You can manage a project with great skill, and still the project might fail. There are a lot of studies about why projects are abandoned, but it’s hard to compare someone else’s project performance with your own.
So what are the reasons your project might be lagging? Maybe a team member is blocked. Perhaps more resources need to be allocated in one area, and less in another. Maybe your communications aren’t clear. It could be any one of these or dozens of other issues.
So how to you uncover the root of the problems? If you dig into your project management tools and apply the following 3 strategies, you can turn the ship around and reach port successfully, on deadline and within budget.
Start with the currently assigned tasks. Of course, not all tasks are created equal; some are more important and need attention first.
But does your team know which tasks to prioritize?
That’s where you come in. You know the priorities of the project. You’ve planned and have been in meetings with sponsors, stakeholders & customers, but your team may not be privy to this information. How do you get that crucial information out to your team?
Why not review the task lists for each team member and spend a couple of minutes together reviewing them. Find out where the areas of confusion may lie and resolve to have a solution for each.
I recommend that you don’t just look at the individual’s task list in isolation, however. Go ahead and share your Gantt chart (if you have one), so you can discuss the role of their tasks in the plan. They can see which tasks are scheduled and which have task dependencies. You can discuss the planned duration of their tasks, and see if there are any discrepancies between your plan and their timeline. It helps team members to know where they fit in to the overall project and how integral they are to it.
It can be frustrating when team members are late in handing off their work, but what expectations have you actually set with your team in terms on completing their workload?
Call a meeting. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Do it today. But don’t use the meeting as a platform to unload your frustrations, use it to listen. Take the first 30 minutes of the meeting to hear from your team. Find out what’s working for them and what’s not. Understand where roadblocks are occurring as a team, and listen to their concerns. It’s vital you establish expectations of workload and task deliverability, but only after you’ve listened to your team.
Next, use your project management software’s workload management feature to confirm each individual’s availability on projects. Remember, not every team member is just working on your project. They may have other tasks and duties across the organization.
Color coding helps you see when people are scheduled for vacations or their non-working days, so you can see at a glance who’s available on which project. You can also see who’s over-allocated. Those are the orange or red color days. Meet with each person and drill down into those areas first. It’s possible you or another project manager has put too much on their plate. Also be sure to capture any upcoming vacation days, so you can make sure you are privy to their schedule and aren’t caught off guard when suddenly they’re out for two weeks.
From this view you can re-allocate work instantly, so as you sit with your team members and review this page together, you can offer immediate relief to their workload. That will go a long way towards repairing broken trust and communications.
Learn to Love Reports
A status report is your daily briefing on where things stand in the project. You can’t find a more important piece of information, because without it you’re flying blind.
So, how long did it take you to build your current status report?
If your answer is more than two minutes, then you’ve got a problem. If you’re still using Excel, then I know it took too long, and it’s high time that you use the online project reports in your project management software.
Old data is about as useful as yesterday’s newspaper. When you manage the whole project online, you have access not only to one-click reports, but also real-time dashboards so you can monitor performance daily. Then you know exactly the status of each team member, and you also know the overall health of your project.
You want to get a reporting tool that can generate a status report with one click, and be able to do so whether that’s a project status, tasks, timesheet, workload or expense report. They should also be simple to customize, so you get only the information you need.
Another feature you want is the ability to see planned versus actual progress in the project. And you want to be able to run the report across many formats, whether it’s print or something to export and share online. You want to get those reports and share them with your team instantly.
With the right tools at your disposal, performance is going to improve, because now you know what’s happening in the project when it’s happening. That gives you an advantage. It provides you the room to act when your actions will matter.
The right tool for your project is one that is cloud-based and online, so it can be updated by your team when they’ve completed a task and you can see the status of the project in real-time. ProjectManager.com offers all those features and more to help you plan, track and report on the project, as well as easily share that data, so everyone is on the same page and working together towards the same goals. Start your free 30-day trial today.