Most of us relish the idea of “death by chocolate”. What a wonderful way to go! But when it comes to being smothered by something, professionals in the project space more often than not feel stifled by processes…not nearly as delightful as chocolate.
So, why do we often feel that our processes and methodologies are preventing, rather than aiding our success? The problem, I’ve found, is often not with the process itself, but with the application and enforcement of the process. Formalised processes have proven time and time again to increase repeatability and productivity and decrease project delivery time, but how can we apply these processes swiftly, efficiently and with the least amount of “pain”?
Here are a couple of recommendations:
1. Question the processes
If the process is killing you, it is probably because it is not the simplest, most efficient process available. Processes can mostly be streamlined or simplified, making them less of an administrative burden and more useful to project managers and project teams. The key is simplicity. The simpler the process, the more likely it is to be followed and to be useful. Ask yourself continuously – is this is simplest way to approach this? If not, question the process.
Part of the streamlining process should include looking at what can be automated by using a PPM tool like PPO. Examples include automated checking for specified documents at various stages of a project, moving the project from one stage to the next or raising warning signals when items are due.
2. Educate everyone
People frequently resist new procedures. Instead of shrinking away from their questioning, invest time in educating everyone that will be involved in your project. Once team members and stakeholders understand and support your methodology and processes, they will be more cooperative when it comes to following protocol.
PPM tools have various mechanisms to assist with educating team members and stakeholders. PPO, for example, has an interactive life cycle component which visually displays the organisation’s chosen methodology and processes. The life cycle component in PPO could serve as a platform to educate and remind users of the processes and steps to follow to successfully complete projects.
3. Reduce redundancy
Simplify your processes in terms of team involvement by having one status report and one status meeting per reporting period. When your status reports are available directly from a tool like PPO, team members and stakeholders have an opportunity to view the status of projects prior to status meetings.
This reduces time spent on producing reports and documentation and will decrease time spent in status meetings for the entire team.
You can further reduce redundancy by ensuring only the right people attend each meeting and session. Productivity and compliance drop when team members feel caught up in every single project meeting, even ones where their presence is not really required.
4. Manage meetings better
Ensure your project meetings are as informative and useful as possible. If stakeholders feel they are getting value from your meetings, they will be more willing and eager to attend and contribute. Share the purpose of the meeting, the agenda and any applicable pre-reads well before the meeting to ensure everyone is up to speed and on the same page.
PPO can also automate status reports, delivering the latest status report to each stakeholder’s mailbox on a regular basis. This will also assist in keeping status meetings quick and to the point.
You need to ensure that these meetings don’t become working sessions. Keep to the agenda and purpose of the session, setting up additional working sessions with the necessary team members, if required. It is always useful to distribute the list of actions or decisions after the session to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them.
5. Don’t overload
There’s a limit to the amount of work one person can successfully manage. When there is too much on your plate, it’s easier to lose sight of correct processes and protocols than to leave the actual work unfinished. Be mindful of the amount of work you can handle, without compromising on quality and keep to your limits. Don’t be a hero!
By keeping to these five simple recommendations, you should be able to increase the successful completion of your projects, decrease your overall project delivery time and, hopefully, end the pain and suffering.