New to Project Management? Here’s the Complete Manual on Running Projects of all Kinds
Approximately 66% of the people who manage projects in any given organization have no project management training of any kind. This can present a challenge for organizations, teams, and for the project managers themselves.
We’ve spent a month scouring the Internet for the best articles about how to manage projects through every phase of creation. The result? Hundreds of articles that will help anyone understand what to do when they’re managing a project. Whether you’re a professional project manager looking to bolster your knowledge base, or a project has been thrust on you and you don’t know where start, this resource manual should come in handy.
Click on a link in the table of contents below to go directly to that section.
1. Define the problem
Project management for non-project managers
- A project management guide for non-project managers. This article describes what project management is, highlights key project management skills, provides best practices, and breaks down common project management software.
- The Project Management Starter Guide for Non-Project Managers offers very similar content, also diving into the phases of a project and how to get started.
- It’s important to use the collective genius of your team, and brainstorming allows you to do that. But not all brainstorms are created equal, and you need to find the process that works best for you.
- Six steps to organize a winning brainstorming session, including picking the right facilitator and defining the problem.
- Five ways to transform your next work brainstorming session into something really great, including “brainwriting” and “starbursting.”
- One of the core responsibilities of a product manager is to prioritize everything that needs to get done into a roadmap. Here’s how to prioritize your most important work.
- How to use the simple and highly effective RICE method to prioritize your product roadmap.
- This guide covers 20 popular product prioritization techniques. Included in the article: a map, in the form of a periodic table to help you make sense of what each technique has to offer; an overview of each method, with graphics and links to more in-depth resources; and five commonalities and takeaways from all these methods.
- Learn more about customer success, what it is, and why your business needs it as an effective acquisition channel for gaining users.
- How to blend analysis and intuition to make project management decisions. This paper outlines a decision making technique designed to integrate objective fact-based analysis with subjective human-centric input.
- Five project management decision-making models: SWOT analysis, Maslow’s pyramid, Pareto principle, Monte Carlo simulation, and decision tree analysis.
- Mastering data management can streamline operations for all teams. Here’s how.
- How to use user research when you don’t have the time or budget to run user tests, card sorts, or stakeholder interviews, or when your company doesn’t want you bothering the paying customers who use their software.
- User research: What it is and why you should do it.
- A talk with David Darmanin of Hotjar on how to use user research to transform your company. The link contains the full recording and an excerpt of the talk, edited for length and clarity.
- A five-step process for conducting user research written by the director of user research at LinkedIn.
- Modern day UX research methods answer a wide range of questions. Learn when you should use each different user research method. Each of the 20 methods is mapped across three dimensions and plotted on the timeline of a typical product development process.
- How to choose a user research method. This article is intended to give a quick rundown of how to decide on what your research goals are, and what techniques you can use to achieve those goals.
- A step-by-step tutorial on how-to conduct usability testing.
- An explanation of how to conduct the five phases of usability testing: Prepare your product or design to test, find your participants, write a test plan, take on the role of the moderator, and present your findings.
- The basics of recruiting users for usability testing.
- A beginner’s guide to user journey mapping.
- When and how to create customer journey maps. Journey maps combine two powerful instruments — storytelling and visualization — in order to help teams understand and address customer needs. While maps take a wide variety of forms depending on context and business goals, certain elements are generally included, and there are underlying guidelines to always follow.
- How to create a customer journey map.
- It’s generally pretty unclear how to actually create customer journey maps. This article will draw processes and customer journey mapping examples from experts in the field, so you can walk away with a real and clear picture of how to do it on your own.
- The conversion funnel is the most important part of every e-commerce website. It’s how visitors turn into customers. But what happens when a visitor enters the conversion funnel but doesn’t end up buying? Here’s how to find and fix conversion problems with Google Analytics.
- Your website is leaking money. Everybody’s is. The first step toward plugging the leaks is identifying where they are. Which funnel steps, which layers of your site, which specific pages are leaking money? Google Analytics can provide answers. https://conversionxl.com/blog/10-google-analytics-reports-tell-site-leaking-money/
- How is each page on my website performing? Here’s how to identify and fix the problematic pages on your website with Google Analytics.
- An outline of the steps required to identify conversion problems on your website.
- There are many reasons a website isn’t driving people down the funnel. Take a look at the top 10 reasons your website isn’t earning conversions. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/10/20/site-conversions-problems
- “The 3-Step Conversion Funnel That Will Revolutionize Your Conversion Optimization” sees Neil Patel propose a strategy-driven model that is simple (only three steps), focused (on revenue), and tactical (you can start implementing the method today). https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/revolutionize-your-conversion-optimization/
- A straightforward guide to optimizing your funnels for maximum conversions. In this article: where you should start, the most important interaction points to test, the essential elements of those interaction points to test, and different tests you can run.
- “Conversion Funnel 101: How to Uncover and Optimize Your Customer Journey.” Not sure where to start? Don’t panic. In this post, they’ll walk you through how to attract more shoppers to your conversion funnel, how to better optimize that funnel to boost your bottom line, and what to do with those potential shoppers who didn’t convert along the way. https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/conversion-rate-optimization-conversion-funnel/
- A breakdown of nine common usability mistakes in web design.
