In order to save time, you have to change some of ways you do things. We all are prone to habitual behavior. And once you are in the habit of doing something it is difficult to break the cycle and shift to doing something else. Difficult, not impossible.
Here are 5 ways you can save time on your projects without sacrificing resources, quality or cost.
1. Share Knowledge
Knowledge sharing is one of the fastest ways to build trust and set a culture of transparency on a project team, and a team that has access to information easily can accomplish their work effectively.
And knowledge sharing is easy to do! Online project management tools make it so easy today to share information about tasks and the project overall. They have collaboration features built in, like online file storage, instant messaging, commenting on documents and chat threads, and shared calendars and task lists. All these things help promote collaborative ways of working and let individuals share information securely within the team.
More than just moving all your project management online, however, is establishing a culture of shared information between your team members and between your team and the rest of the organization. When you inspire open dialog, enable access to critical documents and develop a culture of collaboration, you’ll reduce your overall admin time considerably.
2. Be a Timesheet Advocate
Everyone hates ‘em, yet timesheets provide essential data for today’s work management systems. It’s not enough to ask your team to use them; you really need to advocate for their benefits across the org. Timesheets help the team review estimates, check that work is progressing according to plan and schedule the work evenly across the team members so that no one person is overloaded. Without project timesheets, you can’t easily find out how long a task is taking so you never learn from that experience. You also save time in the long run when your team does the work of timesheet data input for you.
You’ll want to set up timesheets that link them to your project plan so that tasks can update automatically. This will save you time in the long run when it comes to getting status updates from your team.
3. Team Building
It can be trendy to assume with collaboration culture, team building is no longer needed. Yet taking a hands-off approach to management can often result in your team being or feeling neglected. Interpersonal conflicts may not be communicated to you, which could result in time and work lost. Additionally, when you have online project tools it’s tempting to forget about team meetings.Project teams need the chance to get together to review progress and status collectively. You can do that using collaboration tools – you don’t have to physically all get together in one location to have a meeting.
Project teams also need actual team building experiences and you’re the most likely person to ensure that happens on your team. Plan a team dinner or invite remote team members on site for kick off or mid-project gatherings. You gain time when you make time for the team to develop team health.
4. Use Templates
Some people think that it takes too long to find and revise a template so they prefer to create a document from scratch. The math just doesn’t add up. If you use the right templates and use your online project document storage to ensure that they are easy to find, it takes far less time to add information to an existing template than it does to get in the proper mindset to create a document architecture.
Help your team save time, too. Ask your colleagues for copies of documents so that you can use their layouts as a template. Start your own mini-library of documents that you can customize for other projects. Create a shared folder of document templates where everyone can access it and store your files in there.
5. One Word: Dashboards
Dashboards are graphical ways to represent project status. They use graphs and charts to easily show how the project is going and to highlight any areas of concern. One bad habit managers often have is presenting long paragraphs of text in their project reports even when the same information could be easily produced as a color-coded chart.
More often than not senior leadership and stakeholders will not read long chunks of text, even if they are supposed to read your status reports. However, they can’t help but glance at charts and graphs and if they do they will get all the information they need about the project without having to do any reading at all.
Set up standard dashboards on your project, pulling data in real-time from your project schedule and timesheets. Even if you have to print it out and leave it on your manager’s desk you will have a better chance that they see and act on the information in your project status reports. Plus, you’ll save valuable time producing your reports.