At TTA, our enthusiastic team of project managers work closely with clients every day to manage training projects and coordinate all the different workstreams to ensure overall project delivery success. Some of our corporate clients prefer to handle their own project management, so here’s a few best practices that we wanted to share with you!
There is a lot that goes into managing a project (including multiple processes you can follow, various tools you can utilize, etc.), and if you spend time researching project management best practices, several important themes emerge. Whether you are new to project management or a seasoned pro, the following tips can help you ensure a smooth and successful training delivery project.
Tip 1: Prepare
Before the kick-off of your first meeting with the project stakeholders, spend as much time as possible reviewing all relevant project information:
- Carefully review official sources of information relating to the training program such as training proposals and contracts
- Be sure to also review unofficial documents such as emails discussing project scope or rates because this can give you important context that may not have come through in the official documents
Review everything that is available to you to ensure that you understand as much as possible about the problem the project is intended to solve, the scope of the project, and the timeline and resources involved. Make a list of any questions that come to mind during your review and bring these questions to the first group discussion. The better prepared you are, the more confident you will feel about your ability to manage the project, and the more successful your project is likely to be!
Tip 2: Align and Troubleshoot
During your first meeting with the stakeholders, review the scope, timeline, budget, and any other facts you’ve gleaned from your preparations, to be sure everyone is aligned in their expectations of the project. Review the list of questions you collected and discuss as a group. Be sure to allow each participant time to bring their own questions forward and obtain answers from the group.
It is important to identify any potential risks from your perspective and encourage the same from the other participants. This is a great time to mitigate as much risk as possible! The following list details a few risks commonly associated with training projects. If you identify any of these relating to your project, be sure to discuss them as a group and brainstorm solutions together.
- Assigned deadline does not allow enough time for the project work to be completed
- Holidays and vacation time for key participants was not considered when the timeline was outlined
- Training content was thought to be final but upon review needs revision
Tip 3: Communicate
Don’t be afraid to overcommunicate throughout the project and do your best to create a respectful environment where people feel safe expressing questions and concerns. Support participants’ engagement by checking in with each person during meetings to give them the opportunity to raise questions and respond to discussion points.
It is important to communicate progress at regular intervals, such as during weekly project team meetings. Check in separately with primary stakeholders and the working group to be sure that each has a safe space to provide honest feedback and express any concerns. Raise any risks or concerns that need the group’s attention in the team setting.
At TTA, we utilize a robust communication plan for our projects that includes:
- Weekly project team meetings involving the core group
- Weekly or bi-weekly check-in meetings between the project manager and the primary stakeholder to ensure quality and overall satisfaction
- Weekly check-in meetings between the project manager and the working team for status checks, risk management, and quality assurance
- Escalation meetings (if needed) to quickly loop in people outside of the core project team to problem-solve if major risks or issues are identified
Tip 4: Closure
Capturing feedback following the project’s completion is vital to ensuring continuous improvement. Many project teams want to wrap up the current project and move quickly to their next responsibility, so set the expectation early on that a retrospective or “lessons learned” meeting will take place after project closure. Remember to give the team a few days to collect their thoughts prior to the meeting so they can come prepared to share.
Meet as a group with the purpose of sharing feedback to:
- Identify what went well and then replicate it for your next project
- Recognize what can be improved upon for the next project
- Identify anything that the group should stop doing for next time
- Establish a process to document these lessons and implement needed changes in the future
Utilizing these best practices during your next employee training project will help to ensure that all team members are aligned in their expectations of the project, that there are clear lines of communication, risks are identified and mitigated, and the project has a solid foundation for success!
Rebecca Winn is a TTA Learning & Development Project Manager who manages corporate training projects for our clients. Learn more about TTA’s project management and how we can help support your training initiatives.