Published in “Project Times” website, September, 2012
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Do you sit in project meetings? How about develop project plans? Report out to executives or board members? Track results? I’d bet if I tracked the time of 10 managers on any day of the week, at least 8 of the 10 would have some sort of involvement in a project for at least part of the day. For most of my clients, it would be 9 out of 10. So, as an overloaded manager, why not think about a few tips to stand out from the crowd?
- Start with the objective: Before getting bogged down in the full details of a project, take a step back and think about the objective. Does it make sense? Does it align with the organization’s objectives? If not, why waste time? Can you clearly articulate the objective to the project team? If not, find out more. Don’t start down a path without fully understanding where you’re going or why.
- Who do you have on your project team? There is no point in jumping into timelines and task details if you have the “wrong people on the bus”. Do you have the best project team members? If the best team members are too busy, how do their priorities stack up against the project’s objective and its importance to the company? Have you thought about who will help achieve the project objectives quickest? Most effectively? How can you get them?
- Dedicate time to kicking off on the right foot: What could be a bigger waste of time than wandering around aimlessly at the beginning of a key project? Often times, it is essential to kick the project off with the “right” people, the “right” communication and with the “right” clarity. For example, I’ve been working with a key client who has been through significant organizational change. The quickest way to ensure zero results is to kick off a project amidst chaos without clearly articulating why this project will be different – and in a way that will resonate with the project team.
- Develop critical path timelines: Don’t waste all sorts of time on complex, detailed project plans that no one can figure out how to follow or track. Instead, strive for simplicity – which tasks are key to success? What order should they go in? Is one step required before another can start? Which require critical resources? Focus exclusively on the critical path timeline, and the rest will follow.
- Begin: Often, what should be the easiest becomes the roadblock. Find a way to begin quickly. Don’t let potential roadblocks and issues hold you up from a key project. Find a way to start to make progress. Once you’ve started, the pieces will start to fall into place as the project gains momentum.
- Aggressively work roadblocks: As project manager, one of the keys to success is to aggressively remove roadblocks. It might not be the most pleasant task; however, it is what will make the difference between success and failure. In today’s new normal business environment, time is of the essence. No one has time to wait for results. Instead, those who are a day quicker in lead time or a few hours faster in returning key customer calls will leave the competition in the dust. You’ll stand out in the crowd by focusing attention on what the others prefer to avoid – roadblocks.
- Track progress: Do you know if your project is on schedule? Do you know what you can do to accelerate the pace of progress? Do you know which critical path tasks are coming up? Are the task owners ready? Find out! Publish and publicize.
- Celebrate successes & address issues: Those who focus on the basic building blocks of success will thrive in today’s environment. Often, I find my clients are tempted to get lost in complexity. Instead, go back to the basics. If you see a task owner struggling, go talk with them immediately. Offer support. Provide constructive feedback. Hold them accountable. Bring in additional resources. Don’t wait until you have an issue. Be on top of potential issues. And, just as quickly as you address potential issues, be even faster to celebrate successes. Recognize progress. Appreciate a team member for taking action.
Delivering project results is vital to company success in today’s new normal business environment. Follow these essential tips to make sure you are one of the few to consistently deliver bottom line results.