bottleneck in project management

Bottleneck in project management

Content:

One of the most common bottlenecks in project and task management is work time tracking. This happens when a team fails to accurately track the amount of time that each team member spends working on a project. As a result, the team does not have an accurate picture of how much progress has been made, and this can lead to delays and missed deadlines. There are a few ways to avoid this bottleneck. First, make sure that everyone on the team is aware of the importance of work time tracking. Second, designate one person to be responsible for tracking work time and make sure that they have the necessary tools and resources. Finally, regularly review work time report data to ensure accuracy and identify any potential problems. By following these steps, you can avoid work time tracking bottlenecks and keep your project on track.

The bottleneck in project management

It is the dream of all of us that our company is thriving and all implemented projects end successfully. Unfortunately, even in the best-funded start-up and perfectly designed undertaking, there are always unforeseen obstacles that make some things go differently than we would wish. Bottlenecks suppress the flow of work and delay or even preclude the accomplishment of goals. This is why there can be no doubt: “project suppressors” are best to be identified before they become an issue. What to do if they appear? Fortunately, there are effective ways to streamline the bottleneck.

Changes in task delegation

There is probably no project manager who has not struggled with the sudden absence of a team member. Unannounced holidays, unexpected sick leaves, or days off caused by fortuitous events can disorganize work, and cause delays, and efficiency problems. In a well-managed project, there is no room for situations in which the success of the task depends on the availability of a single team member. As a result, in the event of even a brief absence of the employee assigned with the task, the only way to clear the bottleneck may be to appoint a substitute and delegate some urgent matters to such a person.

Dividing tasks into smaller ones

The reasons that can successfully hinder the implementation of the project include situations when it turns out that the task is extremely difficult and it takes more time to be completed than we originally expected. In such a case, the method of eating the elephant one bite at a time comes to the rescue. A complicated issue that blocks workflow can turn out to be significantly easier to solve if we break it down into smaller fragments. Additionally, if we can delegate some of them to other people, we will give more power to the bottleneck.

Assigning tasks to more than one person to avoid the bottleneck in project management

One of the most frequent reasons for downtimes and delays at a project stage is the excessive workload of some team members. Sometimes it results from HR shortages and limited budgets. In many cases, however, it is simply a matter of unequal work distribution that leads to a failure to use the potential of some of the employees. How can this be solved? The simplest way to alleviate such a bottleneck is to temporarily involve more people in task execution. If we use ICP, it is extremely easy. We can assign any number of users to any task at any time, depending on our needs.

Any project manager or boss will certainly, sooner or later, have to face difficulties affecting the workflow. Critical points can appear anywhere, and tracking them is a never-ending and unrewarding job. You have to be careful, or you might become your bottleneck in project management.

Can virtual assistant help with a project bottleneck

A bottleneck in project management is when one task is holding up the progress of the entire project. This can happen for a number of reasons, but often it is due to a lack of resources or manpower. For example, if you are working on a website design project and your web developer is constantly delays, this will cause a bottleneck. In order to avoid bottlenecks, it is important to plan ahead and allocate adequate resources for each task. Virtual assistants can be a great way to relieve bottlenecks by taking on some of the smaller tasks that need to be completed. This will free up time for the key personnel to focus on the more important aspects of the project. By careful planning and use of virtual assistants, you can avoid project management bottlenecks and ensure that your projects run smoothly.

The bottleneck in the teal organization

In any organization, project management is essential for ensuring that tasks are completed on time and within budget. However, in a teal organization, project management takes on even greater importance. This is because teal organizations rely on self-management and collective intelligence to get work done. As a result, project managers in a teal organization must have the ability to effectively coordinate and motivate team members. Otherwise, the entire organization could grind to a halt. bottleneck In a teal organization, project management is therefore crucial for ensuring that work flows smoothly and that collective intelligence can flourish.

A task management system is only as good as the people who use it. And if those people are working in a bottlenecked organization, the task management system will only amplify the existing problems. In a bottlenecked organization, tasks tend to get stuck at certain points in the process, preventing them from moving forward. This can create a huge backlog of tasks, which can be frustrating for employees and lead to decreased productivity. To alleviates these issues, it’s important to identify the bottlenecks in your organization and find ways to improve the task management process. By doing so, you can help ensure that tasks flow smoothly through your organization and that employees can be more productive.

How do avoid bottlenecks in project management?

