Wikipedia defines project management this way:
I think that’s a pretty good definition, even in the context of writing grants, but it begs a few questions. What exactly are the best ways to initiate and plan a project? How do you define success? How do you communicate all of this to your team and ensure they are executing the plan faithfully without feeling like you’re herding cats?
There are a lot of opinions out there with varying answers to all of these questions. And in reality, the answer that’s right for you depends on the context. What are you trying to achieve? Who is on your grants team and what are their strengths and weaknesses? What external factors and organizations (if any) do you need to account for?
In other words, there are different tools for different teams and different projects and your mileage may vary with any or all of them.
So, instead of telling you what I think is the best tool, I want to present you with seven great tools that you could use to manage your grant projects. These would also work well for other types of projects, too!
A SWOT analysis is a great tool to use in the very beginning stages of planning a project. In the context of grants, this would be a great one to use if your org were thinking of writing a large federal grant or a grant involving multiple collaborators. It would also be good if you were thinking of initiating a new program that was innovative, groundbreaking ,or hadn’t been tried in your area before.
To do a SWOT analysis, you have to answer questions about your organization and program within 4 key areas:
2. LOGIC MODELS
Logic models are a fantastic tool to use once you’ve decided to write a grant for your project, but need a good way to organize your thoughts prior to actually writing your first draft. When done well, logic models can help you identify weak spots in your narrative, shore up your data and case for need, and structure your grant in an intuitive way that grant reviewers will understand easily and appreciate
PESTEL analysis tools help you to identify the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, and Legal opportunities & challenges you might encounter during the course of planning or executing your program.
4. STRATEGY MAP
A strategy map is a good way to get a bird's eye view of your organization and its program. It allows you to put all of the important elements on a single page so you can see how they work together, flow into each other, and if there are obvious areas that must be addressed.
This is one of my favorite tools, because it lays out steps, responsibilities, and due dates. It seems like this always the hardest part of executing any program and so I feel it’s one of the most vital tools you can have to keep things organized and moving in the right direction.
PDCA stands for “Plan, Do, Check, & Adjust”. No program or project will go exactly as you planned, so it’s important to have a plan for when things go awry. The PDCA helps you do that by incorporating measures that help you identify issues, root causes, trends, and the actions needed to correct things.
Asana is a bit different than the other tools I’ve listed here. Rather than being a spreadsheet or PDF-type tool that you fill out and use, it’s a digital tool. And it’s one that I find indispensable to work my work with grants as well as every other project I tackle in both my work life and my personal life.
You create an account and then you can create different projects with their own timelines, tasks, due dates, and notes. You can invite team members, chat back and forth, attach files, mark things as done, and overall track the progress of the project.
If you don’t do anything else, I recommend you give Asana a try. You can check Asana out here (and no, I’m not an affiliate).
I hope you have found these tools and tips helpful. If you have, please share this article!
Also, if you would like your own bundle complete with templates of 6 of the tools I mentioned in this article (obviously, I can’t include Asana), you can get ‘em! Just click the button below.