A Strong Start: Best Practices for the First Weeks of Your New Project

The world of projects and consulting offers diverse opportunities for project professionals to experience various industries, teams, approaches, and cutting-edge technologies.

Starting a new role or working on a new project can be both exciting and daunting. It’s an opportunity to showcase your skills and make a positive impact, but it also requires careful planning and preparation to ensure success.

Read on for useful tips on how to start off strong and make the most of those early, critical weeks.

Develop a solid understanding of the project’s goals and objectives

Learning new names, ways of work and piecing together a puzzle of information and workflows. Regardless of your background or exposure to the world of projects, the first few weeks of starting on a new project are often overwhelming as you try to onboard, process and digest information.

To work around getting caught up in the weeds, ensure you have a solid and documented understanding of the project’s goals, objectives as well as your role in contributing towards these. It’s essential to ask questions and clarify any uncertainties to ensure that you have a clear understanding of what is expected of you.

Be Proactive

As a Project Professional, you are perceived to be an expert in your field of specialisation. Don’t sit in the passenger seat; be proactive in identifying areas where you can add value and take initiative. By carefully analysing problems and risks and playing back proposed solutions to your team, risks can be mitigated and opportunities seized.

Manage your time effectively

Time management is crucial when working on a project. As a contract employee, you will be expected to manage and keep a timesheet of the hours worked. As a contracting model usually works on an hours worked, hours paid model, it is important to log and manage your working hours. Plan your workday to ensure that you have enough time to complete your tasks, meet deadlines, and attend meetings. Prioritise your work based on importance and urgency.

Updating your timesheet daily, as opposed to weekly or monthly is best practice as doing this retrospectively can be challenging and not the best use of time.

Set Realistic Goals

While you might want to prove your capabilities and impress your team early on, beware not to overcommit yourself. Set realistic deadlines for each task (if these have not been pre-defined) or agree these with your team to sense check dependencies etc., and regularly review your progress to ensure that you’re on track.

Transparency and Communication

Communication is key to the success of effective teaming and collaboration, as well as to the success of any project. If you come across a hurdle, discover a critical dependency, or conflicting requirements, share and discuss potential solutions or workaround with project team members. Regularly checking in and providing updates also ensures you and your team are aligned.

Build relationships and collaborate

As a project professional, building strong relationships based on trust and respect is essential for the success of the project. Take the time to get to know your colleagues and stakeholders and work collaboratively towards achieving project goals. Projects are a collaborative effort and cannot be successfully completed in isolation.

By following these tips, you can start out strong and set yourself up for success when taking on a new role on a project. Remember to stay focused, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively towards achieving project goals. We often overcomplicate what we set out to do but if we stick to some very simple and practical habits, such as planning and preparation, we can make a positive, lasting impact and pave the way for successful and consistent delivery in projects and in our careers.