Faster is better when you’re tasked to deliver a project. I mean, rarely does a senior executive tell you to take your time, relax, no big hurry.. whenever you can find the time.
No. The pressure to beat even a tight deadline can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve taken a practical approach to real-life situations faced daily by project managers on the job. Follow the five tips below and learn your peers in the field speed up project delivery.
Tip 1: Take Shortcuts
It’s more fun executing your plan than making it. No big revelation there. It’s just more fulfilling to do the work than conceptualize it. But it’s in the planning phase that you can plan a better execution when the time comes to actually execute, so this is a crucial period to identify where you can take a shortcut that leads to where you want to go without expending more time.
The tip here is to take a step after you think your project plan is all wrapped up. Look at it again with a more critical eye. Take the extra-time to view the plan from a different perspective or two. You’ll likely see spots that can be tightened up, scheduled more efficiently, so they take less of your project time without sacrificing your project. They may even need less effort, making them a win-win.
Tip 2: Automate Manual Tasks
Another way to speed through the road bumps of traffic in your project is by automating your manual tasks. There are likely a handful of manual tasks that project leaders are doing on a daily basis. Using the right software can help you easily automate them and free up your time.
Some of those tasks are: summarizing data for your weekly status reports; completing timesheet and expense forms; figuring out if the project is on track; and reporting on the risks, changes and issues inherent in your project. Tasks like this don’t need to be done manually, they can easily be automated.
If you’re using project management software (and if you’re not, why aren’t you?), you can set up procedures for it to do these daily manual tasks for you. Just have your team input the data you need to make the calculations and the software will group and summarize the info. All you’ll need to do is run the reports and look over the current status of your plan to make sure it stays on track.
Tips 3: Manage Execution Carefully
Once you’ve double-checked your project plan and made sure there are no shortcuts not taken, then it’s time to hold that plan close and continuously manage your project against it. If you leave the project plan to gather dust, then you’re just negating all the hard work you put in to ensure a smooth- and fast-running project. Your team should also be adhering to the plan, not taking on tasks not assigned to them, even those that may have arisen over the lifecycle of the project. It’s your job, not theirs, to manage the plan and the project.
There are several ways you can still save time during the execution of your plan. For example, you can work with your suppliers and contractors for enhanced efficiency; mitigate risks and issues before they impact your time-frame; save all non-critical tasks until after the project is done; don’t allow unplanned tasks to be completed, unless they are crucial to the overall project; and avoid implementing change requests, again, unless they are critical.
Tip 4: Double Up On Resources
If you can assign more resources to your project, then you’re likely to get that project done faster, but not every project is going to have the budget to do this. However, you can double up on your resources, meaning that you move some resources around. Take something away from other task that’s not as crucial as the one you double up on.
Why would you want to take from one to give to another, even if only temporarily? Because by focusing on the tasks on your critical path you can complete the project earlier than originally scheduled. Those other tasks that you’ve neglected for the time being can be returned to, or not. Maybe they weren’t crucial for the job after all.
Tips 5: Critical Tasks First
Not all tasks are created equal. Some are more important to the overall project and others are more time-consuming. Then there’s the simple truth that by the end of your project the same task that you may have breezed through at the beginning is going to take more time to complete. The reason is simply that team members are spent.
This is why you’ll want to figure out which tasks in your plan are the most complex and, if possible, complete them at the start of your project. That way your team is fresh and enthusiastic and more capable to rising up to the challenge. Also, they’ll be able to get this work done faster as well as at a higher standard of quality.
Also, part of speeding up a project is speeding up the process of reporting on that project. Devin Deen, project management trainer, shows you how in the video below.
Embrace these handful of practical tips and you’ll see projects more faster through their life cycle and everyone will be happier for it. A bonus piece of advice is that you’ll want to have the right tools for the job, and there is none better than the online software suite ProjectManager.com. Its robust, collaborative tools allow you to better plan, monitor and report on your project. See for yourself, by taking this free 30-day trial.