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Project Setup Steps: Create your project in 9 steps

Determining the steps required for project preparation may seem like a daunting task for some, especially if this is their first project. However, if we let go of our anxieties, we will find that most of the fundamental steps for project preparation become apparent to the owner in a clear manner.

Project Setup Steps: Create your project in 9 steps
Project Setup Steps: Create your project in 9 steps

Of course, the preparation steps may differ between projects depending on the field of each project. Nevertheless, the main steps, such as defining the project's objective and target audience, remain fundamental steps for any project, regardless of its specialization or even its target market.

In this article, we elucidate the most important steps for project preparation in a practical and simplified manner, enabling you to transform your project from a dream to a reality with ease.

1. Determine the objective of your project.

The goal-setting phase is considered one of the most crucial steps in project preparation, as it lays the foundation upon which the entire project will be built. The objective here refers to a broad scope that encompasses what you aim to achieve through this project and the means by which you will rely on to achieve this objective.

Let us assume that you wish to create a project based on providing an electronic payment service for bills and purchases through a digital application. Here, the objective of your project is not to create the application itself, but rather to provide a means that can be relied upon as an electronic payment method.

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Here, we can consider the application as a means to achieve the goal of your project or to help you transform your goal into a tangible tool. Your goal should assist your clients in improving their lives in one way or another.

The purpose of your application is to save time and effort required in traditional payment methods, thereby achieving the goal of your project, which is to facilitate the lives of your clients. Do not burden yourself with complicating this goal, which should be the epitome of simplicity.

Remember that most successful companies around the world were built around simple and direct goals. Goals such as providing information, entertainment, or facilitating the lives of individuals are the most common goals of any project.

The importance of defining the goal lies in the fact that it outlines the path that all other steps of your project should follow. In other words, do not take any step that does not serve the primary or secondary goal of your project.

Finally, beware that your primary goal is not to collect money or accumulate wealth, as this will have a negative impact on your project. Through your project, you should strive to achieve a goal that benefits a specific group of individuals first and profits second.

Turning the goal of your project into achieving profits only will direct most of your ideas towards this goal and neglect the real requirements of your clients.

2. Determine the means of achieving your goal

In the previous example, we chose an electronic application as the means by which to achieve the goal of your project. However, the means could be anything else, as it is the means upon which your project will depend to improve the lives of your customers, and it could be a product or a service.

Determining the means is what draws the roadmap for your project and how you can classify it. Usually, the step of determining the means to achieve the goal of your project branches off into sub-steps related to how to obtain this means, which varies from one project owner to another.

Two people may aim to achieve one goal, but each of them has a preference and vision regarding how to achieve this goal. Let us assume that there are two individuals who aim to provide food products at an affordable price. One of them may establish an online store, while the other may rent a physical store.

Of course, each option to achieve the goal branches off into other options, and each project owner chooses the means that suits them. Anyone who has even a basic knowledge of e-commerce may lean towards the idea of creating an online store rather than renting or buying a physical store.

This brings us to an important element in the process of determining the means to achieve the goal, which is your level of knowledge of this means. This level should not reach the degree of specialization (although this would certainly be useful), but it is preferable to have a basic knowledge of this field.

The owner who intends to create an online store needs to understand the basics of this store and how it works. Of course, he does not need to know how to create the store itself, but understanding its mechanisms is necessary, as it leads to the rest of the steps of preparing the project.

3. Analysis of the process of creating a means of achieving the goal

The purchase of a store or the creation of a website or application are operations that cannot be completed without a thorough analysis of their requirements and stages. Typically, there are two methods for analyzing the requirements of the means that will be relied upon to achieve the project's goal.

The first method relies on the existence of certain financial resources that can be used to create the means within their framework. In other words, if someone has a certain amount of money that they want to use to create a project, the stages of creating the means are analyzed based on the available amount.

Of course, the available amount may or may not be sufficient for the stages of implementing the means, and external funding sources may be used. However, this method remains common among individuals who want to create a specific project and have a suitable amount of money (even if it is only partially sufficient to create this project).