- Eight common website problems and how to fix them
- Want to know how to handle a website outage? Here’s our guide on incident management.
- This article outlines the common shortcomings of website design projects based on the feedback from clients, project leads, and agency owners. The goal of this article is to outline common issues that arise during the course of a website project, and how to fix them.
The root cause of common issues:
- Understand the root cause of your project issues by learning how to implement the “5 Whys” method. The method involves brainstorming problem causes, and asking “why did this happen” for each of the causes, until the root cause has been identified. https://open.buffer.com/5-whys-process/
- Seven methods for identifying the root cause of an issue with your project, as well as a way to separate correlation from causality.
- The problem tree method for analyzing the causes and consequences of a project issue. This analysis tool provides the project team with a quick glance at how a range of complex issues can contribute to a problem — and how this problem branches out into an equally complex set of consequences. Both causes and consequences are fitted into the diagram on a hierarchical preference basis. https://www.brighthubpm.com/project-planning/118441-problem-tree-a-comprehensive-analysis-tool/
- In this article, you’ll be walked through the process of cost-benefit analysis, and offered insights and tips from industry experts. They’ll shine a light on the risks and uncertainties you should be aware of as you work, and provide real-world examples to show cost-benefit analysis in action.
Analysis of common kinds of failure
- How to write a problem statement.
- How to write a problem statement for a six sigma project.
- Discover how to frame a problem to your team, by defining the problem you’re solving, its impact on customers, and the context in which it happened.
- How to use problem statements to solve project issues.
- Bottlenecks are often where work processes break down, budgets burst from the added cost of delays, and the whole system becomes unpredictable. Here’s how to remove them.
- Often, removing a bottleneck completely is either impossible or too difficult, expensive, or time-consuming. Finding a way to protect an existing bottleneck from getting clogged is often a more convenient option. Here’s how to take control of your bottlenecks and prevent them from creating damage.
- IT is the lifeblood of countless companies and projects. A single point of failure in your IT network can create big problems down the road. Here’s how to find (and eliminate) single points of failure.
- A Google Analytics course for beginners.
- How to use Google Analytics: A guide for absolute beginners.
- Nine awesome things you can do with Google Analytics 5
- 5 ways Hotjar recordings can help you understand your users.
- Heat-maps are exactly what their name suggests:
visual representations (maps) of the most clicked, tapped, swiped, and viewed (hot) points of a website page or app. Learn simple and actionable ways to improve your site pages through eight quick heatmap tests.
- If you’re overwhelmed by Google Analytics or just looking for an alternative way to see how people actually use your website, Lucky Orange is another heatmap tool to try. Here’s what you need to know about it. https://www.cmscritic.com/lucky-orange-an-excellent-alternative-to-google-analytics/
- Need a cheaper alternative to traditional A/B testing? Here’s how to use Google Optimize to run experiments on your site in just a few minutes.
- A beginner’s guide to Google Optimize.
- And another great beginner’s guide to Google Optimize.
2. Scope the solution
Estimating and understanding the project
- For a quick overview of five common methods of project estimation, Liquid Planner’s Kevin Crump’s article is a bit of an oldie but a goodie. Figure out what method seems like the right approach to you and then hit up Google for more info.
- Project charters are documents intended to identify an assigned project manager, signify the start of a project, and define key parameters. Get expert tips on writing a project charter.
- Decision making trees are a classic project manager’s tool used to understand the risk and expense of various options in a project. Here’s a quick and simple explanation of decision making trees with helpful flowcharts to show you how it’s done.
- Want tips on how to run a meeting to build and gather consensus for a project? Not everyone who’s in a meeting is necessarily going to be key in launching the project, and this framework lets them voice opinions while not blocking project delivery. https://www.brightwork.com/blog/use-consensus-decision-making-project-management#.WsoAztPwYmJ
- When you’re scoping out the size of a project, it can really help to visualize it. Instead of the common Gantt chart, check out the more detailed PERT chart to uncover opportunities to make your project delivery more efficient. https://searchsoftwarequality.techtarget.com/definition/PERT-chart
- Key to determining scope is getting people to estimate just how much work a task or project will take. This handy guide gives you a quick how-to on conducting estimations for any kind of team.
- Mountain Goat is a great resource for Agile tools and processes in general. This article, about a popular estimation method, can be your starting point for dozens more articles that can help you better manage projects. https://www.mountaingoatsoftware.com/agile/planning-poker
- Story points, buckets, tee shirt sizes… no matter what you call them, getting accurate estimations out of team members is very hard to do. This article provides ideas for the next time you need to conduct a scoping and planning session. Just keep in mind that, as Hiten says in the article, a lot of what goes on in estimates shows that we’re all pretty much guessing. https://producthabits.com/engineering-estimates/
- The secrets behind making story points and agile estimation as accurate as possible.
