Avoid “Why didn’t we know this sooner?” 

Getting caught by surprise during a project can make even the most solid plan of action crumble and start a domino effect that causes delays, unmet expectations, and confusion. While you can’t account for everything, you can create checks and balances that prevent most issues from falling through the cracks. There are four areas to keep in mind at the beginning stages of any project that will make sure that you are set up for success.  

Extreme Ownership 

Who is in charge? On every project, there is one person who is ultimately responsible for its success or failure.   

If you are at the start of a project and no one has been identified as the leader, then this is a step that must be corrected first. One person needs to understand the scope and logistics of the project well enough that they can oversee and delegate accordingly.   

At no time during a project should someone be pointing the finger and saying, “I thought someone else was handling that.” The leader should be hands-on and make expectations clear so that everyone is on the same page.  

The leader should practice extreme ownership. The concept, popularized by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, means you are responsible for not just the tasks which you directly control, but for all those that affect whether your mission is successful 

Use A Checklist 

A checklist is a list of required steps, typically placed in the order in which they need to be carried out.  A checklist is best used for repetitive tasks. 

Even if this is your first time with a particular project, it’s important that you create a preliminary checklist filled with all the tasks you can perceive of. Creating a checklist forces you to see where the gaps are in your processes, and it’s easier for others to review and provide feedback. 

If a project is routine for you, it’s even more important that you use a checklist because you can miss pivotal steps in the correct order or think a step has already been accomplished when it hasn’t.  

Having a checklist builds confidence because it gives you a trusted framework to work from so the team’s performance is consistent no matter who is in charge. Update your checklist whenever new changes are implemented to keep it current.  

Know Your Relationships 

If your project involves others outside of your internal team, you need to understand their roles in the project and make sure that their contact information is up-to-date 

It’s up to you to know if there have been any staffing changes that may affect your project or there is a new policy in place that must be followed. You can’t say, “Why didn’t we know this sooner?” 

If a certain relationship is vital to the success of a project, you want to make sure that you are nurturing it, even when there isn’t a current project. An email just to check-in can go a long way and it might even provide early information that you can use to strengthen your project.  

Know Your Deadlines 

By knowing your deadlines, you are able to work backward to know what needs to be accomplished next. I 

If you have a deadline for October 30th, and it’s October 29th and you still haven’t gotten the paperwork you needed from another department or agency, you will find yourself feeling rushed and unprepared.  

What if they have a three-day turnaround? What if the main point of contact is on vacation for a month?  

Deadlines allow you to see what’s coming up so that you can begin early. The sooner you get the ball rolling in various areas of the project, the faster you’ll be able to know if you will be able to move to the next step. If there’s a roadblock, you can act accordingly. 


If you keep these four tips in mind, you will be creating good practices that will ensure that your projects are covered from A to Z.  

At PRD Land Development, we have our processes perfected so that we are always able to stay one step ahead and stay on time and on budget. You can get there too.   

Remember, this is not a static process but one that can be updated and improved upon with every project as you take time to stop and reflect. What worked? What didn’t work? How can we better be prepared? 

4 Ways To Stay Ahead On Your Next Project