The level of difficulty in project management is reflected in the fact that only every fifth project is completed on time, within the assumed budget, and containing all the features and functions specified in the original requirements. Regardless of how high project management expectations are, it is rare that everything goes smoothly.  A lot of failures are caused by errors leading to serious problems, the resolution of which requires the increased expenditure of labor and resources such as project management coaches. Not everything is foreseeable and plannable. However, there are areas to which special attention should be directed. What errors and barriers stand in the way of the project’s success most often and how to avoid them?

Ineffective plans are a source of errors in project management

Regardless of the type of project, no plan is a plan for failure. How to manage a project if it is not known how to measure its effectiveness because a solid work schedule was never worded and approved? Creating too vague plans, which make the effective coordination of activities impossible, is one thing, and a too detailed “timetable” is another, which, especially in long-term projects, loses its topicality very fast. Thus, even though the planning stage is usually time-consuming and requires a great deal of work both from the project manager and from the entire team, the creation of a good, flexible schedule is extremely important (some say, the most important) element of project management. What to do to ensure that the plan does not slip out of control? One of the most effective methods is the Kanban method. The IC Project, which is based on this method, facilitates access to the work schedule for all project participants. Thanks to this, anyone can check what the work is currently being focused on, what the priorities are, and, above all, if there are any problems requiring a response.

Chosen team

No one needs to be persuaded how important teamwork is in project performance. Hard skills, that is, the knowledge and abilities of individual team members, though essential, are not sufficient for us to be certain the goal will be obtained. There is also a human aspect that cannot be forgotten. The manner of communication, the readiness to share knowledge, or the ability to work under time pressure are only a few of the elements which impact the team’s effectiveness. A separate issue is the attitude of people participating in a project. A situation where there is a group of well-prepared people who, in theory, should cooperate, but for some reason lack devotion, is a huge threat.

Errors in communication

Effective communication of all parties participating in a project is key to the efficient performance of each undertaking. Nothing causes problems to pile up more quickly than a lack of information and unclear communication. Often, all it takes is one signal about difficulties in performing a given task, sent adequately earlier, to prevent a serious crisis in a project. This is why determining clear rules and communication methods that will be accepted by all team members is one of the most important challenges for a project manager. Today, it is hard to imagine effective information exchange without the aid of modern tools. ICP proposes a range of functionalities in this area. Two of them are the possibility to communicate in real-time and a well-developed notification system. Thanks to them, we can avoid situations when an important decision or opinion waits for its turn in someone’s mailbox, hindering the work progress.

Project management is an extremely complex task. No wonder errors and slip-ups are experienced even by experienced PMs at each stage of project performance. And though project management errors, as they are commonly known, are a part of our nature and an opportunity to conclude, in some cases, such education may cost dearly.

5 Project management steps to win with bottlenecks

What are the five most important steps on the way to project management success? The right allocation of project manager time is a proven key to every project’s success.

5 Project Management Success Steps

These 5 points described below are equally important: it cannot be that we will keep improving quality with disregard to budget or resources, but we also cannot drag the project forever to fine-tune the product even more. We will get back to that later.

  • Schedule verification: meaning how long our project is to take, what its stages are, and whether everything goes according to plan at any given moment. Why is scheduling important? Let us come back to gastronomy: let us assume that preparing a sandwich for a guest in the coffee shop takes about 7 minutes. During that time, it must be made and served. If we make it earlier, it is economical for us and it helps us prepare the next dish. If not, the next client may wait a bit longer for their order. Naturally, it is a large simplification, but it looks like this more or less. If we are developing an application for the client, we have a deadline provided and must distribute and conduct work to finish a finished product before the set time. Thus, a schedule helps to analyze at which stage we currently are, whether the milestones which we set for ourselves are being exceeded or whether we have any delays. Without a schedule, the entire work seems to be blindly going into things.
  • Quality Verification: We want our product to be of high quality. At the beginning of a project, we set out what we are going to pursue, what we expect, and in what way we are going to meet the client’s needs. It is important for the final product we make, and even the prototype of it, to meet all our assumptions. Gastronomy seems to be a good source of examples here as well: in a restaurant run by a close friend, venison burgers are served. Each burger has a specified portion of meat and additions. The burger restaurant’s high ratings are achieved, among other things, by the high quality of burgers prepared by the kitchen. Quality control takes place at 3 workplaces: the grill, where the meat is fried; during packaging, to see if all ingredients and sauces are properly selected and their weight is appropriate; and The last stage is aesthetic verification. Quite obviously, people eat with their eyes. This is why our project should be verified concerning quality at several stages, because it may turn out that mistakes that occurred at the beginning will translate into low quality at the end of the process.
  • Budget verification: each project has a budget. These are resources, knowledge, and, primarily, money, which we need to pay to our employees, contractors, suppliers, etc. We spend the budget on materials, know-how, work, utilities, etc. Every project’s milestone should be a moment that we will devote to analyzing if we fit into the assumed costs. Many programs to manage projects have the option to verify this state of affairs and inform the users about it. Exceeding the budget may mean that the project will not be finished if we do not acquire additional funding. On the other hand, if we are going to run projects according to lean methodology, we have much greater chances of not only fitting into the budget but saving money as well.
  • Team verification: the people we will work with during the project have a great impact on the success of the project. Jake Knapp presented a certain idea that shows what the project team should look like in the project sprints described by him. This method works with every project because it allows an optimal selection of people. The team should be composed of a decision-maker, a financial expert, a marketing specialist, a customer service specialist, a logistics expert, and a person responsible for the design. Even such a minimalist team, composed of people with narrow specializations, allows efficient and deliberate work. This works because it is always possible to use the knowledge of an expert at any given moment, who will advise or object, and this is important in projects.
  • Stock verification: the stock is all the tangible and intangible things that we will need to perform a task. In the above burger restaurant, it will be burger ingredients, in the developer team—software, knowledge, equipment, etc. When we decide to carry out the implementation, we need to make sure that we possess a sufficient amount of stock and that if we do not have the option to store, we still have the option to constantly supply the stock without undue delays. Why without undue delays? Because a few days of hold-up translates into losses, it may also lead to failure to meet the deadline.

