How to plan preparations?
International project management is a complex topic the exhaustion of which exceeds the volume of many publications. If you have had no experience managing group work and organizing events so far, a dive into literature might be a good start. We recommend several items in our Library.
Below, we describe 5 points which we believe are vital to the success of the preparation stage:
1. Use project management tools
For the exchange to take place, you must complete at least several hundred different tasks together with the participants. Without the right system, it will be easy to get confused, especially if the team members are located in different cities or even countries.
The basic tool that will allow you to deal with task management can be, for example, a Gantt chart, which you can create yourself in a spreadsheet or use a dedicated platform for this purpose, such as Asana, Trello, or Nozbe. What is really important, however, is not to choose a specific tool, but the one that suits the needs of the team the most. Sometimes a Facebook group or a piece of paper and a pen is enough.
2. Keep your communication up to date
Even the best tool will not make your team automatically involved in the preparation. An absolute condition for this to happen is the correct flow of information between all involved persons. The most sophisticated tools are only useful as much as they are used to help you achieve your goals. If you see that something is not working, try to find out why it is so, as soon as possible, and make the necessary changes.
The issue of communication also includes the aspect of creating an appropriate atmosphere of cooperation, mutual trust, and building an environment in which participants feel safe and productive. This is important because only thanks to trust, you don’t have to carry the burden of everything on your shoulders, and at the same time you can be sure that you will find out early enough when things go wrong.
3. Share the responsibility
In the preparation stage, it is not about dividing up tasks amongst yourself. Participants will become much more involved when the tasks assigned to them result from taking responsibility for specific aspects of the project themselves. And there must be decision-making behind responsibility. The project will be the best if it is a joint effort of all participants. This is the only way for the project to respond accurately to their needs.
4. Monitor regularly
Delegating responsibility does not mean a lack of control. It is worth setting the rhythm in which you will meet with the team and analyze the progress in carrying out specific tasks. Tools such as the Gantt chart will help in organizing a project only if you actually use them responsibly – that is, make them comprehensive and up-to-date.
Also, remember that everyone needs help at times, and regular statuses can be a good opportunity to offer it when things are not going smoothly.
5. Celebrate successes
Ultimately, the youth project is supposed to be fun. So let’s focus on successes and emphasize the importance of even the smallest ones. Preparing a project is a long journey, and knowing what has been achieved is crucial to staying motivated.
The project’s rainy day
When planning activities in preparation for the exchange, it is worth remembering about the scheme known as the “project’s rainy day”. This simple graph shows how the involvement of participants changes depending on the moment in the project. Being aware of the “rainy day” allows you to prepare for it in advance and then pay more attention to the well-being of team members.