How to achieve healthy projects in four simple steps
Keeping projects healthy takes a huge amount of time and energy, especially when you’re managing more than one or managing it on top of your day job.
Here are four useful tips to ensure your projects stay in tip top condition.
Tip 1: Manage your schedule
The project schedule is one of your most important documents, so making sure you get it right and keeping it up-to-date is important. It seems like a drudge but once it’s out of control it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get it back in order.
Make task durations at least 1 day and no more than 2 weeks – so you’re not obsessing about low hanging fruit but also aren’t leaving things too long without checking in.
Update your schedule once a week. Any more and you’re getting too obsessed. Any less and you’re likely to be losing control and oversight – which is never good.
Clearly mark the critical path, or golden thread, and include the name of the individual responsible for the delivery of the task group on the chart. It keeps things really clear and quick to view.
Tip 2: Keep your stakeholders happy
Managing up and out is one of your primary roles and takes up a lot of time and energy. Remember, this isn’t just about the bosses, it includes suppliers and end users.
You’ll find that all most stakeholders want is to be kept informed and feel that their opinions have been listened to.
A monthly project newsletter is a great way to keep in touch. Include updates on progress, what is coming up on the schedule, and general bits of project news.
Tip 3: Document everything!
This might sound like an obvious thing to do, but make sure you document everything. If you have a ‘watercooler’ chat, follow it up with an email. You never know when it will come in handy. It’s not so much a case of covering your back as dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s. We’ve seen many instances where someone’s had a quick chat, taken the direction as gospel and then been questioned about why they took the action they did and have no evidence to back it up.
Tip 4: Have regular team meetings
When you’re under the pump, working 16 to 18 hour days to deliver your project, it’s really easy to consider stopping the project catch-up meeting. But it’s at this point that project meetings become more important than ever.
During this meeting you’re likely to pick up if things are going off track or if your team needs to refocus. Better to discover this here than on the day before go live when you realise a critical piece of work has been missed (We’ve have seen it happen!)
It’s a chance for the team to take a bit of a breather and relax
It’s a place for any challenges and grievances to be aired. When time pressures mount it’s really easy for little frustrations and niggles to boil over and become problematic. Use the team meeting as a time and place to discuss and diffuse potential volatile situations
Proactively capture any lessons the team wants to share, saving time and effort at the project close out.
We hope these 4 tips have been useful and help you maintain healthy projects.
Check out our case study page to find out how we’re helping our customers keep their projects healthy.