- Estimating work effort in Agile projects is fundamentally different from traditional methods of estimation. Agile projects, by contrast, use a “top-down” approach, using gross-level estimation techniques on feature sets. They then employ progressive elaboration and rolling-wave planning methods to drill down to the task level on a just-in-time basis, iteratively uncovering more and more detail each level down. This paper will elaborate on two common techniques for agile estimation (planning poker and affinity grouping), as well as touch on how the results of these exercises provide input into forecasting schedule and budget.
- How do you estimate on an Agile project? This article explores common approaches and their adaptations from real-world projects.
- Estimates are an essential part of Agile project planning. Here’s an overview of traditional versus Agile project estimation techniques.
- Relative estimation can save your team from trying to deliver on an unrealistic schedule. This article sums up some academic research into the topic in case you wanted a more scholarly read about how to scope projects.
- When you’re scoping out your project, it can help to visualize what is going to be delivered and when. Gantt charts have become the industry standard for that purpose, and this article provides an overview of what they are and how they work.
- A simple eight-step guide to running a requirements-gathering meeting. This article is great for new project managers (or incidental project managers) who want to learn how to scope and build rapport with project stakeholders from the very beginning.
- It’s hard to scope out a project well if you don’t know what the requirements are; it’s even harder to deliver a good project if you don’t know what you were supposed to deliver. This article talks about how to bake in a quality control process to your scoping to ensure that your requirements are not just delivered, but meet expectations.
- This project scope template will help align all stakeholders on what your project’s “definition of done” is. It will also help to prevent scope creep from killing your budget and timeline.
Planning & designing the project
- Looking for a template for a project charter? The Casual PM’s detailed guide includes a few templates and a number of other resources to help you create your own charter.
- Another handy resource on writing a project charter, this post comes with a free template and a video overview as well. https://www.projectmanager.com/blog/how-to-create-a-project-charter
- TeamGantt wrote a literal book on this topic. If you’re going to read one article on how to build a project plan, make it this one. It’s a long read, but that’s because it’s an important topic.
- Learn how to build a mission statement for a project, helping you sell the idea both internally and externally. https://www.projectconnections.com/articles/082202-decarlo.html
- Here are 16 different KPIs that you can use to help measure the success and health of a project while it’s underway.
- Breaking project delivery KPis into timeliness, budget, quality, and effectiveness, this article helps you decide what you need to measure in order to achieve your project goals.
- If you don’t know where to start on KPIs, this overview provides four common KPIs you may want to consider: ROI, CPI, SPI, and resource capacity.
- Building project scope into your project plan is crucial to keep feature creep from making a never-ending project. Clarizan gives some helpful tips on how that can work.
- When you’re launching a project, it’s important to help define the scope by grooming the backlog of tasks that you’re working on, iterating along the way to get feedback, and making sure that what you’re delivering is still something that addresses the core problem you’re trying to solve.
- Scoping a project requires that you establish what a healthy baseline for success looks like. Whether you’re 10% or 80% of the way to completion, measuring progress against a baseline will help set realistic expectations on delivery. https://www.uci.ac.cr/global-school-project-management/project-management-baselines-scope-baseline/
- The smart folks at Smartsheet have written up an extensive guide on how to estimate a project’s costs.
- A simple six-step process you can use to help you understand how to scope a project from start to finish.
- Part of scoping is acknowledging what “scoping” is and what it isn’t. In some organizations, scoping will include elements like budgeting, hiring concerns, and even employee evaluation. For others, it’s just a statement of what project needs to be considered successful or complete. If you’re of the opinion that your scoping should be as light as possible, it’s worth checking out the idea of #NoEstimate development.
Prototyping and soliciting feedback
- Most software designers have experience creating wireframes, but if you’re new to the idea, this post will help you spot problems and fix them while you’re scoping the project, instead of after it’s developed.
- An overview of wireframing tools and how and why to test wireframes. If you’re working on a project with a software element, this is key.
- Whether or not you’re working on a software project, it’s often helpful to create an inexpensive prototype to validate your ideas. Discover how usability testing prototypes will help you ensure your product will have the desired effect.
- For a survey of methods you can use to conduct a usability survey, this article is a great starting point. Check it out if you’re new to usability testing as a concept.
- If you’re initiating usability testing after you’ve finished your project, you’re doing it wrong. This article will help you justify testing a project before you even get started.
Prioritizing elements of a project
- Six Agile methods for backlog prioritization.
- A big overview of 20 different project prioritization techniques, this article helps you take individual tasks (or, in Agile vocabulary, ‘stories’) and figure out which ones are most appropriate for your project’s needs. This goes way beyond just software development, so if you’re looking for a mental toolkit to help you understand and solve what to tackle in your next project, check this out.
- No matter the project, no matter the team, if you’re SMART about defining a goal, you’ll increase your chances of finishing your project on time. Read on Workopolis about what that means.
- Setting goals allows you to prioritize tasks and then measure performance. Here’s how to do it.
- Kanban boards can be physical or virtual. Here are 20 different software packages you can use to create a virtual kanban board that you can share across your team, organization, or company.
- Tried waterfall, tried Agile, gone on to kanban, and still don’t think you’ve found the right way to work as a team? Check out Jim Coplien’s article about the downsides of Kanban management, what we should be doing instead, and how to structure a team of true experts at their craft.
