons learned in a framework that you can use for future projects. Note things that worked and things that didn’t. Spend time thinking about schedules and resource usage, making notes of what you expected and what actually happened.

You might want to collect your communications schedules, reports and other documents that you can use to create templates for future projects.

Lessons Learned for Future Projects

Creating a resource that helps you accelerate the kick-off of future projects is the key to ending a project well. Depending on your nature and your organization, these documents collected may be complex, or they may be loose.

Again, the important thing is to make sure you have collected things to look for and things to avoid so that you don’t have to relearn everything every time you start a project.

I think if you can think of your projects as four simple phases, it will make it easier for you to use project management principles and this will allow you to not only make project management something you can add quickly, but effectively as well.

Entrepreneurs and start-ups need nimble software to plan, monitor and report on their volatile projects. Projectmanagementcompanion.com has many cloud-based project management solutions to choose from that offer real-time dashboard and an online Gantt charts, giving you the flexibility you need to respond quickly to change. See how they can help your project by taking a free 30-day trial.

The Seven Project Management priorities for 2019

Anyone who tells you, with complete certainty, what 2019 will provide at the commencement of the year is only speculating. The best anyone can do is to understand that the process to working out what is going to happen in the New Year only commenced from the lessons learnt in the previous year.

To fully understand your priorities for 2019, examine the way your world was at the end of the previous year and how it has commenced this year. The one trend that seems to be completely reliable coming into the New Year is disruption. The world has seen some challenges for the last couple of years and looks certain to remain through 2019.

There seems to be less outright conflict, however there are still internal stresses and strains within countries and regions, and add to those geopolitical threats. These then translate into the everyday concerns of our employers, clients and sponsoring organizations. So, we must be mindful of them, as we establish our seven priorities for project managers in 2019.

There seems to be less outright conflict, however there are still internal stresses and strains within countries and regions, and add to those geopolitical threats. These then translate into the everyday concerns of our employers, clients and sponsoring organizations. So, we must be mindful of them, as we establish our seven priorities for project managers in 2019.

1. Courageous Leadership

When disruption is normal, then the first priority should always be exemplary leadership. There aren’t likely to be many countries today where there is a consensus that national leadership fits this description. There would also be challenges in believing that leaders are prioritising the needs of stakeholders when managing projects, nor are the required hard decisions being made.

As project managers, we must stand out by building the future for our sponsors. To get it right, we must put ourselves on the front line and act with absolute integrity. We can do nothing else if we don’t get this step correct, for what is to follow will simply not work.

2. Personal Resilience

Remember to always look after yourself, for if you are unable to function and provide accurate direction in a complex and demanding environment, coupled with a determination to do what is right, despite the cost, will make for high levels of stress.

The following four items should be a priority in your life, having a robust physical, mental and emotional aspect will assist in looking after your team and stakeholders.

  1. Fuel: What you put into your body makes a huge difference to your well-being. Be sure to take a lunch break each day.
  2. Rest: Nobody can perform well when they are tired. A couple of poor nights’ sleep in a row can damage your judgement and emotional stability just as much as an excess of alcohol. Fix your sleep schedule to improve your productivity.
  3. Energy: Regular exercise does not just build up your physical stamina, but affords an opportunity to shift mental gears and detach from the stressful concerns of your workplace.
  4. Relationships: These indicate both our mental health and the source of protection for it. Invest time and effort in maintaining the relationships that matter to you. A work-life balance is essential in today’s digital social culture.

3. Make Time for Yourself

The need to carve out time just for yourself, remember to have some “Me” time whether that is through a hobby or a “passion project” will assist in re-energising your focus. Do what it takes to create balance in your life.

4. Exceptional Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement does not change from year to year; it should be a priority in 2020—and also in 2121. As a project manager, make sure you are serving your client, your sponsor and your organization, but the people who will truly judge your work are your stakeholders.

Exceptional stakeholder engagement is the one lever to successful project management that will always dominate the others. If you place your stakeholders at the heart of every scrap of planning and delivery, you will be most likely to get things right. Make the commitment to engage them actively. Ask questions, listen, respect their views and open a dialogue. Keep your stakeholders fully informed, and work hard to balance the needs of each against those of the others.

5. Agility and Certainty

There are plenty of project management commentators to remind you of the rise of agile. And certainly, if you are not aware of its strengths, shortcomings and methodologies, you’ll need to make learning about it a priority for 2019. Use traditional project management methodologies as the foundation to any project, there are centuries of completed projects to suggest success in the foundations.

