Your project size is slowing you down. Something that should take a week ends up taking a month. Something that should take a month ends up taking a year. Why? Because of project bloat. Complex processes and systems getting bigger as more time passes and, ultimately, it hurts your productivity.
Here are five ways you can minimise project bloat:
1. Recognise potential threats as soon as possible
Has your productivity taken a hit lately? This is why more leaders need to recognise the potential threats that come with work management. Once you find them, it's always smart to intervene sooner rather than later. It's crucial that someone in your organisation steps in and has the capacity to simplify the project before it gets worse. If that's you, then start by looking at your work processes as a starting point. Most workers use a complex combination of email, shared docs, excel spreadsheets, and random folders to manage their work. Stop firefighting and fix this.
2. Leverage the power of modern project management software
Some information is filed here, a smidgen of data can be found there, and if you ever want a coherent picture of where things stand, you might need to grab a strong coffee and block out the next few days in your already busy schedule – sound familiar?
A significant number of companies are calling on work management tools to help:
- simplify communication
- improve visibility of costs and risks
- reduce tedious work
- improve team productivity
- streamline processes
There are huge advantages to using work management software. Forming a central hub, your entire team will be able to view project details, deliverables, tasks, deadlines, communications, and more.
3. Eliminate as many existing tools, especially if they overlap with others
How do you achieve a big goal when you and your team are juggling random tools and tasks? You finish big projects and achieve even bigger goals by only using appropriate tools which let your team remove all of the disconnect and complexities standing in the way.
Sure, any attempt to streamline workflows using a new project management software can be hard at first. But it's always worth it in the end. People will have to change. But, once you get the hang of it, it changes the way your entire organisation functions. The benefits of a centralised and visible workflow will make everyone's life a whole lot easier.
4. Document the workflow whenever you can
Whether you’re building a piece of IKEA furniture or a high-level ad creative, list every task required (even the small ones) in order to take your project from concept to completion.
As you document the workflow, you will naturally create a process audit. You will quickly be able to see what takes up a lot of time, what can be delegated out, what can be eliminated, what steps can be automated, and so on. You have to be clear with what it is you work on a daily basis. You will need to do this before you're ever able to truly examine and improve your workflow. Everyone in your team and across the business should consider doing this if you want to prevent or minimise project bloat altogether.
5. Clearly define your success factors
Take a hard look at your project. Why are you doing this? What are your expectations? How long should this task take your co-worker? What is the deadline for the whole thing? What will success realistically look like once finished? In other words, begin with the end in mind and define your successful outcomes upfront.
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, once said: "If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, then every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster."
When it comes to modern work management, Covey was spot on. Your core foundation must be strong and reliable. If we want effective working habits, balanced workloads, and unified communications, then we need to define our expectations and success factors ahead of time. Because once you have your ladder on the right wall, and you know how far you must climb, you can start putting the workflow you just defined into practice.
With that said, use all five of these standout ways to ensure that you and your team prevent project bloat and are well-equipped to produce great work!