- Considering #NoEstimation development? Check out what six experts have to say about it before you make up your mind.
Breaking down the work
- A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is a key part of building a classic PMI-style work scope. If you’re creating a fantastically-complicated project structure, it can really help to visualize parent-child relationships. Break down each parcel of work into something more comprehensible using a WBS and make sure that no one is trying to tackle any task out of order.
- This quick guide to Work Breakdown Structures comes with a free, handy template.
- This article will help you understand what a work breakdown structure is and what it is not, the advantages of using a work breakdown structure, and how to create one. You’ll also learn how you can become confident using this powerful and essential product management tool.
- How to create a work breakdown structure and why you should.
- A guide and free template on how to come up with a killer work breakdown structure.
- When you’re defining scope, you need to make sure that you’re properly balancing costs and risks. Here are two quick ideas on how you can manage risk and analyze it while you’re scoping your project.
- It’s not easy to communicate project scope across teams to internal and external stakeholders. Here are a few examples of how to do it right. http://pmtips.net/blog-new/communicating-project-scope
- The consequences of a neglected project scope are complex, and can have wide-ranging implications. Here’s all you need to know about keeping your project scope in line with expectations.
- Building a project scope statement is a little different than building a charter — it’s often a step or two earlier. Find out why it’s worth your time and how to do it.
- Writing project scope documents in an Agile environment is pretty different than in Waterfall setups. It’s worth reading this classic (10-year-old!) article about how to do it. http://itsadeliverything.com/agile-project-scope
- Lots of project management tools let you create Gantt charts natively. If you’re not rolling with Asana, Basecamp, GitHub, JIRA, Trello, Microsoft Planner, Wrike, or any of a couple dozen other tools which support this kind of project visualization, here’s how to do it in Excel or Google Sheets, which should be accessible to just about anyone.
- Gantt charts are all well and good, but they’re pretty top-heavy and reinforce the idea that projects are fixed in duration. A kanban board lets you look at the project visually with an emphasis on what needs to be done and what has already been completed. Here’s a quick guide on how to set up a kanban board for your next project https://leankit.com/learn/kanban/kanban-board/
- Steps for planning, managing, and minimizing the dreaded project scope creep.
What to do when the scope is wrong
- How do you even know if you’ve mis-scoped a project? Here’s a detailed overview on how to troubleshoot scope problems and nip them in the bud before they derail your whole project.
- There are basically three ways to manage a scope change: Say yes, say no, or figure out a compromise. This article quickly briefs you on the pros and cons of all three.
- A primer on how to manage scope, how to decide when to change it, and what to do after you’ve decided to make a change to scope.
- When you realize that you messed up the scope of your project, you need to be very clear on how you scope the changes. Learn how to approach the problem in order to reach a clear result and communicate it clearly.
- Another quick guide to project re-scoping, this one focuses a bit more on software / IT projects with external vendors, which is its own complicated world.
- Project delivery is a mix of time, resources, and scope. Deciding which of these needs to be fixed, and which can be flexible, is key to transitioning your project management to a more Agile approach. Atlassian writes about flipping the ‘Iron Triangle’ of project management planning to get a more Agile result.
- A change management request form can be a very effective way to change a project’s scope and clarify what will be delivered. You can find a template for such a form in this post.
- Despite your best efforts, you can be halfway into a project before realizing that you need to change the scope. Usually this happens when you’re running late and need to cut scope to hit a launch window, or you discover a greater volume of work is required. Here’s how you re-scope a project in either case.
- Here are some common project management mistakes and how to address them. https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/the-10-most-common-project-management-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them.html
3. Manage delivery
- A detailed overview of the five phases of the project delivery process.
- A different take with three project delivery phases, outlined and described in detail.
- The Washington University School of Medicine shares the project delivery process they developed and implemented to serve as a roadmap for successful cost, schedule, and quality performance on projects. A great reference for project managers. https://facilities.med.wustl.edu/planning-construction/project-delivery/project-delivery-tools-and-references/
- This “Very Practical Guide to Shipping Projects Relentlessly” breaks down a project into steps and works through them individually.
- A step-by-step paper on how to increase project effectiveness.
- An explanation of the Disciplined Agile (DA) Framework.
- A project management checklist to keep you from making mistakes.
Breaking down projects into manageable components
- Learn three ways to break down a project into manageable tasks: one task per job, one task per deliverable, and one task per day, week, or month.
- How to divide a project into manageable tasks.
- Five scrum meeting best practices:
- Eleven tips for running an effective scrum meeting.
- How to make daily scrum meetings really effective and efficient.
Meeting effectiveness and efficiency
- Meetings are a powerful tool that are widely misunderstood. Here you’ll find a short example and data showing just how widespread bad meetings have become, as well as seven powerful meeting tips that will set your team up for success.
- Five activities that can transform how you run all-hands meetings.
- Rocketrip’s guide for how to do an all-hands meeting right.