The real priority here is to recognize that you always have three principle options when determining your broad approach to a project:

  1. A largely planned, predictive approach that borrows shamelessly from the agile toolset, when you need to
  2. A fundamentally agile approach that selects a suitable methodology, but also incorporates useful elements from traditional project management
  3. A truly blended approach that draws generously from the full breadth of traditional and agile thinking

6. Learn to Work Virtually

The rise of small, compact, agile teams, who use scrum or scrum-like methodologies, has its place in modern project management. This is the rise of large, global teams who rarely or never meet in the real world. Large organizations have always had to organize globally. But more of us are working with virtual teams, in different offices, in different organizations, and in no office at all, but a converted bedroom in a private home.

These are virtual teams, made of people who work together, but may never meet. Project Management software tools oil the bearings of virtual collaboration. But, regardless of location, the values that drive good teamwork doesn’t change. And, as a project manager, you need to understand them and put them into practice.

7. Keep Learning

This last priority is also an evergreen priority, like priority 4. It’s built into most professional qualifications. As a professional, your skills need to grow, or they will wither. There is no middle ground.

A failure to invest in your knowledge and skills will mean they don’t just stop growing: they will die. Continual professional development is not just a set of points to keep a qualification: it’s a duty…and a pleasure.

Whatever route you choose for professionalism, the PMI’s guideline of 35 education hours per three years must be an absolute minimum. That is, after all, just an hour a month. And you cannot even read a decent professional magazine in that time. It’s just three articles like this, per week.

So, whether it’s learning more about virtual teams, doing an agile course, reading a book on stakeholder engagement, or attending a cookery workshop, do make 2019 another year when you keep learning.

Another priority for project managers in 2019 is making sure they’re equipped with the best tools to take advantage of new trends. The tools located here are cloud-based project management software that gives users real-time dashboards and a collaborative online Gantt chart for better scheduling. Try one today, free with a 30-day trial.

The Basics of Project Cost Management

What is project cost management, why is it important and which tips can help you stay on track?

In Review – The Basics of Project Cost Management

There’s a lot to say about project cost management, to make the subject manageable, it is better to break it down into three parts.

Which are: Why is project cost management important to discuss? What is the process of managing project costs? What are some practical tips to help manage project costs?

Why Is Project Cost Management Important?

The best way to see how crucial project cost management is when managing a project is by performing a thought experiment. Let’s look at how a project works with and without having project cost management.

 When you are using project cost management, it sets a baseline for project costs. That means it governs the decisions and directions you take when managing costs on your project. This helps you keep the project on track without going over budget.

Without project cost management, the organization could lose money as costs exceed profits. Another issue is that you might incorrectly invoice your customers. All this leads to a sloppy budget and a dangerous inability to note when you’re overspending.

What Is the Process of Managing Project Costs?

Cost management is a way of managing project cost, which includes estimating project costs. Therefore, the first thing you want to do is to get an estimation of all your costs at the task level.

Once you have those figures, you can move onto the next step, which is developing a project budget. You want to baseline all the costs and create a set of actions that will keep you on track.

All of these initial steps are taken to control spending for the project. In order to track project costs throughout the project, consider making a template, or use our free project budget template. Once you have a template, start by collecting the labour, how long each task will take the hourly rate of each team member, material costs and all units of measurement.

Other costs to measure include travel, equipment and space expenses. There are other fixed and miscellaneous costs, of course, and you want to note them again at the task level. Once you have your budgeted amount, you can track it as the project progresses.

Some project costs are easier to collect than others. Labour, consulting fees, raw materials, software and travel are considerably simpler to chart than other costs that might change.

These more difficult costs include such things as telephone charges, office space, office equipment, general administrative costs and company insurance.

Tips for Managing Project Cost

Below are some tips to keep in mind as you’re working on managing your project costs.

  • Plan for Inflation: Pricing is not set in stone, and any good budget is going to take this into account by allowing for a range of costs.
  • Account for Natural Disasters or Potential Events: Expect the unexpected might sound silly, but you must have room in your budget for a weather event, personal issue or some other unknown that will delay the project. Always have a contingency plan.
  • Other Unexpected Costs: Not all unexpected costs are random. There can be legal issues, penalties associated with the project or unexpected labour costs, all of which you can’t budget for, but can prepare your budget for.
  • Track in Real-Time: Having software to monitor the budget as you execute the project is key for managing costs. However, if you’re looking at data that is not current, you won’t be able to act swiftly enough to resolve issues. Therefore, you want to have software with real-time data tracking.
  • Respond Promptly: Regardless of how you discover a discrepancy in your project cost, you must act immediately. The longer you wait, the more money is wasted.
  • Size Accordingly: Some people think smaller projects don’t need project cost management. But small or large, you’ll want to manage costs.

