Well, it is officially 2016. That means a new year, a fresh start, and a new opportunity to make a difference not only with your personal goals, but also in your business. Have you established your business resolutions for 2016? I am not talking about sales goals or utilization minimums or project goals – these are things you address with your business plan. I am referring to HOW you plan meet or beat your business goals by adjusting your work management strategies.
Last year I spoke with over 100 companies that ranged from small (10 – 50 employees) to large (10,000+ employees) from a wide variety of industries. I had the opportunity to learn about their business and the challenges they experience in project and work management. It is quite fascinating to see that regardless of the size or industry the problems are the same, just on different scales. So, how can we start to alleviate the pain points in 2016? What are some work management resolutions that can help you achieve your priorities and stay under budget, within scope, and on schedule?
1. Consolidate Technology
More is not better! While you can find a software tool or app for just about everything you do, that does not mean you should use them all. The primary objective when implementing new work management technology is to simplify the way you work and save you time. However, we see many companies that have pieced together 5 to 10 (even higher in some cases) applications to address each business process. Unfortunately this complicates matters by people forgetting which tool does what, having multiple logins to remember, and not to mention the significant duplication of effort in multiple systems, which ultimately leads to inconsistencies. Spending a little time at the beginning of this year to evaluate and consolidate these tools will save you a lot more time, effort, and money throughout the rest of the year.
2. Automate Repetitive Tasks
Just because you have always done it that way, does not mean it’s the only way to do it. Think about the things you have to do on a daily, weekly or monthly basis that are repetitive and evaluate the true effort and cost. For example, we worked with a client this year that has a giant Excel spreadsheet where each of the 10 project managers were spending 2 hours every week reviewing and maintaining the report for management. That equates to 80 hours a month being spent by project managers on administration for just one report at a cost of over $50,000 per year. Now that is an impact on the bottom line. For you it may be reports, communication methods, workflow, follow ups, or a number of other things. Whatever it is, take the necessary steps to automate.
3. Don’t Jump on the Bandwagon
If Johnny jumped off the bridge, does that mean you will also jump? Ok, so you don’t know Johnny and you for sure are not jumping off any bridges (hopefully), but adopting a new process or methodology because it is the latest trend in project management is just as bad. In 2015, the buzzword was Agile. Agile dominated articles, webinars and conferences, while it also seemed every software company developed and marketed an agile module for their product. While it is important to learn from the successes of others and allow for flexibility and change when appropriate, altering your business process with a knee jerk reaction based on a new trend can be detrimental. Find a solution that aligns with the way you do business, not the other way around.
4. Delegate and Work Smarter
There is no ‘i’ in team. Most project managers are already working 50 – 60 hours each week, and most did not attend school to be a project manager. They were promoted to the title because they are good at what they do. Well shouldn’t you let them continue to do just that – what they are good at doing and what got them there in the first place? Administrative tasks such as project schedules and reporting deter at minimum 12 -16 hours each week away from the work at hand.
In 2016, consider leveraging project analysts. Create this project team, work smarter, guarantee consistent and trustworthy information for decision makers, and let the PM do what they do best. It is a win-win situation.
5. Tackle the BIG picture
Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results. Too many times we see organizations address challenges with one adjustment at a time. This not only takes longer to fix the problem, but you end up spending a significant amount of money backtracking and adjusting. Taking the time to evaluate all technology, information, people, and process will prove much more successful in the long and short run. Simply upgrading your technology because a new version was released will not solve the reason people are not using it. This year get out of your silo and look at the problem from 10,000 feet. You may surprise yourself with how simple the answer really is.
We have all heard the term “work smarter” and have most likely vowed to do so each year. However, we tend to get trapped in busy work and just trying to get things done. The easiest path is the way you have always done it, yet that is an oxymoron. It may appear to be the easier path because no change is involved, but it is actually NOT the most efficient or smartest way to work.