Project and stakeholder communication
- PMI provides research on managing project stakeholder communication, through examining how stakeholder communication is facilitated and managed during the different phases of the project’s lifecycle.
- A detailed communication plan walkthrough, covering strategy, skills, best practices, and how to set the tone.
- A communications plan for getting your message across. Here are some tips to help you better manage key communications channels for your next project. Follow these guidelines to keep your project on time and on track. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/project-communications-a-plan-for-getting-your-message-across/
- This case study covers a ton of ground, including what communication means in a project, the major obstacles in communication and how to overcome them through sharing, and a four-step process for effective communication.
- Stakeholder engagement and stakeholder management are important ingredients for successful project delivery. Here are 10 key principles of stakeholder engagement.
- Product launches are powerful; they can modify the way business is run. Because of this power, they tend to pull in powerful stakeholders who want to be heavily involved in the project. Here’s how to coordinate them. https://www.appcues.com/blog/the-messy-politics-of-coordinating-product-launches
- A description of a simple method to boost project accountability: The RACI chart. It is one of the simplest, most effective means for defining and documenting project roles and responsibilities. Knowing exactly who is responsible, who is accountable, who needs to be consulted, and who must be kept informed at every step will significantly improve your chances of project success.
- Six ways to build accountability into a project.
- The perspective of the project manager is different than that of other team members. Here’s an article about common mistakes that PMs make, and how to prevent them. https://teamweek.com/blog/2017/04/10-mistakes-every-project-manager-makes/
- Here are some best practices for effective velocity tracking. Velocity is a measure of productivity that project managers sometimes use in Agile software development. You calculate the velocity by counting the number of units of work completed in a certain interval, which is determined at the start of the project. The main idea behind velocity is to provide a lightweight methodology for measuring the pace at which a team is working and to assist in estimating the time needed to produce additional value in a software-development project.
- What is a burndown chart? It is a plot of work remaining to reach a given goal on the vertical axis, and time on the horizontal axis. It helps you immediately identify problems and allows you to control them early. Learn how to use it and how to make one in this article.
- A simple guide to creating a project burndown chart using excel.
- Burndown charts provide a graphical representation of how work progresses with time. Here’s how to measure performance using this technique.
- What is a burnup chart and why you should use one.
- A comprehensive guide to Gantt charts. Simply put, a Gantt chart is a visual view of tasks scheduled over time. Gantt charts are used for planning projects of all sizes and they are a useful way of showing what work is scheduled to be done on a specific day. They also help you see the start and end dates of a project in one simple view.
- A beginner’s guide to Gantt charts, including five reasons to use them. https://www.wrike.com/blog/project-management-basics-beginners-guide-to-gantt-charts/
- Did you know that 57% of projects fail because of a “breakdown in communications?” Gantt charts visualize your project’s progress, helping you alleviate a host of communications-related issues that could derail things. Here’s a project manager’s guide to Gantt charts.
- The top five benefits of using Gantt charts for project management.
- How to create a waterfall chart in Google Sheets.
- How to create a waterfall chart in Excel.
- Another great guide on how to create waterfall charts in Excel.
- What the waterfall project management methodology can (and can’t) do for you.
- A comprehensive guide to confidence intervals.
- How to use confidence intervals for six sigma projects.
- One of the constant tensions faced by product managers is the need to create product roadmaps that align with the expectations and needs of all of their stakeholders — particularly the management or executive team whose understanding and agreement is essential to executing against the plan. Here’s how to get organizational alignment with your product roadmap.
- Ten great leadership skills of project management.
When it goes wrong: recovering a failing project
- How to do a project pivot and turn failure into success in three steps.
- How to pivot your digital development project to scale and sustain beyond the “Valley of Death.” https://digitalimpactalliance.org/program-strategy-pivot-project-scale-sustain-beyond-valley-death/
- A detailed pdf guide on strategies for project recovery. http://www.pmsolutions.com/
- If your project is failing, it’s often due to poor planning. Here’s how to revisit it from the start to try to fix it up for round two.
- Sometimes you get stuck cleaning up after a failed project. Sometimes it’s your fault the project failed in the first place. Here’s a tactical guide that takes you through the process of recovering a dead project. https://blog.capterra.com/4-steps-to-completely-recover-from-project-failure/
- Ten early warning signs that your project is not gonna go the way you’d like it to.
- Everyone runs into projects where you lose control of your time, resources disappear, and the project gets completely out of hand. Here’s how to regain control.
How to shut down a failed project
- Admitting project failure is never easy, but sometimes the kill decision turns out to be the best decision. Here’s how to know when to scrap and when to save a failing project.
- Not every project is destined for success. What do you do when things go pear-shaped? Smashing Mag is here to help you out.
- Sometimes the project is the whole company. Alex Fishman’s powerful and useful article walks you through the worst outcome of project failure.
- How to transition from traditional to Agile project management.
- Sales and building client relations are, or should be, an ongoing process. A follow-up meeting helps to enhance value, fortify trust, and cement the relationship. It can help you improve while differentiating you from competitors. Discover the importance of conducting a follow-up meeting.
4. Launch the project
Launch techniques and advice
- Eighteen tips for planning a flawless new product launch.