Pro-Tip: In order to best manage project costs, you have to know your project inside and out. The best way to do that is at the start of the project by creating a thorough project charter.

Transcription:

There is so much to cover when dealing with project costs, the primary focus will be on three areas. They are importance, what it really is and useful tips used previously in managing costs in projects.

It’s important because by using cost management on your project, it helps you to set the baseline for your project cost. And then therefore, that governs the actions you take to keep the budget on track.

So ultimately, you are trying to prevent going over budget. But if not used the following could occur. The company might lose money because some of the costs could exceed the project, and also could cause your customers to be invoiced incorrectly.

So, let’s look at what cost management really is. Well, cost management is a process for managing your cost of your project and it includes estimating your cost.

The project cost is obtained through a detailed list with estimates for each task level, take that and develop your project budget.

So, the deliverable is, you have your project budget that you baseline all your cost again at the task level. And you take that, and it’s used to control the spending for your projects. So, ultimately there is a set of action steps you take to keep on track.

It is best to use a project budget template, we look at the project tasks and possibly subtasks.

Focus on labour, material cost and all of the cost, labour is measured in how many hours for that task and how much is being paid per hour. The task may have some kind of material cost, which is measured in units, and there is a dollar cost per unit.

There are other costs, like, travel, maybe any kind of equipment or space, and any other fixed or miscellaneous cost. Then at the task level, you have your budgeted amount, and as you track along the way, you ultimately get to what it actually costs for that task.

So, in the end, every task and even at the full-project level, you look at where you come out, such as are you under budget? Are you over budget, at the task level and at the project level?

Remember it is always best to focus on going under budget. There are a few things that should be pointed out on the template. Some costs will be easier to collect than others. Some of those look like your labour cost or even your consulting fees, maybe your raw materials, or even software license, and even your travel cost.

And then some of the costs may change, or they may be shared among other projects, or they may even carry over to other projects. And some of those look like, your telephone charges, maybe even your office space or office equipment, maybe your general administration, and your company insurance.

Here are some tips on how you can improve managing your cost. Firstly plan for inflation, if you have a project that is short in duration, it may not be impacted by inflation, unless an unexpected event occurs which could impact the inflation on your project.

If you have a longer project in duration that spans a couple of years, inflation may impact it. It may even make your cost increase or it may cause them to decrease.

You also want to account for natural disasters, as this can cause an unexpected rise in your cost, or even may impact some of the resources on your project.

Also account for any other potential events, such as industries which are impacted by possible union labour, or any kind of strikes, or similar events.

Include unexpected cost, which may look like legal fees which were not anticipated or any kind of penalties from certain industries, which may affect labour cost. For instance, if for any reason, you need a subject matter expert, those costs may be more than you anticipated.

Track these in real time so you can respond promptly. Size and scale the project accordingly, if any deviations happen, they tend to compound and impact your project negatively.

Regardless of the project size, cost management is imperative, because any deviation to cost will impact the budget negatively.

As for large projects, your cost management should have a greater level of detail. Both of these, small versus large, is typically the same process.

If you need a tool that can help you manage your cost on your project, then access one of the software tool provided by our partners.

5 Ways To Measure Project Success

Project managers often wonder if they are measuring the right things on a project. It’s difficult to know how much time to spend evaluating past performance and how much time to spend on keeping the work moving forward.

Of course there are many indicators of project success, but what do you need to be measuring while the project is in motion?

At various points during the project you want to evaluate five points: schedule, quality, cost, stakeholder satisfaction and performance against the business case. You should be doing this informally anyway. A formal project evaluation is of use during the end of a phase or stage as it can give you a clear indication of how the project is performing against the original estimates. This information can then be used to grant (or withhold) approval from moving on with the next chunk of work.

Let’s look at the five items you should be evaluating.

1. Schedule

Project management success is often determined by whether or not you kept to the original timeline. Experienced project managers know how hard that is, but it’s a little bit easier if you continually evaluate your progress as you go.

You’ll update your project schedule regularly – I recommend at least weekly. The schedule evaluation is something you can do more formally at the end of the stage or phase, or as part of a monthly report to your senior stakeholder group or Project Board.

Look at your major milestones and check if they still fall on the same dates as you originally agreed. Work out the slippage, if any, and how much of an impact this will have on your overall project timescales.

2. Quality

The end of a project phase is a good time for a quality review. You can check both the quality of your project management practices – are you following the change management process every time and so on – and also the deliverables.

A quality review can evaluate whether what you are doing meets the standards set out in your quality plans. Best find out now before the project goes too far, as it might be too late to do anything about it then.

