You need a system−part software and part human−that allows team members to spend time inventing the future, not scrambling around to figure out project status.
Imagine the following scenario. Your client, the benefactor who sustains the work you love to do, calls to check on progress of an important project. You’ve had your head in another project for a couple days and have no idea. Do you put the client on hold while you frantically ask the team how the project is going? Do you promise to call back? Either way, your client isn’t getting the best service.
Maybe you do ask your team how the project is going and you get an answer somewhere between OK and we don’t know. Can you afford to let them continue to work, or do you need to stop and spend half the day reviewing everything? Perhaps you noticed that while you’re only halfway through the schedule, you’re almost out of budget. This can send your project into crisis mode, with you looking for any semi-credible bargain to save the project.
Granted, the chaos method of project management works out sometimes. While it does, you might call it being agile. This is like making your strategy for winning a marathon “pretend bears are chasing you”. It’s the idea that if you just care a lot about it, if you let yourself be emotional and excited when things go wrong, you’ll somehow will the project into success.
Instead, design a system. What information about a project helps you decide how well the project is doing? How much time you’ve spent? How much money is coming in? How happy the customer is? The answers will be unique to your situation, and you won’t have a complete list the first few times you ask them. But the answers will let you create a list of metrics you can prepare repeatedly. Then, make some rules about how often you prepare them.
You will find that generating the metrics can be automatic to some degree. Do your employees fill in timesheets? That’s data you can associate with projects with little effort. Your invoices are also in a regular format that can be put into a spreadsheet. When requests come in from clients, they can be left in a jumbled mess in your inbox, or they can be placed into a web app that marks them as pending or done.
Putting these ideas together, you may find yourself checking a web page, selecting a project ID and feeling confidence as you relate to your customer that the project is doing just fine.
At Eighteen Intelligence, we know how to build these systems. Of course, an important part of the system is bolting software together. The other part is inspiring the team to use the tools. The only way to do this is to get the design right. We talk to team members. We gather requirements into a formal specification so that you know what to expect. And we test that our design works.
Are you ready for a project management system? Please contact us! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 925-269-7252.