Project Management: A guide to getting it done

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Is your project cruising in the fast lane or stuck in traffic? To keep a project moving quickly, the project team, team leader and project sponsor have to remove or prevent obstacles that may get in the way of the project?s success.

The most common project clogs to watch for are:

?Feature creep.? To make decisions about suggested feature changes, we use what is called a change impact matrix. We also freeze the design of the product or service, including the set of features, at a specified time in the project. The earlier this is done, the faster your project will move. Save your future feature ideas as upgrade possibilities for later versions of the product or service.

Project agreement changes. When a project is directed by a project agreement, project changes often mean the project will be re-launched. In my experience, it?s better to spend half a day re-launching the project based on a new project agreement than to create a final deliverable that no one wants or attempt to complete a project with inadequate resources and lack of support from the project?s sponsor. When you?re developing a new project plan from the new project agreement.

Poor team dynamics. An inability to work together toward a common goal comes from lack of commitment, lack of interaction and a lack of interest in constructively resolving conflict. Many projects also lose and gain people during their execution. When this happens, it is important that the team spends half an hour together developing new team guidelines and meeting protocols in order to facilitate working relationships.

Multitasking. When team members have to work on multiple projects or multiple tasks within the same project, there is a tendency to multitask. People work quickly and efficiently when they work on one task to its completion and don?t juggle multiple tasks simultaneously. If people are working on multiple projects, it?s best if they set aside blocks of time to focus on one task at a time.

Overscheduling people?s time. We all need to take care of our basic living needs, socialize, connect with family, and relax and unwind. If people are too overscheduled because of project work, they will create ways to take care of these needs while doing their project work. It?s best to let the team members create a schedule that they can abide by in a normal workweek. If things get in a crunch, do not require people to work more than one extended workweek at a time.

Inefficient business processes. It?s the job of the project sponsor to knock down barriers so that the project team can work quickly and efficiently. When the project sponsor identifies bureaucratic time wasters and gets rid of them, the entire team will operate more effectively
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Chaotic work environment. It is a good idea to have a ?5S? event with the team, both at the beginning of the project and as part of the project status reports. A ?5S? event is a technique adopted from the Japanese quality movement that has been used effectively worldwide to increase productivity. The five S?s are:

l Sort. Only have items in your work area that you use on a daily basis.

l Straighten. Have a designated place for all moveable items.

l Shine. Everything in the area looks like it is new and operates perfectly. Recycle bins and wastebaskets are emptied nightly.

l Standardize. This includes visual controls for common areas, such as how to use the copier.? ??? ???

l Sustain. Have daily and weekly systems to keep up with improvements.???

Michelle LaBrosse is founder and chief executive officer of Cheetah Learning. Visit www.cheetahlearning.com.