Three Steps to Planning a Project
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Benjamin Franklin was right – at the very least, when it comes to team design and development projects.
Come on, NoBorder, what’s the fun in planning everything? We agree when it comes to weekends or movies, but in the realm of design and development, the creation, testing, iterations, and upkeep of apps and websites involves so many granular details and myriad files, that failing to corral workflow can quickly lead to disaster.
Add multiple members of a project, especially in a freelance setting — and disorganization can sink your ship.
Here at NoBorder, planning for every project consists of three fundamental steps — and it works. No matter who is on your team, or where they are located, following these steps in order can help streamline your team project process now and down the road.
Here are the three steps you need to take to achieve team project planning success:
Step 1: Gather Your Resources and Establish HQ: Once your team or project leader is assigned, he or she will need to gather all project briefs, files, and accompanying resources to one “headquarters” site, where all elements of the project can be easily added and received, anytime, anywhere.
Google Docs and Google Calendar are popular in the design and dev community because they’re free, easy to use, integrate with other tools, and allow team leaders to schedule meetings in a flash. At $29 per month, Basecamp is one of our favorite choices for keeping all materials in one easy to access, easy to view place. From intuitive to-do lists to easy file adds and collaboration, Basecamp 3 is an affordable design and development Swiss army knife.
Once your team is set up with the proper support and project resources, you can begin to connect and kick things off.
Step 2: Connect Your Team and Kick Things Off: Schedule a kick-off meeting to get to know everybody on your remote team, divide the tasks, present the plan, and hash out the deadline. Here are a few of our favorite tools to accomplish this goal:
Slack – Slack is a good-looking, easy-to-use chat tool available on your laptop or smartphone. While it’s free, and even allows you to add desktop notifications, it can affect the performance of your computer if you have too many windows open.
If you like the other Google tools you’re working with, Google Hangouts is one of the most intuitive chat choices, and it’s free for up to 10 people in one conversation. If your team is bigger and you don’t want to pay, you can circumnavigate the rules by dividing the group into two – but don’t tell Google we told you so!
An additional advantage to this strategy is two groups may make a big team’s communication easier, especially if you work with an international team with varied native languages.
Step 3: Complete the Project Successfully: Now that you’re set up with your project details, files, and everyday communication, it’s time to refine team communication workflow to command a 360-degree view of what people are working on, ensuring that no two members are working on the same thing. It’s also important to have the resources to check if every element of the project brief is clear, and that there are no problems, challenges, miscommunications, or uncertainties.
Here are our additional tips for Completing the Project Successfully:
- There’s no need to use Google Hangout and video conferences if you don’t want to pay for project management software. Instead, you can use Slack or publish posts on a team blog. It’s about what works for your team and its budget — as long as you stay organized and in the loop!
- It’s crucial to track time to make sure that everything goes according to plan, so you have the wiggle room to react and move the deadline if it’s necessary. Tools like Toggl.com can help you keep track of team member time.
- Make sure everyone knows how to utilize the communication and project management tools before you begin the project. There’s nothing more frustrating than scheduling a Basecamp or Slack tutorial mid-flow.
- Everyone should get a clear list of his or her tasks — and it’s best if it’s prioritized. JIRA only costs $10 for a small team (up up 10 users) and Pivotal Tracker is free for up to three collaborators in a startup.
Do you have any additional tips for your fellow remote designers and developers on how to best manage a project? What about Software? Are there any additional tools you recommend?
It is undeniable that working remotely benefits employees as well as employers. From technology gurus to those who are writers, freelancing truly benefits everyone involved.
Remote-based development and design teams certainly possess advantages: an ability to hire professionals in a variety of geographic locations, the opportunity to employ a workforce around the clock, and a vast, global knowledge of marketplaces and people are just a few. However, the failure to realize the distinct challenges that may arise from your remote team’s cultural differences may eventually lead to a virtual bottleneck to project completions – and business growth.
We all know how difficult it can be to properly onboard a remote employee. One little slip and you run the risk of leaving them isolated, reluctant to communicate or collaborate even when faced with a problem. At the same time, this puts you under a lot of stress as you need to take the time to ensure that they are properly integrated into the company culture.