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28March2016

How to get your projects completed on time and on budget!

on-target-on-time-on-budget

How often has a project been started but never finished?

If the answer to this is ‘lots’ then more than likely you have a systemic problem that this costing your business in money, time and resources. By that I mean, there is a pattern of behaviour throughout workplace (as opposed to being localised to one individual) that does not support the successful completion of the projects.

This is frustrating for business owners and management teams who question the competence of the frontline workers or middle management.

And it can be demoralising for frontline workers who start wondering if those at the top know what they are doing!

Here are just three possibilities for why this problem exists. Please note, there can be many more but I’ll stick to very common ones.

  1. The purpose of the project is not clear and/or people don’t believe in it
  2. There are insufficient systems and resources in place to support the project
  3. There are too many projects on the go and people feel they can’t the justify time needed.

There are two common solutions that are not very effective in getting a project completed.

  1. Demand the project get finish, which sometimes looks like dragging people kick and screaming to the finish line. There’s very limited success here because it tends to be very divisive and people retreat to silos, so if the project is completed it is short lived.
  2. Let the project go because it is more work than thought and start another one to try to solve the problem the original project was meant to fix.

So what can be done here?

Because it is a systemic problem it needs a systemic solution. The 4 Essential Requirements of a System in Business can help. Let’s use a simple example but these can be used for very complex innovations as well.

Introducing a new refund process with the 4 Essential Requirements of a Business System.

  1. Serve a specific purpose for the business needs.
    1. This includes the specific function e.g. a new refund process needs to expedite the process for improving customer service
    2. This specific function needs to align with the mission and values of the business e.g. one of the business’s values is: ‘excellent customer service is a must’
    3. These two points now become the foundation for ensuring the project becomes a whole of business project as opposed to just a customer service project.
  2. Integration with other systems.
    1. Because it is a whole of business project, there needs to be communicate between departments and the systems within e.g. customer service needs to talk with finance to ensure refund is processed and with product control if the product was faulty.
    2. The quality of information between departments need to align e.g. the information collected by customer service needs to compliment the information finance and product control need.
    3. All parties need to be in agreement on the outcome and the benchmarks (standards) of the outcome e.g. is there a timeline to meet for the completion of refunds? Are there specific criteria to determine if a refund is required? Is the refund process shared between departments?
  3. Implementation of the process.
    1. The process needs to be tested for effectiveness e.g. does it do what it is meant to do?
    2. People using the process need to remain focused on the purpose e.g. why the refund process is in place – for excellent customer service.
    3. Feedback from the people using the process needs to be collected and assessed as potential improvements particularly in regards to inter-department communications to ensure quality of service is maintained.
  4. User friendly for many.
    1. The process needs to be as simple as possible for maximum effectiveness e.g. it is easy to train people to use it.
    2. More than one person can use the process. If only one person knows how to use the process, then this compromises the continuity of the process when that person leaves or becomes ill.
    3. Provide a support network for the people using the process so solutions to problems can be implemented sooner rather than later. This includes having a project leader to ensure every aspect of the process is working and the desired result is consistent.

Having a project leader is a simple and effective strategy to drive to project to completion. This can be quite a demanding role so it is essential the leader is supported by the management team because they are the drivers of the purpose of the project throughout your organisation.

If you have had enough of not getting projects completed and your team would benefit from training in the 4 Essential Requirements of a System in Business then contact Diane Gray for a free consult.

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