You can probably get your team to commit to a tight deadline. But can you get them to commit to meeting it?
Project management is one of the most frustrating and emotionally charged areas for managers and project teams alike. Here are five tips for getting your project to the finish line on time.
1) First of all make sure that everyone agrees on what the objectives are and that they’re all talking the same language. Adam Bricker, of World Vision International recommends that you “define what, specifically, you expect to accomplish. Also, write out examples of how people's everyday work lives will change as a result of the project. All stakeholders should then sign the papers.” He goes on to say that “Just as CIOs sign contracts with consulting firms, colleagues at the same company can formalize their understanding this way, he says. ‘There's a sense of commitment when people sit across the table and say, 'Do we have agreement?'”
2) Use a mind map to gather your thoughts and create a framework for complex data. CIO magazine notes that mind mapping “has come a long way since the standard pencil-and-paper method of decades past. New applications now help users organize, house and link thousands of pieces of information, including reports, bookmarks and projects, in a personalized and visual way. It should be the first thing you pull up when you think through a new project.”
3) A post on TechRepublic says that it’s important to “Assign roles and responsibilities to team members and ensure that each task has a clear owner. Use project management tools and Gantt charts to record who does what and identify start and end dates for each activity. Failure to assign clear responsibilities for each task can lead to overlapping responsibilities, duplication of efforts, excessive time spent on activities, and inferior product quality.”
4) Tired of chasing your tail in endless meetings? It could be that they aren’t even moving things along at all. In Lou Russell’s book, 10 Steps to Successful Project Management the author notes that those meetings are an expensive use of resources.
“If you have 15 people in a project meeting for an hour, you have lost 15 hours of velocity on your project. Two days. Meetings are not free.” He goes on to say that the cost isn’t even the worst of it. “Problem-solving meetings when a project is late aren’t good ways to communicate project status or goals…If the goal is to communicate prokect status or goals, organize the meeting specifically for that or consider other media. Training is a specific goal as well. Don’t use meetings to be all things to all people.”
5) Finally, if everything fails and you can’t get the project in on time, at least console yourself that it’s a learning experience. [[xref: Kim Nash writes on CIO that “Surviving failure not only teaches lessons but builds resiliency-a trait critical to handling the uncertainty we face today. In this economy, which yet shows no signs of great and lasting recovery, you want tested leaders cool enough to handle difficult, unpredictable days. Someone who has never failed is half as valuable as someone who has endured a "humbling experience" and learned from it.”