The second method relies on analyzing the process of creating the means without the availability of financial coverage. Sometimes this method is relied upon even with financial coverage, as it provides greater freedom in thinking and does not tie the stages of implementation to financial constraints.

That is to say, regardless of the method that will be relied upon to analyze the process of creating the means, it is expected that this method will result in the following:

  • Options for creating the means and the cost of each (buying or renting... building an online store or using a ready-made store, and so on).
  • An initial estimate of the number of individuals required to complete the project.
  • Discussion of the details of advertising the product or service offered by the project and choosing the appropriate marketing channels for it.
  • An initial estimate of the project budget.
  • Determining the period required to prepare the project supplies.
  • Determining a trial operating period for the project.
  • Determining an initial start date for the project in actuality.

The order of some of the above steps may differ from one project owner to another, and a step or two may even be added depending on the nature of the project. For example, conducting a feasibility study is considered one of the useful steps in preparing the project, but some may skip it as it requires considerable time and resources.

In general, the analysis of the process of creating the means aims to reach several smaller processes that can be easily distributed and completed.

04 - Study of market conditions and competition

Some project management experts disagree on the placement of this step. Some believe that its placement in the same order as the steps of our proposed project is best, while others argue that conducting it after defining the project's goal and means is more appropriate.

In my personal opinion, the execution of this step and its impact on the remaining steps depends on its intended purpose. Some project owners may already have experience or knowledge of the market they intend to enter even before conducting this study.

Whether this experience stems from their work in the field in another project or from general interest, this team considers market research as a process of transforming facts they already know into real-world figures that can be relied upon during project structuring.

On the other hand, there is a team that uses market research to assess the project's ability to compete. Here, the decision to implement the project depends on the preparedness for competition, the ability to face it, and engage in it.

A project owner may believe that they can compete and gain a market share due to their capabilities and advantages. Another project owner may perceive difficulties in entering this market or competing in it, prompting them to completely change the direction of their project or abandon its implementation altogether.

Note that the entire matter is subject to a large number of variables, such as the nature of the market itself. Some product and service markets contain gaps that encourage project owners to penetrate and enter them because the gap indicates that competitors have not been able to fully meet customer demand.

Furthermore, the features and strengths possessed by each project are fundamental factors in enhancing the project's ability to compete. Of course, we should not overlook the project's flaws and weaknesses, which play a crucial role in influencing the decision to enter into competition.

After conducting a detailed study of the market and the supply and demand situation for your project's product, it is preferable to perform a comprehensive SWOT analysis. This analysis, known as Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats, aims to clarify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats available to any project. The timing of completing this analysis does not make a significant difference as long as it is done before starting the actual steps of project preparation or incurring any costs.

5. Determining the temporal framework for project preparation

Did the market study results favor your project, and do you wish to proceed to the actual project preparation phase? Excellent! Now is the time to outline the temporal framework for project preparation and its various stages.

The temporal framework refers to the duration required for each step of the project. It is essential to specify a defined time period and start and end dates for the individual processes we have reached at point number 3.

For instance, let us assume that you will commence the search for a location for your project. This implies that you must establish the duration of the search and determine when it will commence and conclude. While it is true that certain steps may exceed their designated time frame due to special circumstances, having a framework itself is necessary.

Without setting a temporal framework, you will be unable to measure the time it took to execute a particular step, or whether this time was excessive or appropriate.

The presence of a framework will provide you with an indicator through which you can measure this deviation and its impact on the overall project timeline.

It is expected that each stage or step of project preparation has a reasonable temporal framework that corresponds to the nature of the step. Additionally, it is preferable to divide each temporal framework into smaller components, as this will increase the rate of progress for each step.

6. Dividing the project tasks into smaller tasks

In the previous step, we were advised to divide the time frame for each phase into smaller parts. This can be done more effectively by dividing the tasks themselves. Do not worry about exaggerating in dividing each task into several smaller tasks; it will not harm your project as long as each task has its own timeframe.

