With a new year comes the sense of a fresh start. We’ve wrapped up the holiday season, got some rest, and are getting back to the office this week. As we begin the year, your church may have several projects in the queue.

Facility maintenance, software changes, new equipment installation, or perhaps a new building are all possible projects. As you prepare to launch these initiatives, consider these tips for setting the team up for success from the start.

Tip No. 1: Define the Scope

Every project faces scope creep — the inevitable “let’s add this on” phenomenon. To have a successful project, you need a defined finish line. Scope creep causes delays, bust the budget, and frustrate the team.

To reduce the likelihood of scope creep, define and document the scope of the project before you get started. A defined scope also helps the team (and anyone who asks) know what’s included in the project. Make sure this documented scope answers the following questions:

  • What are we trying to accomplish with this project?
  • When we complete the project, what will we look back on to determine if we were successful?
  • What is specifically included in the project?
  • What is specifically excluded from the project?

Tip No. 2: Approve a Budget

Once you have a set project scope, you’ll need to determine the budget. You might have to scale back the scope if the budget isn’t sufficient to accomplish what you’d initially planned. A high-level budget likely was approved to get the project started, but you may need to fine-tune it before moving forward.

Tip No. 3: Clarify Roles

It’s rare to have a project team where anyone on the team is 100% dedicated to the project. Typically, everyone already has a regular set of responsibilities they must handle before fitting in any project work. To help the team work efficiently and effectively together, each person needs to know their role (and the roles of others).

Create a documented job description for each project team member’s role. Review it with them and make those job descriptions available to the team. Ensuring everyone knows what leadership expects from them for this project (and what’s expected of others) helps prevent unmet expectations and confusion regarding who is responsible for what.

Tip No. 4: Establish Deadlines

Whether it’s an immovable deadline such as Easter Sunday or one that’s internally set (such as moving into a new building), you’ll need to set smaller deadlines leading up to the final one. Determine when the team must complete key milestones (installing the new software, ordering new equipment, getting final approval on the stage design, etc.). Consult with the team to set these dates, then hold them accountable along the way to meeting them.

What happens too often is that the team is held responsible for the big, immovable deadline but not for the incremental deadlines along the way. That leads to a last-minute scramble that exhausts the team and hurts their effectiveness. Instead, make sure the team meets the smaller deadlines to avoid working late nights the week before the big deadline.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of what to do to help your project team succeed, these will go a long way towards helping your team start off well.