Summary: A combination of the right project management methodologies, tools, and skills can help you boost your efficiency and productivity as a team — and make your way to the finish line successfully.
Just 15% of project managers work on one project at a time, recent research reveals. Meanwhile, the vast majority — 59% — are involved with between 2 and 5 projects simultaneously, while another 15% run more than 10 at a time.
Clearly, given how much these professionals have on their plates at one time, the project management process demands efficiency. But that’s easier said than done.
A combination of the right project management methodologies, tools, and skills, however, can help you boost your efficiency and productivity as a team — and make your way to the finish line successfully.
Sounds simple, but you’d be surprised at how many leaders focus too much on the big picture, such that they ignore the smaller-level details. In reality, project managers must be involved in every layer of the project, interacting with all the players, including team members, organizational leaders, clients, and stakeholders.
You should be on hand to answer individual questions, as well as hold regular meetings to update your team, in addition to giving them space to update you, too. They are also an opportunity for troubleshooting and ensuring that everyone is on the same page with regard to priorities, goals, due dates, and so on.
Remember: Communication is key.
The importance of communication cannot be overstated when it comes to project management. No matter what methodology you’re using, chances are, communication is a huge part of it. In fact, many projects don’t end according to their timetables or fail altogether in large part due to poor communication or miscommunication.
Communication takes many forms, from emails to reports to quick debriefs. You must make your expectations of your team members clear, not just by telling them what to do but also by ensuring understanding. You must also hone the best style for your particular organization — not every type of communication is suitable for every team.
Just how does communication improve efficiency? When everyone is clear on the objectives and kept informed about the goings-on in terms of the project and how it aligns with the broader business goals, people are better able to tackle and streamline their particular roles and responsibilities. Plus, when and if you do encounter hiccups, open and honest communication will allow you to weather the storm. Everyone will be on the same page and in sync with one another.
Project management software is an enormous asset. While it cannot replace a human project manager, it will aid them and the rest of the team in tracking and understanding the flow of the initiative. You’ll be able to assign responsibilities and tasks, share documents, set due dates, and see a big-picture overview of the project in its entirety.
Having all this information in one place will enable you to gain clarity about your project’s progress and see whether you need to pick up the pace on certain tasks or objectives. You will be able to assess how you’re working toward individual goals thanks to your project management tool. This will prove instrumental in improving efficiency and accelerating your timeline.
Are you using resources recklessly? You may not even be aware of it if you are, but too often, businesses neglect to appreciate what they have and end up needlessly generating waste.
Just look at time. This is one of the most valuable resources you have. But plenty of organizations hold lengthy meetings that have no real conclusion, when they could be better served by sending a quick Slack or email.
Eliminating waste also means eliminating bottlenecks that hold up your project and cause it to stall. It will serve you well to examine your resources and how you’re actually using them, before considering what you could do instead in order to speed things along and improve efficiency. Consider, too, how you’re allocating your resources. Would certain tools be better applied elsewhere?
Develop a pipeline.
Any project manager knows that a plan is critical for completing a project successfully. You can have all the right pieces in place, but if you don’t have a solid plan, you won’t be able to see whether everything is moving along at the right pace.
As part of your plan, it’s critical to develop a pipeline of both talent and resources. Create a roadmap of sorts, one that clarifies roles and responsibilities, as well as establishes how you will most effectively and efficiently utilize resources, including talent. You should also have a database that catalogs knowledge, data, and information of all critical aspects and components of your projects, whether they are in progress, have been completed, or are in the early planning stages.
Rinse and repeat.
No project is one and done. There will always be new initiatives. And there will also be ways for you to make the next round even more efficient.
In order for you to learn from both your successes and mistakes, you should:
- Document the process. Write down the various stages, who was responsible for each task, what resources you used, and other elements of the project.
- Debrief with your team. Discuss what went well and how you can improve in the future. Ask individual team members how they each contributed and what they might change next time.
- Ask for feedback. Solicit feedback from everyone involved, including employees, clients, and other stakeholders. They could have invaluable suggestions. There are ways of collecting feedback anonymously to ensure confidentiality, such as by sending out surveys.
Efficiency is paramount to your project management process, and every organization can benefit from assessing and reassessing its strategies to enhance productivity. Implementing these measures will make your process less time-consuming and, ultimately, more successful overall.