Throughout my professional career, I have worked on a variety of large scale projects with a lot of visibility from stakeholders with all sorts of titles. These projects come with a different set of requirements, obviously, for communication and overall processes. With this, though, I have quickly learned how important and helpful alignment among all stakeholders can be.

One of the bigger projects I have worked on is the development of a brand new product, used exclusively internally for our thousands of team members. Because this product is used millions of times each month, the buildout of the next version was watched very closely but also required a bunch of people to make it a success. All in all, we have had over 200 people involved in this project including myself as a leader of one of our business teams.

I want to outline some areas I believe are crucial to the success of any project and how I have learned to use them. These are:

Communication. This probably goes without saying but communication in any project is vital. I’ve learned you have to communicate just about everything as quickly as possible. For example, if an error or issue comes up in development, communicate to all necessary parties as soon as it’s found. We can all get really busy throughout the week but take those 5 minutes to type out the email, make sure to include all necessary stakeholders, and send it. Many times I have found something, immediately gone to another meeting, and have completely forgot to let anyone know. This also goes for every other stakeholder. Everyone must be on the same page to bubble up both good and bad as quickly as possible.

Documentation. When working on large scale projects, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made. Both big and small. Over the course of the project, these decisions can get forgotten. If everyone is on the same page of documenting anything and everything in the same location, those decisions will never be forgotten. Send out recaps when decision meetings happen. Place recaps in a central location so people don’t have to dig through their email every time. Follow up in person conversations, even if it’s just a passing in the hallway, with an email to make sure everyone is aware. I can’t tell you how many times a recap has saved our projects. Or, getting something out of our internal chat platform an into an email with more people so that it’s documented and isn’t a one on one conversation. Do this enough times and it’s a habit. That’s a good thing.

Check-ins. Tying both of the items above together, another important part of alignment is getting everyone together regularly. In some projects I have worked on, we have had 5 different weekly check-ins for various aspects of the project. These included check-ins with the business, technology, all parties, leaders, etc. It may seem like overkill, and trust me I thought it was initially too, but it’s not. It’s extremely beneficial. This forces alignment and if everyone is dedicated to coming prepared to the check-in to speak to the agenda items, you can have efficient meeting and keep the project moving. These are, of course, followed up with a recap to make sure that the decisions and conversation that was had is documented. These check-ins also build relationships with people you might not work with every single day.

There are so many aspects to a large project and sometimes it can be tough to keep it altogether. Alignment among all parties helps make that happen. Not everyone will agree with every decision made or even how you go from point a to point b but if you’re all aligned on the decision, that helps make a successful project. Additionally, these are great tools even outside of large projects. Everything should be documented and you should always communicate clearly and frequently.