Planning

Setting Goals, Designing & Tailoring Projects

Project planning provides clear goals, deliverables, and key midpoints along the journey. It provides a step by step framework to guide decision making and action.

(banner photo: Dr. Joan Bottorff, UBC Okanagan Campus, and Cathy Adair, Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon Division, at a planning meeting.)

Planning
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Shaping The Work

Successful bridge construction comes from detailed blueprints that bring together the accumulated knowledge and skills of many different professionals and sectors. A collaborative works in the same way, enabling different sectors and varying expertise to coalesce effectively. Planning requires forethought, experience and significantly heightens chances for successful outcomes. Imagine building a bridge without a blueprint!

Setting Goals and Defining Success

Now is the time to identify concrete goals and criteria that will guide the project. Following are some strategies that can be employed to aid partners in determining project goals.

Define Project Scope

Define realistic and attainable project requirements which represent the goals of the partners and take into account the external environment and resource limitations. Consideration should be given so that any products (e.g., research publications, health brochures) that will result from the project benefit all team members.

Develop a Project Timeline or Agenda

Develop a mutually agreeable project timeline with long and short-term goals. This facilitates priority setting and allows all partners to prepare for future resource needs.

Set Specific Objectives

Once the team has defined success, set a final goal; be concrete and realistic. A realistically achievable goal promotes optimism and focus.

Define Success and Success Indicators

Seek agreement on what project success looks like. This will help determine group deliverables within the project scope and will enable project evaluation.

Word to the Wise

Beware of “scope creep”, work that begins to expand beyond the project’s original vision and boundaries. Clear goals can help keep the shared vision in alignment.

Stories and Sharing

Ideally, teams would set their own timelines for implementing a project – one that works for them. However, as this was also a research project there were pre and post program surveys to consider and the research project did dictate timelines for partner organizations. We had to manage this potential conflict of interest to the benefit of both the research evaluation and achieving the goals of the project. Open communication between all our stakeholders resulted in a project that really worked.

Here are some strategies to facilitate planning.
(hover over the strategies below)

Ensure Mutual Development

Mutual development of the project promotes ownership and opportunities to share knowledge and skills. This in turn supports capacity building for future collaboration. Shared contributions create shared results!

Examine Similar Projects or Programs

Examining other evidence-based models can assist with determining effective approaches, allocating project resources, and overcoming project challenges.

Involve Stakeholders

Involving stakeholders in the planning and implementation of programming can help boost legitimacy, contribute to program tailoring, and reduce environmental barriers to implementation.

Agree on Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Be open and clear on what is expected from teams and individuals. Make timelines and other planning documents accessible to all. Developing a detailed breakdown of partner member roles, ensures shared responsibility for the project.

Here are some strategies to facilitate planning.

Ensure Mutual Development

Mutual development of the project promotes ownership and opportunities to share knowledge and skills. This in turn supports capacity building for future collaboration. Shared contributions create shared results!

Examine Similar Projects or Programs

Examining other evidence-based models can assist with determining effective approaches, allocating project resources, and overcoming project challenges.

Involve Stakeholders

Involving stakeholders in the planning and implementation of programming can help boost legitimacy, contribute to program tailoring, and reduce environmental barriers to implementation.

Agree on Clear Roles and Responsibilities

Be open and clear on what is expected from teams and individuals. Make timelines and other planning documents accessible to all. Developing a detailed breakdown of partner member roles, ensures shared responsibility for the project.

Things to Keep in Mind

Click on the tabs to view these important factors…..

plan-things-icon1Communication

A communication strategy helps ensure information is shared and reinforces accountability. Open communication channels give team members the opportunity to share challenges, limitations, new ideas, and feedback. Regularly sharing updates about the project with members of the partner organizations not on the project team (especially senior leadership, funders, and communications personnel) can also help to ensure ongoing support for project activities.

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Virtual Environment

For some projects it can be difficult to get all team members in one place. Taking advantage of virtual technologies such as teleconference or web meeting software can enhance project communication.

plan-things-icon3Project Management

Select software and technology and allocate administrative resources to the creation and maintenance of a project plan. Consider each organization’s policies when choosing project management tools (e.g., where do they need to store their data). Allow access to team members where applicable.

plan-things-icon4Meeting Facilitation

Productive meetings that are inclusive of all members’ input are necessary to keep members engaged over time. Effective agendas, action-item focused meeting notes, and a leader or chair with solid facilitation skills all contribute to productive meetings.

Things to Keep in Mind

Click on the tabs to view these important factors…..

plan-things-icon1Communication

A communication strategy helps ensure information is shared and reinforces accountability. Open communication channels give team members the opportunity to share challenges, limitations, new ideas, and feedback. Regularly sharing updates about the project with members of the partner organizations not on the project team (especially senior leadership, funders, and communications personnel) can also help to ensure ongoing support for project activities.

plan-things-icon2Virtual Environment

For some projects it can be difficult to get all team members in one place. Taking advantage of virtual technologies such as teleconference or web meeting software can enhance project communication.

plan-things-icon3Project Management

Select software and technology and allocate administrative resources to the creation and maintenance of a project plan. Consider each organization’s policies when choosing project management tools (e.g., where do they need to store their data). Allow access to team members where applicable.

plan-things-icon4Meeting Facilitation

Productive meetings that are inclusive of all members’ input are necessary to keep members engaged over time. Effective agendas, action-item focused meeting notes, and a leader or chair with solid facilitation skills all contribute to productive meetings.

Useful Tools

Community Engagement

Living Lab: Sharing Our Experience

Collaboration can happen in many different contexts. The Harmonization Project focused on northern and rural/remote regions and included team members from many different locations. As a result, planning and organization of meetings between partners, meeting minutes, administration, and sharing of resources were necessary considerations.

A really unique part of our project was the vast area that we’re working within. British Columbia is nearly four times the size of Britain and bigger than every US state except Alaska. As a full team, we could only meet in person once or twice a year. We had to maximize the use of technology in order to have a shared document filing system, co-ordinate teleconferences, share notes and ideas, and we all had to have internet and online capabilities, no matter how remote our team members were..

This is scenery overlooking Hazelton, BC Canada.