The importance of dividing tasks into smaller ones also lies in clarifying the requirements of each step of project preparation. For example, a task like creating an online store may initially seem simple and can be classified as a single task, but in reality, it consists of several tasks.

Let's assume that you have decided to create an online store yourself. This will entail dividing the task of creating the store into other subtasks such as:

  1. Choosing the store name.
  2. Choosing the company from which you will purchase hosting and a domain.
  3. Selecting the platform through which you will build your online store, such as WordPress or Wix.
  4. Installing e-commerce plugins like WooCommerce.
  5. Selecting the companies that will provide payment, shipping, and delivery methods.

In fact, the aforementioned tasks are part of a whole, and in general, the number of tasks increases according to the nature of the project and its execution. Also, note that each task from the aforementioned tasks can be further divided into smaller tasks and stages. You may see this as excessive, but that is not true.

Choosing the store name should be done carefully because it will accompany your store throughout its operation (as well as the project name). The company you rely on for choosing hosting can be a factor in increasing or losing your customers if you do not take enough time to study this field.

So, what is the ideal limit for dividing tasks or when does one go overboard in dividing tasks? The answer varies from one project to another. Your knowledge of the main project tasks and subtasks also affects the division of each task. Finally, time plays an important role in the division.

The best way to divide tasks correctly is to conduct a mini-study for each main task. This can be easily accomplished by selecting a person knowledgeable about the task they will undertake, or at least someone who can quickly familiarize themselves with its details.

Assign this person to conduct a quick research on the task they will handle and ask them to determine the minimum and maximum duration in which they can complete this task. Now, with a little discussion, you can determine the appropriate timeframe for implementing this task in line with your overall project schedule.

Of course, you can divide the tasks yourself if you are going to undertake them, but this may come at the expense of your concentration and effort. You can also rely on your partners in dividing the tasks, especially if you have more than one partner, and each of them is responsible for executing a specific task in the project.

Finally, there are several applications that you can rely on to divide your main project tasks or even those that emerge from them, such as:

  • Trello
  • ClickUp
  • Asana
  • Google Tasks

These applications provide the ability to divide tasks, assign responsible individuals for their execution, and specify the duration of each task. The applications are suitable for most project domains. However, if you are looking for the easiest application that reminds you of the tasks required of you, Google Tasks is suitable for that purpose.

7. Project Partner Selection

The process of selecting project partners undergoes a varied sequence from one project owner to another. Some project owners seek partners immediately after conceiving the project idea, while others prefer to choose partners after conducting market research or identifying the fundamental stages of the project.

Certain project owners already have partners either during the project preparation steps or prior to that. These partners could be former colleagues or acquaintances familiar with your project domain, or even a close relative involved in a similar venture.

There is always that friend or relative whom you consult regarding the execution of a specific project idea, and they encourage you to pursue it, becoming a partner. However, there are several factors to consider when selecting a project partner.

The paramount aspect to consider when choosing your project partner is the benefit they will bring to you. As humans, we sometimes tend to seek friends who will share crucial milestones in our lives, including projects. However, choosing a partner solely based on friendship may lead to significant future complications.

The ideal partner for your project should provide an essential element to it, whether tangible assets such as:

  • Real estate.
  • Machinery.
  • Project premises.
  • Financial resources.

Additionally, the partner may contribute their expertise in a specific field such as management, technology, or marketing. All the aforementioned aspects represent excellent forms of support that partners can offer to your project. Nevertheless, it is essential to evaluate each of these factors and determine their relevance to your project.

Merely possessing a location does not guarantee it is suitable for your project headquarters. The machinery may not be in appropriate working condition or may be unrelated to your project's core operations. Even the financial amount should be proportionate to the actual requirements of your project; otherwise, it becomes mere debt.

Expertise, such as marketing and advertising, should be within the realm of your project or a related field; otherwise, its significance diminishes for your venture.