- How to plan your product launch using the RACE planning framework.
- Five critical things you need to do during a project “post-launch.”
- A step-by-step guide to a successful product launch.
- The essential guide to growing your early-stage SaaS startup
- Ready for blast off: five steps to successfully managing product launches.
- How to profitably launch ANY product or service.
- Five tips for a successful product launch.
- Milestones and metrics for product launch success.
- Six secrets of a winning product launch.
- How to create a timeline for a successful product launch.
- The essentials of product launch processes.
- How to develop and implement a successful data product launch plan.
- Three product launch campaigns and their strategies.
- The pro marketer’s product launch checklist from Moz.
Team and company alignment
- Before you can execute a new strategy, you have to align your team to this new direction. Here are a few ways to get everyone onboard.
- Launching a new B2B product impacts the majority of departments within a company. The sales team is responsible for selling it to potential buyers, the customer support team helps new and current clients successfully implement it, and the marketing and public relations team promotes it in the marketplace. In a healthy company these departments work together. Here’s how to unite your teams for a super B2B product launch plan.
Marketing and promotion
- A step-by-step guide to get your content marketing program off the ground. http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2015/03/workbook-content-marketing-program/
- The key to successful product launch.
- Twenty inexpensive ways to successfully promote your product launch.
- Seven social marketing tactics to launch a product.
- Five inexpensive ways to promote a product launch.
- Fifty-seven experts discuss key pillars for product marketing success.
- Product marketing 101: templates, strategies, and examples.
- Why every project needs a brand (and how to create one). Project leaders who embrace a brand mindset will be in a stronger position to achieve their goals and deliver on the organization’s business strategy.
- Twenty-three ways to build colossal pre-launch product buzz.
- Ten tactics for launching on social media and generating buzz, inspired by companies who’ve done it (with free templates). https://www.canva.com/learn/10-tactics-for-launching-a-product-using-social-media/
- How to use social media to hype your product pre-launch.
- The ultimate influencer marketing guide.
- Influencer marketing is going to continue to be a driving force for brands looking to grow their audience and improve sales through social media. The question is, what can you do to get the most out of influencer marketing this year? Find out.
- How to write a press release for a product.
- Elements of a good press release.
- The top 30 press release distribution tips for maximum exposure.
- How to write a press release with a free template.
- Twenty-seven things to do before you launch a new website. This checklist covers everything — from URLs to call-to-actions. https://www.link-assistant.com/news/website-launch-checklist.html
- How to perform site audits: deliverables, follow up, and implementation.
- How to launch an effective landing page for your project.
- Six foolproof ways to get your startup its first 100 customers.
- Figuring out how to acquire new customers is difficult. Use these 21 customer acquisition strategies to win new clients and add more to your bottom line. https://www.matthewbarby.com/customer-acquisition-strategies/
- How to share your product releases effectively to serve your teams, your stakeholders, and your future self.
- How to design a successful internal launch.
- Getting customers to hear, see, and remember your message through all of the noise is tough. But what about your coworkers? This post looks at some successful marketing campaigns — both external viral campaigns and powerful internal campaigns — and provides eight innovative internal comms ideas that will make your employees sit up and take notice.
Launch parties and events
- Throwing a stand-out event can generate tons of buzz. Inc. breaks down how to plan a product launch event.
- Tips for organizing a spectacular business launch party.
- Kickstarter shares insights on how to build and engage your community, make it through the “plateau” phase, and create rewards that will excite backers. The post includes relevant resources to further help you crush your Kickstarter launch.
- A step-by-step guide to launching a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Launching with no budget
- How to launch a product with no money and no customers.
- Four steps and strategies to have a seven-figure launch without a budget or a list.
- How to recover from a failed product launch.
- How to bounce back when your product launch is a disaster.
- It’s reported that 70% of all new product launches fail in the first year. The question is, why do some succeed when. others fail? One solution might be to continually pursue a minimum viable product so that your successes exceed expectations while failures sting a bit less.
- If you don’t have the right KPIs and your employees are not informed, your product will most likely fail. https://www.business.com/articles/why-your-product-will-fail/
- From Pragmatic Marketing, an article about some other common missteps in scheduling and launching projects. https://pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/articles/10-common-project-management-mistakes
Measuring launch success
- How to measure product launch success. https://community.uservoice.com/blog/measure-product-launch-success/
- Key metrics for your website redesign process.
- Moz shares 18 steps for successfully marketing and measuring a new website.
- Seven metrics to save your e-commerce re-platforming project.
- Seven steps for measuring the success of a feature.
- Similarly, how to measure the success of your product features?
- And another one on how to measure the success or failure of a product feature? https://medium.com/stellarpeers/how-would-you-measure-the-success-or-failure-of-a-product-feature-24f9d0b6f9e7
5. Wrap it up
- What’s a retrospective? Why should you run one? This helpful (and short) guide answers these questions so you can get your team up to speed.
- If you’re new to running a project retrospective, here are seven steps that will help you feel confident about what you’re doing and assist your team in staying positive as they go through the process.
