We’ve all been there: from the home renovation project that was only going to take a weekend, to the largest multi-year construction projects where the plan, schedule, and costs have all spun out of control. By not sticking to the plan or without having a well-defined plan in the first place, projects can easily get off track. A common problem is that the project management system is more complex than the project so you end up avoiding it. That doesn't work.
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Based on years of planing and implementing enterprise spreadsheet data management projects, we have identified a simple methodology for project management tasks that drives success and isn't intimidating to use. Implementing these five key elements will allow you to be the authoritative voice on your project and manage successfully.
1. Publish a week ahead project schedule.
This is a by-product of a complete project plan showing key deliverables for the week ahead. This weekly view indicates the resource responsible and due date. If delivered consistently week over week, teams build a dependency on this view of the schedule that can be reinforced in meetings and other communications as needed.
2. Connect daily.
We are all social, so having the chance to connect as a team is important. These meetings can and should be quick and brief. Many folks know these are scrums or huddles. Connecting drives communication on a project and is one of the best ways to keep everyone aligned. Everyone working on a project should be invited, and while not everyone needs to attend, tracking attendance helps monitor engagement. Keep the meeting brief, with everyone providing status updates on their deliverables from the week ahead project schedule along with any blocking items. Capturing and sharing notes with everyone quickly after the meeting helps ensure alignment on status and drives focus on urgent items needing resolution. Avoid skipping notes as this can invite controversy and chaos as a project develops.
3. Share an agenda for weekly meetings.
We only learn when we listen, so it’s good to give folks a chance to be heard. Sharing the planned agenda for a meeting facilitates an opportunity to listen and allows different team members a chance to contribute. Weekly meetings themselves are a forum to provide updates to the team including a review of the planned project status report for the week. This meeting also provides the opportunity to listen, realign, and re-plan as needed. Closing the meeting with a forward looking view of what’s coming next week allows for the setting of project expectations for the week ahead with the team and helps reinforce the forward momentum that we all like to be a part of.
4. Post notes from the weekly meeting.
This should be a rollup from the week on all open items, assigned tasks, issues, risks and status of achievement. This is a great way for everyone on the team to see the status of deliverables matched against the weekly schedule for the current week and the first look of the week ahead project schedule, which helps kickoff this cycle for the week ahead.
5. Submit, review and update weekly reports.
Weekly reports are something you can and should share widely. It should be something that’s reviewed with the project team prior to publishing. To be valued, project reporting needs to have consensus and buy in from the project team even when there is bad news, and sometimes there is. Finding the consensus makes the report a collective project story. Once a project report is published it shouldn’t be changed, but instead should be the project story book until updates can be made the following week.
Faithfully executing these five project management tasks will help you move projects forward, and if done week in and week out with consistency, this process drives momentum and execution on a project by ensuring alignment across the whole team. Teams learn and adapt to what is specifically required of them and how they can contribute.
At xOverTime we track and score our project teams on these metrics as we believe they are leading indicators for healthy projects. The consistent execution of these tasks allows project leaders to own the authoritative voice on the project. Reach out if you need help developing your enterprise data spreadsheet project.