The best approach to selecting the right partner for you is to determine the general partnership requirements for your project.

Do you need partners who can provide financial resources? What are the specific requirements? Are you seeking partners who can manage or execute your project? What are the specific areas in which they should be specialized? And so on.

Lastly, it is important to broaden your perspective on partner selection to include institutions, organizations, and banks. All of these entities can provide strong financial resources and scientific expertise, sometimes even both.

8. Selection of Project Personnel

The intended meaning here is that the project personnel refers to the work team, which is different from the partners. While the partners commit to providing financial or logistical support, which affects various aspects of the project to varying degrees, the role of the project personnel is limited to carrying out tasks in a specific aspect of the project.

In other words, the project personnel are those who will be responsible for implementing the core objectives of the project after it has moved beyond the construction phase. Most projects rely on traditional recruitment processes to search for and select individuals who form the workforce for these projects, and this is the optimal approach.

Once again, try to avoid selecting personnel based on prior knowledge, kinship, or any form of favoritism. What individuals should have in common with the partners is the benefit they can provide to the project and their mastery of the required skills to perform the tasks assigned to them.

The traditional recruitment process often relies on the following steps to find the most suitable person for each available role or position:

  • Identifying available positions or tasks.
  • Defining the responsibilities of each position.
  • Determining the mental capacities and cognitive (and sometimes educational) requirements for each position.
  • Preparing test questions for applicants.
  • Crafting individual job announcements or a comprehensive advertisement for all available positions.
  • Choosing the means to be relied upon in the search for the desired individuals for the available positions.
  • Reviewing the resumes of the applicants.
  • Interviewing and testing the applicants.
  • Settling on the suitable individuals for each position.

The winds do not always blow in favor of the ships, in other words, you may need to repeat the aforementioned steps more than once to obtain the right people for your project. Nevertheless, this is the best method through which you can find the suitable person for each task in your project.

Furthermore, you will need to train the individuals you have selected to perform the tasks in your project, regardless of their practical experience. These individuals should ideally be trained on the tasks they will be performing in your project and how to collaborate with each other in the work environment.

Recruitment and training are important tasks that should not be underestimated, and it is preferable to rely on specialized companies in this field to carry them out if possible. Of course, you can participate in the recruitment process or even carry it out entirely yourself, but this is not the best method through which to execute this task.

In addition to saving time and effort, assigning the recruitment task to a specialized company or companies has other important benefits. Companies specialized in this field will rely on objectivity in selecting individuals, and their experience will help them accurately screen the candidates.

However, if circumstances force you to carry out the recruitment process yourself, make sure to involve one of your partners who has experience in this field. Follow the same aforementioned steps if possible, and let your final judgment be objective, without irrational bias or preference.

9. Choosing the Execution Method

Parallel or Sequential? This is the question. Some project owners prefer to accomplish their project tasks in parallel to save time, while others prefer executing tasks sequentially based on their importance, timing, and, of course, their role in relation to other tasks.

In truth, each method has its advantages and disadvantages directly related to the nature of the project itself. For example, you cannot purchase goods that you will sell before having a warehouse or even a project headquarters.

Of course, you don't need to have a physical location if your project is an e-commerce store operating on a drop-shipping system. The best approach to task execution in such a case is the one that benefits from the advantages of both methods.

You can execute tasks that are not directly related to each other in parallel alongside the tasks that must be sequentially executed. Additionally, you can divide the sequentially required tasks into smaller tasks that can be executed in parallel.

Generally, the goal of following a specific approach is to save time and effort, and executing tasks in parallel achieves that adeptly.

In conclusion,

we have attempted in this article to introduce you to the important steps of project preparation. The sequence of the aforementioned steps may vary from one project owner to another, and this is natural. In fact, there are globally successful projects that did not rely on all of these steps.

In other words, there is no single equation for success or a specific sequence of project preparation steps that can be relied upon in all projects.

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