If decreasing project duration was easy we would all be doing it! Anyone can spend less time on a project, but the challenge is how to reduce project time while keeping quality consistent. Spending less time on a project means you have more time for additional projects and more time for additional clients which should mean more money in your pocket. I found Miranda Morley’s article, “How to Reduce Project Duration”, to be beneficial by providing five steps on how to reduce project duration effectively.
Step One: Morley discusses how to keep track of how time is used and eliminate time wasters. In beginning phases of the project or even before the project starts be conscious of the time taken for snacks, coffee breaks, socializing, etc. By keeping track of this time you can estimate how much time your next project will be increased by. You can also keep track of this wasted time in the first half of the project and focus on decreasing this wasted time in the second half. Realistically, this may be hard for groups that are crunch for time, but always something to be aware of.
Step Two: Make weekly or daily tasks. This may seem simple, but I feel like a lot of project groups forget to do this. Tasks and action items may be set in the beginning of the project, but staying on a weekly or even daily schedule ensures that the group stays on task. Having a daily list also helps the group feel accomplished when they can cross off action items. This can help everyone to stay motivated, especially over long projects.
Step Three: Morley talks about understanding how you work best. First, how do you work as an individual? Are there certain times in the day that you are more alert? Do you work better in certain locations? Once an individual figures out their own work style they are able to better fit into a productive group.
Step Four: Collaborate and delegate. This step is pretty obvious, but it’s beneficial to split up group tasks by strength. Not only is it important to the know the strengths of your group members going into a project, but it’s important to give them jobs that focus on those strengths. This helps to cut project time down drastically when you don’t have to worry about individuals spending days on their portion of the project all because they didn’t understand something. Also, discuss strengths and weaknesses in the office or in your project teams so that you know who to contact about helping you with your project.
Step Five: Cut out distractions like social networking, texting, unnecessary email, etc. This is HUGE! We’ve all been seated at a conference table with group members that can’t seem to take their eyes off their cell phone or people that are clearly looking at pictures on a social media site. This becomes a huge distraction and causes group members to be distracted. While these technologies are fun to use and may even help you communicate important business information, you don’t have to use them during time that has been allotted for working on a project.
This article was interesting to me because I feel that many people are so caught up in spreadsheets and data showing how to reduce time, but often we forget the little things that can really help to decrease the amount of time spent on a project. Remembering these simple steps can dramatically help to reduce project lead times while keeping quality consistent.
What other steps could be added to this list? What has worked for you in the past while working on an important project?