Every project is better handled with an excellent understanding of its operational components. Without a clear operational model in place, you run the risk of overlap and neglect. If neglected, a project cannot thrive.

Likewise, if you have job overlap, it becomes very difficult to efficiently complete tasks. Not only will you be overlapping workloads, but there will often be multiple ways of doing the same thing creating an obstacle to measuring your output. It’s far better to spend extra time in planning a project, a division, or even a company mapping out the basics so that maximum output is achieved. With that said, here are a few questions to ask yourself at the beginning of any and every project regardless of scope.

What – What is the project? What are you actually trying to accomplish? Not “we’re making a bridge,” but, “we’re creating a way for pedestrians to cross the river without getting wet.” Now that you know the reason you’re working, it’s much easier to create a functional design than something more ornate that serves an entirely different purpose.

When – What level of urgency does this have? Sometimes different members of a project have different expectations on when pieces or the whole need to be completed. Without a solid understanding of when each piece needs to be delivered, your project is sure to run into some snags.

How – How is this job expected to be done, and who has responsibility for each component? Creating a system of accountability allows projects to proceed at a desired pace while also freeing resources from entering into the dreaded land of overlap. If it’s Reggie’s job to coordinate with the steel company and Carol’s job to take final inventory, then clearly stating that at the outset will prevent a bevy of potential compromised outcomes where each person tries to complete the other’s tasks.

Where – Where is the wildcard item because it’s not always necessary to define and its not limited to physical location. Perhaps all of your projects are done in-house and that’s known. What happens if there are off-site meet-ups? What happens if files are stored in different locations? Asking “where” means you always have a map for your deliverables.

Did you find this helpful? If so, you may want to explore this entire series. Watch each Wednesday for the next part of this series to emerge.