Today, we will talk about the subject of how to improve the efficiency of project management in order to avoid the project team from working overtime.
We all know that project and project management are both result-oriented. But some of the project managers push the project team into always working overtime every day, which is in fact time-oriented. And result-oriented and time-oriented are inconsistent.
What is more important than working hours is work performance. Some of the best companies are result-oriented and efficiency-oriented, regardless of the employees’ everyday working time.
Therefore, improving the efficiency of project management is more sufficient than pushing the team members to work overtime.
1 Improve the efficiency of project planning
As project managers, we need to transfer the project objectives into a written plan, and then transfer the plan into action, and finally, let the action generate results. In this process, we need multiple people to do multiple actions.
Then, how do we ensure that the actions which the multiple team members take are indeed what we need? That is why the project plan is needed.
When developing a project plan, there are at least the following points which we need to consider:
1. Use the method of “5W2H” to verify the plan.
“5W2H” is “Why we do it?”, “Who will do it?”, “Where will we do it?”, “What time will we do it?”, “How will we do it?”, and “How much should we achieve?”
2. Determine the priority of project tasks and make sure that we start with the most valuable tasks.
3. Think about the human factor of the project plan.
- How do the team members and stakeholders accept the project plan? And how is the degree of collaboration among different people when executing the project plan? Also, how is the degree of execution of different people when executing the project plan?
4. Anticipate any possible risk, and develop the corresponding response plan.
5. Perform the preview or rehearsal of the project plan.
If you want to improve the efficiency of the project significantly, then a detailed and clear project plan is needed. The one more minute you spend on planning may possibly save you ten minutes for the project execution afterwords.
2 Improve the efficiency of project execution
Previously we have discussed what should we think about when developing a feasible project plan. Now assume we already have a clear and feasible plan, does that mean we can drink coffee every day as a project manager? The answer is negative.
Although a good plan can improve the project significantly, without a strong execution, the plan is just empty talk. Strong execution is needed for achieving any objective. High quality of execution is the first step of the true beginning of the project.
There are several points that should be considered when we executing the plan:
1. Sting to the plan.
2. Confirm the scope of any task before executing the task, to avoid any scope creep.
3. Manage and control the quality of deliverables, the goal is to achieve a balance between the project schedule and the deliverables’ quality.
4. Perform team-building activities to keep the morale up.
5. Achieve effective communications among team members and between team members and stakeholders.
6. Select adequate suppliers.
7. Reward and punish the members accordingly and fairly; give feedback to the team members regarding their work.
8. Manage the contracts and agreements accordingly.
3 Inspection is effective to measure
After the project team began to execute the project based on the plan, the project manager also has to inspect the team’s work according to the plan. The main purpose of an inspection is to supervise the team to execute the plan timely and adequately.
Where there is inspection, there are outcomes and results. Inspection without any result is false talk and has no effect on improving the project.
After the results of the inspection come out, the project manager should communicate with the team members and give them feedback. The main purpose is to let them know what they have done well and how to keep a good job up, as well as what they have done not well enough and how to improve it.
Supervising the execution of the plan, as well as helping the team members to improve themselves, are the two most important jobs of project managers.
4 Control risks more effectively
We all know that project risks could bring extreme uncertainty to the project. Sometimes, an unimpressive small risk could impact the product after it has been delivered and lead to the project’s failure. Therefore, it is very essential to achieve highly efficient risk monitoring and controlling.
1. Perform detailed and realistic deduction and audit of the risks.
The deduction is for preparing the risk response in advance in order to expect and react. The audit is for inspecting the management process if it has defective factors.
2. Prepare the reserve and develop the contingency response plan.
Reserve: normally we could set up a reserve fund for responding to the risks accordingly, and set up a reserve of 10% more of the task duration.
Contingency response plan: if something happens, we could use the corresponding contingency response plan to mitigate the risk and lower the loss caused by the risk.
3. Response to unexpected risks.
In order to respond to unexpected risks, we could use the development method of short iterations, which means delivering the deliverables progressively.
5 Continuous improvement by lesson-learned
When we summarize the lessons learned during the process of the project, we have to consider the following questions:
1. Why did he/she (the problem creator or the improvement creator) do that?
2. What was the result of doing that?
3. Is there any better way to do that?
In a sentence, we have to learn from the past and learn from other people, only in this way can we reduce the cost of project management and furthermore improve the efficiency of our management.
In summary, this article introduces several methods of how to improve your project management efficiency as a project manager, including what and how we should do in the planning, execution, monitoring, and lesson learned phases of the project.