Most project teams have a standard repertoire of projects they execute on a regular basis. With a few variations here and there, your routine may consistent mostly of developing new software or retooling manufacturing processes. But companies occasionally encounter firsts—bringing their debut product to market, for example, or adding a function they haven’t supported before.
What should you do if you’re facing an entirely new kind of project? Your team may not have the right expertise in-house to execute efforts outside your wheelhouse. What kind of assistance are you likely to need and where can you find it? We’ve put together some tips to help PMs successfully move an unfamiliar type of project from planning to completion.
1 – Tap into industry experience.
No matter the type of new project you have on the horizon, there are sure to be an array of industry-specific issues you’ll soon encounter. These may be related to regulatory requirements or legal obligations. They might be unique to the marketplace—the competitors you’ll face or the customer demographics that will purchase your products or services. You may need to comply with new sets of standards or requirements that govern advertising and stipulate how hiring is conducted. Most industries even have their own terminology.
An expert with experience in the industry can be a valuable asset. They’ll have information about working with regulatory agencies and any organizations that manage code enforcement. Your team will benefit from their knowledge on engaging potential customers and identifying qualified leads. An industry partner can also point you to additional resources, such as industry or trade groups, employment experts, and consultants in the marketing and legal fields.
2 – Leverage regional knowledge.
Will you be entering a market in a new part of the world? You may be facing an unfamiliar set of cultural norms or a slew of confusing language barriers. The way your organization approaches everything from interacting with customers to presenting materials to government representatives will be dictated by local procedures, which are probably vastly different from how you’ve worked through past projects in your existing territory.
A partner with experience working in your new region can offer valuable insight into understanding local laws and how they may impact your project. They will have knowledge of the territory’s marketplace and its nuances. They can also put you in touch with local vendors, such as translators, housing and workforce providers, logistics experts (shipping and customs issues are common concerns), and even instructors who can educate your organization on the area’s culture and history.
3 – Find an expert with strategic experience.
Every project needs to return some sort of value to the organization. A unique project likely has benefits that are of critical importance at the executive level. The organization’s leadership team may have made commitments to customers or investors based on the results the project is expected to deliver, such as product launch dates or timeframes for increased manufacturing capabilities. Other projects—mergers, acquisitions, and expansions, among them—may be directly tied to the company’s long-term competitive strategy. Understanding how each achievable translates into measurable value can sometimes be difficult, but it’s crucial to success.
A consultant with a history of moving large and complex strategic projects to completion can offer your team important direction and insight. They will have experience identifying, assessing, vetting, and mitigating potential risks that could derail critical-path activities. Their expertise can also give your organization a leg up on developing a workable project charter, along with a schedule that maintains a focus on the results that are of primary interest to those in the C-suite.