It’s rare for projects to be delivered on time. According to statistics, fewer than one-third of all projects are completed on time, and 75% of IT executives believe their projects are “doomed from the start.” Make your company the outlier by applying these three strategies:
1. Provide basic time management training
You can’t actually manage time – it moves with or without you – but you can manage your tasks. This important distinction erases the notion of not having enough time to get something done. To develop a team that delivers projects on time, basic time management training is essential. There are multiple time management techniques you can learn, but the foundation always centers on task management.
Train your team members to:
- Schedule everything they promise or need to do. For instance, returning phone calls, emails, and meetings. If it’s not scheduled, it won’t get done on time. Procrastination undermines well-meaning efforts.
- Create an end time for all phone calls and meetings. Decide ahead of time how much time they will give each person. Whether it’s fifteen minutes or an hour, that should be predetermined before they make the call, and immediately communicated to the person they’re speaking or meeting with.
- Stick to all predetermined end times for meetings and phone calls. No matter what. Part of time management is managing how other people have access to your team’s time. Train your team not to give anyone free access to their time. Train them to train the people they connect with that an hour means an hour.
- Avoid scheduling tasks back-to-back. For instance, say they’ve got a 30-minute phone call scheduled for 3pm. The call is expected to end at 3:30pm, but nothing should be scheduled until 4pm. This buffer of time allows for inevitable breakdowns that occur out of anyone’s control. A previous call may have run over by ten minutes, and having the extra 30 minutes means they don’t have to rush that person off the phone.
2. Provide your existing project managers with high-level certification courses
Project manager is a title that should be earned with proper training, but often isn’t. An untrained project manager might be naturally good with organizing and leading teams, but they can multiply their effectiveness with training like the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification program. PMP certification universalizes project management on a global scale and provides vast value to the individual and their employer. Most notably, as stated in the Pulse of the Profession study from 2015, organizations with PMP certified project managers complete more projects on time.
PMP certification has specific requirements, but contrary to popular belief, EdWel.com explains the prerequisites, and they’re easy to meet. For example, a person with a four-year degree needs to have 4,500 hours leading and directing projects while a person with a high school diploma or AA degree needs 7,500 hours leading and directing projects. If you’ve got a team member without a 4-year degree, they qualify for certification if they’ve been a project manager for a little over 3.5 years.
3. Train team members to collaborate on deadlines
Independent team members often feel like they should be able to prioritize their tasks alone. When their tasks don’t depend on other tasks, an individual should be free to create their own deadlines. When a team project is a complex weave of overlapping tasks that depend on one another, deadlines and priorities need to be a team effort.
To accomplish this collaboration, have all team members write down their responsibilities and tasks. Then, hold a meeting to determine where the contingencies are. Develop a hierarchy of importance and deadlines based on those contingencies. Some team members will be surprised to learn other people depend on their tasks to be completed before that person can move forward.
For instance, say your marketing team is working on materials for a new product line. Your copywriter can’t write your email sequence until they know the name of the product, its price point, and the purchase terms. Your website developer needs the same details plus product variations and shipping information to create the sales pages.
If your product development team hasn’t decided on how the item will be packaged, you won’t know how it’s going to be shipped, which means you don’t know what to charge for shipping so your web developer can’t promote the product. Until you collaborate to find contingencies, some tasks won’t seem like priorities.
Delivering projects on time will impress your clients
Surprise and delight your clients by delivering their projects on time. When you do, they’ll trust you and want to work with you more in the future.