- There are a number of ways to conduct retrospectives. If you’re running an Agile team, they’re likely familiar with one of these, but it’s often valuable to mix up your retrospective process every few projects so that things stay fresh. https://backlog.com/blog/three-ways-run-productive-retrospective/
- In the spirit of keeping retrospectives fresh, you can read about the “Star Fish” method or the “Five Whys” methods here. You can even conduct a retrospective of retrospectives, if you’re into that sort of thing. https://blog.versionone.com/valuable-agile-retrospectives-how-to-do-them/
- Literally an entire website devoted to fun retrospectives.
- A step-by-step walkthrough of using Trello to conduct a retrospective for your team.
- Looking for a little help to get you through your next sprint retrospective? This article provides 25 tools you can try out and use in retrospectives for distributed or co-located teams.
Applying lessons learned
- Once you’ve conducted a project retro, what’s next? Here are some steps to take to ensure your hard work wasn’t for naught. https://www.benlinders.com/2018/improve-software-quality-with-retrospectives/
- Here’s a quick podcast on how to use retrospectives to help your organization change and better itself by applying the lessons learned, re-enforcing what’s good, and celebrating wins together.
- A short primer on strategy for making sure that your retrospectives actually do lead to change in your team.
- A retrospective can lead to change in a number of ways. This in-depth article covers some of the major ones, and will spur your own thinking about how to apply the lessons learned and reinforce what your team did well.
- Applying what you’ve learned from retrospectives might require a shift in your company’s approach to culture. This article covers 10 steps which can help make that happen for your team.
- When you’re getting feedback from your team about where your project succeeded and failed, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that everyone wants the best for the company as a whole. Here’s our article about how to take constructive criticism well. https://unito.io/blog/how-to-take-constructive-criticism-well-and-why-leaders-should-embrace-it/
- A template for documenting lessons learned at the end of a project.
Larger team project reviews
- When you have a very large team, or a distributed team, you need to find alternative ways to run a retrospective. This article tackles how to hold retrospective games at scale, and find trends in data to help identify easy wins and make improvements in a teams’ organizational efficiency.
- Conducting retrospectives at the sprint or team level is pretty common. When’s the last time you conducted an organizational-level retrospective? What do you think your company might learn if they conducted one? Less.works talks about how to organize and conduct retrospectives of all kinds and put them into an organizational improvement backlog.
- Another example of a pretty big retrospective (with 65 participants), this case study shows you how Spotify conducted their retro step-by-step. It includes thoughts for improvement and next steps for the company and for their retrospective process. Getting this kind of report on a big, successful company’s development process can help you understand what to expect and how to conduct your own, regardless of the size.
Measuring success of your project as a whole
- When your project is finished, you should always be measuring customer satisfaction. Here’s a detailed look at how to construct a user survey to ask people a number of questions and find out what it is that they like and dislike about your offering.
- An in-depth article about how to conduct user research surveys to see what needs work. In-depth and detailed, it gives you all the information to need to run surveys on your user base when you’ve wrapped up a project. https://growandconvert.com/marketing/conduct-user-research-learnings/
- After a project is finished, after the team retrospective, after all of the discussions and decisions about what to do differently next time have wrapped up, it’s time to conduct a personal retrospective and see what you think you could have done better yourself. Here’s how to conduct a simple personal retro and get the most out of a period of personal reflection.
- Congrats! Your project is done — or is it? A common practice in Agile teams is to declare a “Definition of Done” to make it clear when something is finished vs. when someone has finished with their part of it. While this is often used in development practices, you can apply this same thinking to nearly any team: recruiting is not ‘done’ until the new hire has onboarded; a sales project is not ‘done’ until the money has been deposites into the bank; and so on. This article will help you define your “done.”
- Here’s another example of how you can create a collaborative definition of “done” with your team, so you can all agree on when a task is finished and move onto the next one.
Finishing a project
- You’re in the home stretch of your project and you’ve realized that you need to organize 1,122 files so that the next person who wants access to the source elements you worked on can find stuff. Gulp. What do you do? Read this article and apply it to your files to help others navigate
- A different approach more suited to handing off project files at the end of a consulting gig, here’s another way to organize and prep your project for archiving so you can find what you were looking for a year later when you want to see why you made the decision that you did. http://www.killerconsultant.com/archive/consulting101/organizing-project-data-files-and-folders/
- How to orient your teams as a project wraps up so they’re aware of what’s happening next.
- PMI-trained project managers tend to treat project wrap up as a minor task. Here’s why this is a mistake.
- It’s important to share what you’ve learned after you’ve gone through all of the effort of finishing a project and conducting your retrospective. Here’s an article on how to package up and share lessons learned across teams. https://www.strategyex.co.uk/blog/pmoperspectives/five-ways-for-project-managers-to-share-lessons-learned/
- Seeing the project as a whole can help you figure out how to close it well.
- Sometimes you need to hand off a project that you’ve been managing to someone else while it’s still underway. A simple process like the one detailed here can help you transition things smoothly
Keeping teams from burning out
- Just because you’ve finished a project doesn’t mean that there’s no stress in your life or in your teams’ lives. Take a breather, read this article, and think about how you might want to prevent burnout in your office to keep everyone refreshed for the next big thing.
