Improving Productivity and Reducing Risk in Project Management

Successful project management requires a blend of multiple skills and It’s fraught with risk.   There will be countless opportunities to improve productivity and numerous risks that could drive productivity in the wrong direction.

The Project Management Institute defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements” (PMBOK Guide, 3rd Edition, Project Management Institute Inc., PN, 2005). Lisa Ahn, in an article posted by notes “It is a discipline of initiating, planning, executing, and managing resources with the goal of completing specific deliverables within budget and time.”   It’s a very tough job made even tougher since many of the people on the project don’t work directly for the project manager. They can be users assigned to the project team, other members from the project manager’s company who work for other people, or even consultants. In addition, on large projects the project manager is usually responsible for communication to an Executive Steering Committee where incorrect information can be career limiting.

Here are four key suggestions from Lisa Ahn to improve project management effectiveness:

Keep Improving Your Project Management Practice

Technology is always evolving to meet the changing needs of users. In the same way, your approach to project management should evolve alongside business and IT processes. Communicate with your team, client, and business partners, as to how you can improve your project management practices.

Visualize and Communicate all Project Deliverables and Activities

In short, the project manager and team must have a picture of the finished deliverables in the minds of everyone involved. This guides everyone in the same direction.

Healthy Risk Management

Assign a risk officer who will be responsible for detecting potential project issues.

  • Maintain a live project risk database that tracks all issues and resolutions.

Open Communication

Communication is vital in all aspects of project management. Adhere to a policy of open communication, encouraging all members to voice opinions and concerns.

Three of the four reference the importance of communication while one focuses on risk management,

There are multiple methods of communicating, but one of the most effective is to communicate via written communication (documents) to ensure that everyone has a consistent view of the plan.

Unfortunately, sending documents by email is prone to version control issues in crowded Inboxes. Recently, an ERP implementation wasted 18 person weeks of effort when a six person team working on one of the modules had the wrong version of a plan from another department that they had to interface with. They were three weeks into development before they realized they had the wrong version of the plan. That is a huge project risk that can be easily avoided.

To avoid the email version control problem, some companies store their project documents in an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. An ECM is usually a great IT solution for data storage, retention, and theoretically version control. However, a study by a major research organization in 2011 found that 60% of the end users of ECM solutions were not satisfied. One of the key issues was the inability to find a document due to a complicated User Interface or a complex file and folder structure. If the project team members don’t use an ECM regularly, they will probably have trouble accessing documents for the reasons noted above. Can the project afford the productivity impact of that problem, the project risk of someone using the wrong version of a document? When the executive steering committee members can’t figure out how to navigate the complicated User Interface of the ECM, how do they get a copy of the document? Simple, they ask their assistant to print a copy. What happens when the executive assistants print those documents at different times? Version control problems AGAIN! Can the project afford the business risk of the executive steering committee members having different versions of a document? Don’t forget, incorrect executive messaging can be career limiting!

In addition to using documents to communicate current plans to all team members and executives, the project manager will normally send documents to project team members for review, for approval, and even for contributions from experts in a specific discipline. On a large project, there will be numerous documents in the review process with multiple people having different delivery dates. How does the successful project manager track all that information and track the risk of late delivery.

SavvyDox will “Keep Improving Your Project Management Practice”. It is being used successfully in two different project management environments to improve communication among team members, to improve overall team productivity, to provide improved document quality and project deliverables as a result of parallel document reviews and to reduce business risk.

SavvyDox provides the next generation of parallel document collaboration with unequalled document version control capabilities. It is an intuitive, easy to use solution that provides end user simplicity. It can even provide a complementary user friendly front end solution to the complicated IT focused ECM. SavvyDox allows the project manager to easily monitor the status of all documents through a centralized dashboard that tracks assigned tasks by due date and can even report on who has read which pages of a document. SavvyDox ensures that all team members and the executive steering committee have the current copy of the documents they need on their desktop or mobile device. The documents can be accessed on line of offline within 3 mouse clicks. SavvyDox is a cloud based solution that can be implemented in days and in some cases hours and the majority of the benefits can be achieved using web browsers. Desktop downloads are available to provide incremental functionality such as the first viable replacement for Word Track Changes. SavvyDox can be easily implemented on a project by project basis or department by department rather than a big bang on all projects.

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