3. Cost

Many executives would rate cost management as one of their highest priorities on a project, so evaluating how you the project is performing financially is crucial. Compare your current actual spend to what you had budgeted at this point. If there are variances, look to explain them.

You’ll also want to look forward and re-forecast the budget to the end of the project. Compare that to your original estimate too and make sure it is close enough for your management team to feel that the work is on track. If your forecasts go up too much it is a sign that your spending will be out of control by the end of the project – again, something it is better to know about now.

4. Stakeholder Satisfaction

Your wider team – your stakeholders – are essential in getting much of the work done, so it’s worth checking in with them. Find out how they are feeling about the project right now and what you could be doing differently.

This is a difficult measure to document statistically, although there’s nothing to stop you asking them for a rating out of 10. Even if you are evaluating their satisfaction subjectively, it is still a useful exercise. If you notice that stakeholders are not fully supportive, you can put plans in place to engage them thoroughly to try to influence their behavior.

5. Performance to Business Case

Finally, you’ll want to go back to the business case and see what you originally agreed. How is your project shaping up? Check that the benefits are still realistic and that the business problem this project was designed to solve does still exist. It happens – project teams work on initiatives that sound great but by the time they are finished the business environment has moved on and the project is redundant. No one bothered to check the business case during the project’s life cycle and so no one realized that the work was no longer needed.

Don’t work on something that nobody wants! Check the business case regularly and evaluate it in light of the current business objectives.

You can add other items to this list. In fact, it should reflect what is important to you and your team – you should be evaluating things that matter, so feel free to add extra elements or ditch some of the ones that you are less worried about. If you need help working out what’s important, this article about how to set up project tracking will help.

When your project is over you’ll want to carry out a full and final evaluation. This could be as part of a lessons learned review, but typically it is different. A lessons learned review is where all the project stakeholders comment on what worked and what didn’t. You take away key messages and tasks to improve how projects are delivered in the future. It’s an essential part of project closure, but it isn’t a formal evaluation. You get a lot of feedback, anecdotes and stories but even the most structured lessons learned workshop generally gives you narrative rather than statistics.

A project evaluation is about figures. The stories form part of it too, but a smaller part. During a project evaluation you look at:

  • Schedule
  • Quality
  • Cost
  • Stakeholder satisfaction
  • Performance to business case

Sound familiar? Yes, it’s the same list of topics that you evaluate as you go through the project. Anything that you are going to be evaluating at the end should also be assessed during the project’s life cycle, or you risk not hitting the targets you have set for yourself.

You can include your final end-of-project evaluation in your Project Closure Document (get a template here). Note down how close you were to your original timescales, budget and quality targets. Add a few sentences to describe whether your evaluations showed that stakeholders were satisfied with the end result and also if the project met the needs described in the business case.

5 Tips for Creating a Better Project Proposal Outline

A project proposal is a core document that helps you sell a potential project to sponsors and stakeholders.

A project proposal is unique to each project, of course, but the format is basically the same, if you follow a basic outline. We have even created a free project proposal template to help you structure your document so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you’re drafting your proposal. This helps you focus on the substance of the proposed plan, while using an easy-to-follow project proposal outline.

But before you begin, you need to get in the mind of the people you’re pitching. They’ll have many questions, and you’ll want to make sure all of those are answered in your project proposal document. Such as:

  • What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • How does the project align with your organization’s overall strategic goals?
  • What are the benefits for the user?
  • What metrics will you use to measure success?
  • What are the deliverables?
  • What is the timeframe, what are the deadlines and how do you plan to meet them?
  • What are the resources you’ll need to get the project done on time?
  • What’s the project budget?
  • What are the risks and issues?
  • Who are the people responsible for the project and what are their roles?
  • How will the project be reported?

Most project proposals (including our template) are designed to help you answer all of those questions as you complete your document. Our project proposal Word template, for example, is broken up into these six basic parts:

  1. Executive Summary: Think of this as the elevator pitch; it sketches out the project in a way to hook the sponsor.
  2. History: Put the project in context; note any precedents and how they can help or hurt the project’s success.
  3. Requirements: Describe in detail the business problem the project solves or what opportunity does it take advantage of.
  4. Solution: Explain the plan to solve the problem or exploit the opportunity.
  5. Authorization: Note the people who have authorization throughout the project.
  6. Appendix: This is where you attach papers supporting your proposal.

That’s the bare minimum, of course. Writing a project proposal is the first step in outlining what the project is designed to accomplish, and our template will help make sure you address all the concerns and questions of your audience. But there are many more ways you can pump up your proposal to make it more effective. Follow these five tips, and you’ll write a winning project proposal every time.

