Top 5 Project Planning Steps for Success

The expression “failing to plan is planning to fail” cannot be any truer in today’s immigration law practice and organization. Poor planning (or lack of planning entirely) can lead to costly disasters. To stay on top of projects, provide clients value and avoid potential malpractice, immigration practitioners must chart out a course of action for large (and small) projects. Do you know the top five project-planning steps to execute a successful project?

1) Forming a Strategy:

Projects can be related to the practice of immigration law or the challenge of running an immigration law practice. Your strategy is your roadmap. Your roadmap should have markers, instructions and guides on exactly how to proceed along with an objective. For everyday projects like accepting an immigration case, the veteran attorney or accredited immigration representative will have little challenges if that immigration case type is a familiar one. If the immigration case involves a newly enacted law or legislation, or is a new type of case, then you’ll need to chart out a strategy. Either way, laying out a strategy that includes an objective will help make navigating a similar project in the future much easier. It also increases the likelihood of success.

2) Allocating a Budget:

Once you have a strategy, allocating a monetary budget provides guidelines from which to operate. You and relevant team members will have a clear understanding of whether certain resources are within reach. For example, if your organization is expanding your immigration law practice from employment to include more family based matters, there may be a need to set aside a budget to invest in training sessions, purchasing guides and/or hiring experienced staff members. An accurate budget lets you know what resources you can invest.

3) Recruiting Subject Matter Experts:

Along with a budget is the need to understand who your subject matter experts will be (if any are needed). Continuing the example of the organization expanding its immigration law practice, knowing whether certain experts are needed on a project will be critical to that project’s success. If your organization lacks the expertise, how will your organization get up to speed in that subject matter? Will you need to contract with co-counsel? Will you need to hire an experienced paralegal? Or will practice guides suffice?

4) Delegating Tasks:

In any given project, delegating specific tasks to individuals is important to ensure accountability and success. While some tasks may seem mundane, in the practice of immigration law, those tasks can become the sole cause for a potential malpractice claim. Some prime examples are photocopying and courier management. Did you complete a project only to realize you failed to make any photocopies? Or did you fail to send a package with the ability to track its content? Who was in charge of these tasks?

5) Reserving Time:

Projects that have been successfully managed in the past probably have predictable lead times. New and larger projects, on the other hand, may bring with it other surprises, including how much time it may take to complete. If you are charting new projects, be conservative in the amount of time you allot. Start with a deadline and work backwards from that date, then add a few more days (or weeks) to account for any contingencies. If your projects usually involve immigration matters, the best way to execute this 5 Step Project Plan is to use a smart immigration case management system. You can plan your timeline; assign an appropriate paralegal or coordinator; allow experts access to your case; and keep track of your budget, all in one system. For all other matters, planning is a first step towards success.