So you need to change the direction your company is traveling. Sales need to increase, problems need to decrease, quality needs to grow. You might consider using the techniques of professional project managers the next time you want to address these problems. Proper management can increase your potential for success.

First, define the project. Work environments are hectic, and it is a temptation to jump from idea to action without always taking the time to identify the goal and the steps needed to reach it.

To start defining the project, ask these questions: What is the scope of the work that needs to be done? Does everyone that will impact the project agree, or do you need to build consensus? How are you going to keep the project on its timeline? Who are the champions and stakeholders in the project? Identify the necessary time, budget, staff, missing skill sets and organizational positioning.

Next, remember that planning helps avoid chaos. Chaos can soon engulf a project. The planning phase is invaluable for uncovering opportunities and hazards as a project moves through its life cycle.

As a start, consider these factors in the planning phase: The specific tasks that make up the project; the order of tasks; potential roadblocks; and time constraints.

Make a schedule, and commit it to paper. You will also need to determine how you track your resources and costs, identify performance measures, how you maintain project quality and determine a communications plan. Identify the milestones and deliverables throughout the project.

Then, as the project gets underway, you’ll need to track it at every step. This is the part of the project where the faint of heart lose direction and where tenacity is a great asset. During this phase you compare your written plan with reality.

Check and recheck budgets. Are you where you should be or are costs running over? Is there a way to reallocate the mix of resources to bring costs back in line?

Review the allocation of work. Watch team members to see if they are overburdened. If necessary, adjust assignments and timelines.

Finally, after the project is complete, you can reflect on what you’ve learned through this process and how you can apply it to future efforts. Describe how the plan compared to the real project. Forecast how this project would impact future project planning. Maintain a project document file that can be used for future reference.

Communicate to the organization and all stakeholders of your success. Internal and external marketing can move your completed project into the limelight.

Effective project management plays an important role in an operation. By taking the proper steps to ensure that goals are met, you can improve the efficiency of your organization.