Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Inch Is Better Than a Mile (in the Right Direction)

By Cobalt Project Manager blog

In most aspect of life I like to get things done quickly and move onto the next task. Cooking and washing the car, for example, are a couple of tasks which I like to race through as much as possible. However, when it comes to running a project there are times when it is far better to move forward an inch at a time rather than a mile, as long as you are going in the right direction.

Get More Quality

It can easy for a project to run away from you if you get too far ahead of yourself. If you are trying to finish the whole thing as quickly as possible then you run the risk of letting some aspects of the work slip out of you control. What I didn’t mention earlier on was that when I rush through my home chores I sometimes burn the rice or leave streaky marks on the car. The thing is, you can either do your tasks really well or you can do them really quickly. Doing both of these things isn’t always possible. When you are sponging down your car of making your dinner it is up to you whether you opt for speed over quality but in the project world it is always the quality which has to come first whenever possible.

Resolve Issues

You might find that as you progress through the project issues crop up. It isn’t always possible to see in advance what problems are going to appear on the horizon so it makes perfect sense to go forward slowly but steadily and clear these up as they appear. If you get too far ahead too quickly then you might be onto the next stage before you realise that there is an issue from the work you just finished. It sounds like a great idea to rush ahead with your work and get ahead of schedule but if you do this then you could end up having to re-do some of your tasks because you completed them before you knew what possible issues were waiting for you further down the line.

Give People Time to React

When you explain at the start of the piece of work what you are planning to deliver your stakeholders and end users might nod and agree that it is what is needed but do they fully understand it? It might not be until they seem concrete evidence of your advances they become fully aware of what is all about. This isn’t a criticism of these people, as it isn’t their job to visualise the end product of a project. If anything, it is your job as the project manager to make sure that everyone who is involved in the piece of work knows what it is all about. If you don’t do this then what you might find is that once you show them some competed work they finally work out what it is your doing and how it will impact them. This means that they might ask you to change something or realise that there are problems in store if the work carries on in the same way. This clearly is far from an ideal situation but it is even worse if you have zoomed ahead on the next phase before you have given them time to react to the initial tasks.

Stick to the Plan

Your plan is there for a reason and while getting ahead of the game has its merits you will ultimately want to stick to it fairly closely. There are a number of reasons for this and some of them overlap with the previous reasons we have given. If you end up way ahead of your plan then something has probably gone amiss along the way. Personally, when there is a bit of free time after completing our scheduled I like to take advantage of this in other ways rather than getting way ahead of the plan. For example, this can be a great time to get some training sessions organised or to plan a team away day to bring everyone up to speed with the progress to date. There are some times when you can safely move ahead and carry out your next set of tasks without any worries but most of the time I would suggest that there are things you can do which would be more profitable for you and your team in the long run.

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