If I give you 90 days to complete a project, but don’t hand you a checklist, chances are the project won’t be completed. A project without clear deliverables is a green light to surf the web all day. It doesn’t have the teeth to get anything concrete done, and leaves you without direction. Given such a project, most people will simply say, “I’ll do what I can,” and then do almost nothing. I’ve seen it happen.
Consider making your goals measurable in some way. Find a way to boil them down to simple numbers. Example: this new feature will let us process 1,500 new transactions per day. Or, the new system will let 1,000 new customers to submit service requests. Don’t just say, “make it better.” Make it measurable instead.
Make it quick
Giving arbitrary timeframes like 90 or 180 days without milestones is foolish. Some people will believe they have all the time in the world, and wait until the night before to start. Remember cramming? That’s the mode most many people work in. Instead, tighten in the deliverable dates, and let the project go late, if necessary. That tends to keep people on task.
Make it simple
Don’t try to boil the ocean. It never works. Simple, foundational projects work best. If they are completed to your satisfaction, you can build upon them later.
Now you can roll your eyes (like I do) when you hear, “it’ll be finished in 90 days.”