Plan Ahead

First, think of the proposal as a project in and of itself (albeit a small project). Apply all the project management skills and experience you have towards defining the steps involved in creating the proposal, including how long it’ll take and what resources you’ll need to accomplish it.

The best proposals are well researched ones. Include time for research, as well as some float for delayed requests for data. Make sure you’re also planning for when you intend to have the actual presentation. Be prepared for the eventuality that when you bring up the idea to sponsors or executives to meet to discuss the proposal, you’ll actually discuss the project in some detail with them at that time. Some curious minded folks might start asking questions of you at the point at which you’re trying to simply set up a meeting. So, be sure to have done some preliminary work on the proposal, at a minimum a solid elevator pitch, so you can speak intelligently about it. You don’t want sponsors to shoot down an idea, before it has a chance to get a fair hearing.

Finally, give yourself time to get peer feedback, or even mentor or sponsor feedback, while you’re drafting and developing the proposal. Ask trusted advisers to review your idea and drafts, as well as provide feedback on mock presentations. Make sure you leave yourself time to incorporate feedback, too.

Write a Super Executive Summary

If you can’t wow your audience in your opening pitch, it’s going to be that much harder to win them over as you go through the finer details of the proposal during your project proposal presentation. You need to write your executive summary so that the project sounds exciting, addresses a problem that needs resolution or defines an opportunity that can be profitable.

Of course, you want to supply an overview of the facts. What is that problem, need or goal? What’s your solution and how do the numbers support that? What are the costs and benefits of your solution? But you want to draft this section (and present it) with energy. Avoid being too timid with your words or trying earnestly to “just let the data do the talking.” Numbers are only interesting when presented by humans. If you can sweep up the sponsors in your enthusiasm, they’ll be more likely to follow you as you explain the details of how you plan to achieve your goal.

Be sure to further amaze your sponsors by acknowledging an overview of the risks and issues inherent in the project. By noting them up front in the executive summary, you can address how you’ll mitigate them proactively, and avoid letting your audience stew in a state of worry and what ifs. The best executive summary is a roll up of all the research and due diligence you have put into the rest of your proposal.

Get to the Point!

Good writing is, above all, clear and understandable and intended for a particular audience. That goes doubly so for the body of your proposal. You want to articulate the details without getting lost in the weeds, and in so doing lose your audience.

So, what do you do? You stick to the pertinent facts. Trust that you have wowed them in the executive summary; now make your case step-by-step using relevant data to bring your point home. Most readers will not read every single word you write. They will scan your document, looking for data that validates your claim.

Follow our proposal outline template through the body of the document. You’ll be providing the background and history, as well as detailed synopsis of the type of project it is, its scope, industry analysis and competitor research, where relevant. All of the details that your sponsor is going to want to know should be laid out following the outline, so that it’s simple and easy for them to read quickly.

Pro Tip: Don’t get creative. It’s not the time or place. Once you’ve given them a stunning executive summary, the sponsors are going to want to get down to the nitty gritty of the project, without any unneeded flourishes, in an easily scannable document so that they can make the best decision possible.

Explain How You’ll Achieve the Goal

Your project boils down to the plan that you’ve formulated to get from point A to point B. There can be no dead ends on this route, or you’re not going to get approval.

Know the difference between a goal and an objective. Goals are broad, defining the project overall. But that doesn’t mean you can be vague. Again, you want to write a clear, singular and easily understood goal. Objectives are the details about how you will achieve those goals. To do this, follow the old journal rule of the Five Ws: Who, What, When, Where and Why? These objectives must always support your goal, and they should make logical sense in the order in which you set them up.

Here’s a tip to help you make better goals: make them SMART goals. Everyone wants to be smart, right? In this case, it stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time. Following this logic, you’ll be able to convince decision makers that your project is not just SMART, but also in good hands.

Show Historic Precedent

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There’s likely historical data that gives your current proposal a solid foundation on which to present your proposed project to sponsors.

Historical data is simply data collected about past events, in this case, prior projects or teams. By connecting your proposal to successful projects of the past that shared similar goals or constraints, you’re able to explain to sponsors that this proposal is viable. Find data to support both why this project is a winner because you’ve analyzed past failure rates or because you’ve analyzed the successes of projects past.

Once your proposal is approved, the real work begins. You’ll have to plan, schedule, manage resources, monitor progress and report back to your sponsors. To do this efficiently and productively demands a robust and dynamic project management tool. Projectmanagercompanion.com has the online PM software that gives you real-time data to take that proposal and guide it to a successful conclusion. Try it for yourself and see, with this free 30-day trial.