“If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?”
—Basil S. Walsh
Moving into each new year calls to mind goal-setting and planning. As the yearly clock resets, many take part in the tradition of resetting personal and professional goals, hoping for a fresh start to clear the pathway to success. When organizing and outlining goals for the new year, you are applying the basics of project planning—a critical phase in any successful project.
Think about a goal your organization is determined to accomplish this year, such as a number of clients served or a fundraising target. To achieve these goals, you will need to answer some important questions:
- What materials and labor hours will be required to complete the mission?
- What are the most important larger tasks, or milestones, in this project, and when should they be done in order to make the project deadline?
- In what sequence should each task be carried out, and how long will each task take?
The answers to these questions make up the beginnings of a project plan. A helpful resource that explains the elements of developing a project plan is this article by Stephanie Ray. Also, there are a variety of free planning tools online that can help create budgets, schedules, and track project progress.
Of course, it’s important to remember that a project plan, even the most detailed one, is a set of guidelines that will likely need revision as the project comes to life and faces practical challenges. However, research has shown that by simply completing the planning phase of your project, you are increasing the chances that you’ll reach your targets, within your budget and on time.