vector graphics, modern flat illustrationEven 16 years into the 21st century, there is a very common story about companies that are not leveraging the wealth of information on employee performance to their advantage. Typically, these organizations prefer their employees to stay on their desks for longer hours as a measure of productivity, motivation and commitment. In these cases, poor project management is cured by merely expanding the scope with more and more time effort.

Another sign of disrespect to performance information is a killing culture of long meetings, or even of just too frequent meetings for any topic that requires any kind of interaction –it doesn’t really matter whether you have 5 one hour meetings or one deadly, heart-melting 4 hour meeting: your work will be frozen just the same. Sometimes, organizations that try to be agile fall into this trap.

If your company is suffering from this kind of counterproductive culture that kills productivity, there are basically two ways you can change it.

Become a Dane (yes, it’s unlikely)

Your name is Richard Heart? Change it to Rikkard Hjertsen. Move your company’s HQ to Denmark, where people finish their workday regularly before 5 and still manage to get their stuff done. They say the trick is simply trust in the work completed.

Or turn Dane in your own territory. Netflix did a similar thing in 2012 when they abolished the notion of holidays for an unlimited time off policy of “freedom and responsibility”. But there’s a wicked angle to it: after just x months into this major shift, the HR manager who coined the new holiday culture was fired, and many employees are actually taking less time off to prove their commitment. Back to square one. In other words: when unnuanced, major policy shifts are likely to have unintended consequences. And they can be really hard to heal.

Other companies have been more realistic about their Danification: Spanish utility company Iberdrola simply shuts down their offices after 3 pm and forces their employees to stay focused for seven-hour shifts starting at 8 am. For a Spanish company, it’s a big deal, and so far it’s worked well.

Be smart about your people processes

The opposite way is to actually be smart about what I call your people processes.

People processes are all the organizational flows in virtue of which you assign responsibilities, allocate tasks, measure completion and (what is often overlooked) get back to people to make sure they understand what their value contribution is.

You will have to be attentive to all the nuances in your company, and treat people differently corresponding to their personalities, working styles, objectives and effectiveness.

There is no simple treat for smart people processes, but here are some recommendations that can help you find the right path.

People processes start SMART

SMART objectives can align project management and people management processes. Treat your employees with goals that are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-bound!

Recruit objective-oriented talent

Try hard to recruit people who prefer to work based on objectives. Of course, this is easier said than done; but some things that you should be looking at in the recruitment process are resumes that display clear achievement narratives; interviewees who are energized by challenges; and employees who don’t mind taking some work home during high peak but are intelligent enough to prioritize properly.

FIFO, not FILO

Build business dependencies to reward employees who come in first and get the job done. With no surveillance into the processes, it’s easy to transform First In, First Out personalities into First In, Last Out burnout promises.

Identify critical data

This is the essential resource management data for project management:

  • Allocation gaps: Of the total amount of man-hours estimated for a project, how many of them have been assigned to your resources?
  • Utilization: How many man-hours are currently assigned to each of your resources? Are any of them currently having a problem of underutilization or overutilization?

An important problem of resource management data is its exhaustiveness and reliability. In other words, you need to be sure that when a resource appears as underutilized, he or she is not actually working on tasks that haven’t been registered.

That’s why you should make sure that the project management software you use meets three conditions:

  • It allows you to view and compare allocation gaps and utilization stats so you can pivot your assignments and identify bottlenecks
  • It is properly enforced and used by all project managers and team members
  • It allows for a program and portfolio vision, so you scale utilization at the organization level

It’s really easy to adopt ITM Platform to meet all three conditions:

  • Easy adoption. Our SaaS deployment, easy rollout and licensing policies allow to have project managers, portfolio owners and team members on the same platform. Additionally, with the ITM Platform Teambot team members can report their efforts directly from their Slack chatbox.
  • ITM Platform is an industry leader in Project and Portfolio Management.
  • Our resource management functionality combines allocation gaps and utilization statistics in a unified vision at the portfolio level.
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Iterate on your data

Of course, you will have to look back at your project management data and ask a few questions, which can be addressed in project post-mortems or at a more strategic level.

You basically want to know why your performance forecasts aren’t met.

For example, you may have an average 35% excess between the estimated hours and the final effort devoted to a project. But unless you look into it with more detail, you won’t be able to know whether the problem lies in:

  • Low productivity of task and project members
  • Unforeseen events
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Or a combination of all

You can build several HR analytics into this evaluation process, and the layer can be as complex as you want it to be. However, it’s good to keep in mind that your human resources are people and you will need to treat them with flexibility: beware of decisions based solely on data!

