Even well-planned, clearly defined projects can get out of control and become something they were never meant to be.
Fortunately, several strategies to follow allow you to streamline the processes in a project and stay focused on the end goals.
Keeping an eye on the big picture
Project management is similar to a jigsaw puzzle: you need to take your cue from the image on the box cover to make the pieces fit together.
The project can stop if you get fixated on one or two pieces and don’t look at the final figure.
People often plan individual activities by focusing on the doing rather than on the end or intermediate results.
In this way, the focus shifts from planning the activity to planning project tasks based on desired outcomes. That’s a whole different story.
Take ideas from or follow already approved processes
If another team has successfully developed a process that completes similar tasks, you can either take a cue or copy it entirely.
Best practices are a storehouse of successful tools that can be applied to other projects and shared with other teams. You may find this article about “Lessons Learned” worth to check in this regard.
Assign names, dates, and consequences
Simplifying things doesn’t always require acting on activities. Sometimes you need to use clarity!
Example? When we assign a task, it’s often not enough to say that someone is responsible for this or that and let that person organize.
In most cases, the project manager must name an activity and provide information about the due date and identify any consequences that failure to meet those deadlines may bring.
This does not mean threatening the team with termination but merely letting them know what other tasks are subordinate to this particular activity and the potential cost or result of a delay.
In many cases, the people involved only receive one piece of the puzzle and do not have the opportunity to see the final image in its entirety.
Because of this, they may not be aware of the other moving pieces, and telling them what is involved, will help them better understand the importance of their actions, and ignorance will not be an excuse.
Use project management software
Project management software helps to bring together all the information of a project in one place, allowing you to know at all times its status.
The project manager is responsible for managing all the details that allow a project to progress successfully.
These details include tracking assigned and completed tasks.
To keep the project under control, you need to make the following actions standard to maintain order:
- Update task status in project management software on a frequent and regular basis.
- Tick activities as soon as they are finished.
- Assign tasks to team members at regular intervals but without overloading them to avoid reduced performance.
Manage priorities and reduce task size
Especially with multiple projects running concurrently, it is essential to manage priorities and choose an order of work that satisfies the law of diminishing returns.
When this does not happen, plans fail, and projects are not completed as quickly or efficiently as possible.
To simplify the process, the project manager should give more attention to a few projects rather than engage all of them, especially when you have to manage limited resources.
The same applies if you have more than one activity at the same time.
One of the keys to streamlining processes is understanding what’s important – and what’s not – and continually re-evaluating the priority list as new things are added.
In addition, reducing the size of tasks is also a strategy that helps streamline processes in projects.
Project managers must therefore develop process simplification as a critical leadership skill.
With a well-structured and organized approach and following the different strategies presented in this article, you will be able to eliminate unnecessary complexities and complete projects faster and more efficiently.
Finally, it’s essential to keep in mind that complexity is like a weed in the garden… even when you eliminate it, it can reoccur at any time.
Whenever this happens, you can revisit these strategies to streamline processes in your projects.