Delivering More Projects: Focus!

Deliver projects on-time, every time.

Life is busy. There are a hundred and one things you need to get done in a day – so, what do you do? Tackle one thing at a time. The same should be true for your project department. Whether you work in software, pharmaceuticals, financial services, law or something else entirely, projects should be delivered in the same way!

Think about your project department; how many projects are running? How many of those have been running for longer than you anticipated? Project managers face the same challenges irrespective of industry. If you find yourself constantly planning and re-planning, frequently shifting priorities and never seeming to deliver on-time, this article will be valuable to you.

To deliver projects – and deliver them faster – you need to allow your resources to ‘focus and finish’. This mindset will allow output to skyrocket whilst simultaneously crashing lead-times. You can achieve faster delivery of more projects by limiting the number of tasks your resources are working on and reducing interruptions.

Allow your people to be effective – make sure they have everything they need to finish a task, at the start. If they have a ‘full-kit’ (everything required to finish) at the beginning of the project, not only will they be able to deliver it in full, but they’ll deliver it in better time. This method ensures maximum output, especially if you only ask people to focus on one thing at a time! This means protecting your resources from interruption. Every time a key resource is interrupted, capacity is lost, and the project lead time extends, so introduce a protection mechanism. This will identify where interruptions occur and stop them at the source.

This all makes sense – but, watch out!

Limiting the number of projects running will mean that not everyone will be equally loaded. This means that, at times, some people won’t be busy. This has more negative impacts than are immediately apparent. One of the most dangerous being job dissatisfaction. If your people are not motivated at work, they might leave, and nobody wants that. But you still want your projects delivered in full and on-time – and there’s a way! There’s one more step.

In any business, there are always things that need doing which are not time-bound or dependent on other project tasks. These are stand-alone pieces of work, examples of which include: improvements, fixes, documentation, upgrades, upcoming designs, scoping future projects… the list goes on. These value-added pieces of work should be used to fill the gaps in the load. This will still adhere to the ‘focus and finish’ mentality.

This is a win-win! You’ll have fewer unhappy people and more projects being delivered in full, on-time. There will be reduced delays, less stress and more opportunity to increase your business’ profitability.

By Phil Snelgrove, Lauren Wiles