For example, you could start by looking at the estimation accuracy per worker, per type of project or per project manager, and start creating baseline metrics. This could then help you better compile requirements and tune time estimations to how your experts actually work.

Go beyond your usual toolkit: Social Network Analysis and others

Utilization and allocation gap metrics usually allow to identify bottlenecks, but they may not be enough. You may be interested in supplementing them with analysis of how your organization actually communicates. For example, a social network analysis based on your reporting procedures will allow to view who are the formal gatekeepers in your organization; while an empirical study of real information flows will allow you to see who is actually blocking or facilitating the processes.

Have you ever used other type of analysis and metrics? What’s your smart approach to HR analytics, and how does it contribute to improving your project management processes?

Jaime González-Capitel
Senior Content Strategist
ITM Platform
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Sacrificing a project or task when you realize that it is not developing properly can lead to giving more explanations than you would like, or managing the frustrations of the team. However, taking the necessary steps will allow you to rescue the project, save the final result, or even the company!

If both financial and human resources are assigned to a particular task it is because the expected results are worth it. Devoting efforts and resources to a fruitless task involves a twofold cost: firstly the wastage of these resources in a task that will not bring the desired result. On the other, it means less resources for other tasks or projects that could be better developed if they had the required resources.

Therefore, deciding to rescue a lost project or to abandon it within good time are difficult but essential decisions for a well-run company.

How to recover a seemingly lost project? In this article we answer this question.

41240696 - a two african-american businessmen. man on top is happy while sitting and man in bottom is sad while standing. rivalry concept. a contemporary style with pastel palette soft blue tinted background with desaturated clouds. vector flat design illustration.

Recognizing errors

The first step, though it may be obvious, is the most important. When a project goes wrong, the first thing is to acknowledge it.

In many cases, a way to know if the project can present problems during its implementation is to have completed the proper planning of risks and how to identify them. Identifying these risks, will allow you to take effective measures to rescue the project.

Additionally, before the implementation of the project there must be a series of planned milestones, which allow you to know if the end result will satisfy the established customer expectations. Of course, a task will require monitoring to ensure that goals are being achieved and deviations are forecasted in time. Do not forget to communicate with your client what your estimates are, either through regular reporting procedures or when there is a significant change.

The recognition of an error can serve as a starting point for analysis, both at the company or individually, in search of the aspects that can be improved.

Also, there is no single answer to the temporal dimension: if the risk is imminent, it may be important to launch the analysis during project implementation even if this may slow down the work. In other cases, the best phase for analysis is a post-mortem analysis.

If you want to know more, we recommend reading this article: How do I know if my project is on track?

If there are no other solutions, abandon the project 

Once you have identified that the project is likely to fail, the next step is to consider whether it makes sense to continue with it. As mentioned above, an active project inevitably consumes resources. It would be appropriate to consider whether it makes sense to continue to devote these resources to a project that you know will not get the desired results or if it is better to cancel the project and devote those means to other more viable projects.

The opportunity cost of keeping a failing project is the loss of resources which other projects could use in order to achieve the expected results.

A defeat on time can be a final victory. Therefore, identifying the risks and probabilities of failure of a project are essential to ensure the ultimate success of a global project or a company.

Seeking external support 

Sometimes it is difficult for oneself to find ones’ own mistakes. Whether it be pride or self-indulgence, we tend to think that what we have done is right, and overlook certain things.

An example is computer programmers. In most companies, when developing software programs, they are not tested on the same computer that they have been created. This is because they have observed that the review is more comprehensive and objective when performed by an external evaluator.

Self-evaluation tends to be more benevolent and more easily satisfied.

In addition, an outside observer, especially an experienced one, can make for a valuable and objective opinion.

It is possible that, entertained with superficial problems, we may be ignoring other deeper and more fundamental problems within the project. These are the essential problems that should focus all of our attention.

Pursue small victories 

Although completing an entire project can seem overwhelming and complex, often it is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get excellent results. A small victory every day can culminate in a final success.

What are those little victories? One of the secrets for daily excellence is quite simple: it is to meet each day with the corresponding tasks in the most appropriate manner, with the greatest effort and dedication. This daily combination of efficiency and effectiveness is the key to long term success.