- NYT bestselling book “Barking up the wrong tree” talks about the root causes of burnout and how to prevent them. As you get ready to transition from one project to another, this post is worth a read.
- How to keep your IT teams from burning out on the next project.
- Mental exercises to help you defeat stress and burnout.
- An inspirational read about the difficulty of actually finishing projects and the importance of doing it anyway. https://foundr.com/finishing-the-project/
What to do in between projects
- All too often, a project wraps up, you’ve conducted your retrospective, and then you’re on your own for a few crucial days to document lessons learned, put a bow on the project, and get ready for the next hot thing. How can you keep motivated when you’re on your own after working with a team to deliver a project? Here are some ideas.
- Taking a moment to catch your breath when you’re between projects is great. Once you’ve had a few days, here’s how to add value while you look for your next big project.
- Lifehacker presents an article on how to transition between projects without losing your groove.
- As you jump between projects, you’ve got a chance to bring fresh creativity and inspiration to the next thing you do. This article talks about how to bring creativity between projects in the same day, but it also applies to a monthly or yearly switch up.
- It can be hard to keep up the energy after a project has finished, especially if you work from home. Here are quick tips to keep you on task and focused as you bring the last stages of a project to completion after the team is finished.
- You’ve finished your project. Congratulations! Now what? Surely there’s something to do? Lifehack has some suggestions for what to do after “done.”
- The four things you must do when you’ve finished your project before you can really call it quits and hang up your project manager hat. https://www.quickbase.com/blog/four-steps-you-must-take-when-closing-your-project
Celebrating company and team wins
- When it’s all done and you’ve made the stakeholders happy, it’s time to celebrate! Here are more than a dozen fun ways to celebrate your team’s project completion together.
- Too many companies don’t take the time to celebrate the wins. A project finishes, a new product launches, and so on. Here’s a handy article about how to make sure that you build a culture that celebrates wins in your team and how that can improve delivery and focus.
- If words aren’t your strength, you may enjoy this resource of some email templates to help you thank employees. Just make sure you customize them a bit or else people will catch on super quickly that you’re copy pasting a template.
- It’s easy to only think to thank team members who pulled through in the clutch as you wrap up a project, but this guide gives you some different perspectives on how to handle thanking people for things other than, “worked 18 hours a day to finish on time.”
- With remote teams it can be hard to celebrate team wins like finishing a project, but there are ways to celebrate even when you’re not all in the same space.
- If your team has a good track record, it can be easy to make project celebrations a perfunctory “have a donut” kind of celebration. Mix it up with some other ideas from this list.
- Want to build a culture of gratitude in your team? You don’t have to wait until the end of a project to use the power of appreciation to help unite team members.
How to handle team changes at the end of a project
- When a project ends, it’s often the case that the team will change. New team members will be added, while others move onto different initiatives. Here are steps on how to manage the change so that the rest of your team stays on task and focused on the project at hand.
- While it’s generally in a team’s best interests to have a say in what kind of changes are being made in the team makeup, it’s crucial that the manager has their hands on the steering wheel. Here’s how managers can take control.
- There are definite reasons to break up a team after a project: the next project that you’ll tackle will have a different scope; maybe you want to give different teams a chance to rotate through different areas of responsibility; etc. That said, there are tons of benefits to being part of team which has worked together for years. If you don’t have to change (or add) team members for your next project, here’s a good reason not to.
- Here are some ways to prepare the team for how to onboard and deal with new team members.
- Bringing new team members into your project team can be a daunting task for both you and for the new team member. One thing which can make it a little easier for everyone concerned is to write a user manual for both yourself and for your team. The manual should document best practices like who to go to when you have questions, preferred communication channels for different types of messages, and anything else that might simplify the onboarding process.
- When you’re onboarding and building up a new team, there are some tried and true steps to getting everyone up and operational before you move on to the next project. Here are a few suggestions.
- And as you onboard a new team member, following this simple checklist will help them begin the next project on the right foot.
- The best way to help your team through an organizational change is to talk to them. Here are eight more ways to ease that transition.
- Here’s another list to make sure you’re communicating well when you talk to your team about what’s changing, how, and why.
Ideas for the next project
- You’ve wrapped up your project and now you’re on the hunt for the next thing to tackle. What should it be? Check out these idea-generators and see if they help kick start your creative juices before you start back on Section I of this article to begin the process anew.
- While this article is more about finding ideas for an actual business, they’re also great strategies for you to think about how to find the next opportunity to improve the business that you’re working at right now.
- Stuck without any great ideas? Here’s a simple grouping of strategies for how to brainstorm a cool idea for a product or project.
- If the three ideation strategies above don’t cut it, here are six more!
- If you want to get ideas from your whole team, you need a structured way to lead a brainstorm. Here are a few ways to run an awesome team brainstorm session.
- More detail about how to run a brainstorming session.
- You’ve made it all the way to the end of our 300+ tips for project management mastery! Here’s your reward for making it this far:
Before you go
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