Good engineers mastered this art: the face of such overwhelming projects as a bridge, an aircraft carrier or a new software, the secret is to analyze the ultimate goal, break it down into the smallest components as possible and organize work around those parts.

Instead of an incomprehensible goal lasting a few months, both the project leader and team members can focus on the day-to-day tasks at hand. The challenge of motivating the team can be attributed to the concentration of daily work, reducing the concentration of daily work therefore eliminates the anxiety about the complexity of the project and provides productivity-focused components.

Using more resources is not (always) the best answer 

Try to think of the attention and motivation as the psychological capital of the company. This has helped me to realize one important rule: to manage resources, the most important thing is not how much I have and can mobilize, but how to distribute and control them.

I do not want my employees to be distracted in trying to understand the whole project cycle and trying to juggle what they are developing as well as what the responsibilities of another unit are. I want them to focus on their own tasks, maximize their energy and motivation and achieve maximum productivity.

When transferred to financial, material or human resources, the standard is still true: the most important thing is not how many resources are used, but how they are distributed. Companies that achieve greater success are not those with more means and less input. Google started in a garage.

Resources are not the difference between a successful company and one that fails. The key is in how those resources, and projects that leverage them, are managed. If you want to stay competitive, ITM platform offers a simple management solution that allows you to make appropriate use of resources and bring your projects and your company success.

 

Top 5 most read blogs on ITM Platform:

The Monte Carlo Method in Project Management

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Three disastrous project management failures

The project in the face of adversity: what should a project manager do?

What is the Virtual Sock Management or Periodical Online Management?

 

Juan Delgado Moraleda

Blogger ITM Platform

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A professional business is only as successful as the projects they do for their clients. Whether they are short or long term, making clients happy is the focus of the company. If projects fail, the business can lose their source of revenue. This, in turn, can end the business.

As your company continues to grow, the risks that come with not managing it effectively do as well. Right now is when you need to focus on avoiding three deadly project management mistakes that managers continue to make!

1

1. Failing to effectively communicate with clients

According to the results found in a recent study conducted by Accelo, communicating with clients is one of the most important influences that determine whether a project will be successful or not. Over 90% of the participants believed that e-mail is one of the top communication methods to be used while working on projects. The reason this may be the case is because many companies don’t have access to project management tools or softwares that provide them with alternative options. Therefore, they are left with less effective choices such as e-mail.

Solely relying on e-mail is stifles productivity because it creates silos between teammates. Project members have more difficulty quickly communicating with one another because e-mail is built for communication amongst only a few individuals, making it hard to share important information without creating long chains of communication.

As your team begins to grow and you have more work and projects in your hands, it will become increasingly problematic to try and keep track of all of the information being passed around and ensure everyone is aware of even the smallest project details. The solution isn’t to completely replace e-mailing. You should integrate a project management software that will work side-by-side with e-mailing by providing teammates with an alternative platform they can use for immediate communication and collaboration, saving e-mail for less urgent work.

2. Ineffectively tracking your budget

While the logical choice would be to connect a timesheet with your project management software to prevent this from occurring, only 30% of managers choose to do so. That’s right, once again Accelo found that approximately 69% of companies are left in the dark by manually calculating the time and budget needed to complete a project. This can easily lead to long delays and financial catastrophic failures for projects.

Even though this may seem to only impact individual projects, it has the potential to do damage to the entire firm in the future. Projects will need to be consistently monitored with the help of a project management tool. It’s important to understand how your budgets are impacting project success and whether or not the project is profitable. Knowing this information will be extremely beneficial when planning sales approaches for future projects.

Since payroll is one of the biggest expenses for most companies, losing track or creating an inaccurate picture of employee resources and time can be catastrophic. As a project manager, you have to make sure you do not take on any new projects or clients without knowing how much staff you have. Employees can easily end up overworked and stretched to their limits, missing deadlines and exceeding budgets.

3. 3. Not managing all projects- even the short ones

For the most part, professional services have relatively short projects that need to be done. The majority can often be completed in under 3 months. However, this creates a common misconception that short-lived projects require less effort and have a small impact on the company if they fail. In return, over 27% of service projects end up going over budget. And since Accelo found that the average profit margin of firms is approximately 15% per project, this would mean that failing at a single project could wipe out all revenue and profitability for that company for an entire year. All in all, the business would need to then have two successful projects in order to make up for the money lost in the unsuccessful one.

All growing businesses need to take a step back and re-evaluate their project management team. See if any changes need to be made and consider implementing new technology into the business to help ensure success in the long run.

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