Above we have presented the 5 most important points which appear on the way to the success of a project. They show the direction of activity and what is most important for fast and efficient performance. If we think about them, the chance of finishing the task on time and without unnecessary costs is much higher than when we do not follow the above rules. Blind action might just as well lead us to the finish line, but at what cost?

Each project has a beginning

Whatever project we talk about, it consists of a few stages, if you will, which have an immense impact on its success. A project can be, for example, providing the client with a cup of coffee in a coffee shop; it has to be properly prepared in order so that it meets the client’s needs and it also needs to be prepared so that its sale is profitable for the barista. The situation is similar to other tasks that are supposed to lead us somewhere. This is why it does not matter if we are conducting an agile project, creating a new website, sewing clothes, or even preparing a sandwich for a client in a restaurant; it is important to see each task as a certain path, which has its beginning and end. The beginning of the project management steps could be an idea for a new application or an order placed by the client; the end is the finalization of the task.

Project cost estimation

Exceedance of the planned investment costs, or underestimation of investment, is a frequent mistake in project cost estimation that entrepreneurs from various industries struggle with. There is no golden mean, the panacea, which will allow us to perfectly estimate the project cost. However, several methods and actions can help or significantly limit differences between the planned and incurred expenses. Underestimated projects may lead to huge losses and even the collapse of the enterprise. How to save ourselves from such situations then?

Project cost estimation

For years, Bent Flyvbjerg, a Danish economist and Oxford University professor, has been dealing with the problem of investment cost underestimation. The first scientific publications tackling this matter began to appear at the beginning of the 1970s and regarded select undertakings. However, it was not always possible to analyze all the data, so Bent knew the problem existed but was unable to say on what scale. His studies focused primarily on building projects implemented worldwide. Why did they focus on such projects? He did so as the problem of underestimation occurs most frequently in the building industry, with investments in infrastructure and technological projects, including IT projects.

Many years of his studies show that:

  • Investment implementation costs were exceeded in 9 out of 10 investigated investments, and the probability of exceeding planned costs was 86%.
  • The average exceedance of planned costs was 28%.
  • Interestingly, no significant differences were noticed in investment underestimation due to the period in which the projects were being performed. Undertakings implemented 10, 30, or 70 years ago showed similar data.

At statista.com you can find a comparison of some of the most well-known buildings in the world concerning the percentage of budget exceedance. Any business or organization will have to estimate its costs to function and succeed. This estimation of costs is difficult, as many different variables can affect the final cost of a project. In the business sector, many companies are adopting the teal model or parts of it.

Other interesting data can be found on the Mavenlink blog. They come from different reports and regard various industries, not only the construction one. 4 PM states that 70% of projects fail. On the other hand, hbr.org shows that because of unfinished, often underestimated projects, the American IT market loses 50 to 150 million dollars per year. According to IBM, only 40% of these types of undertakings fit within their budget, quality level, and implementation time. As you can see, statistics are rather cruel and show that project management and good project estimation are problems that are occurring on a larger scale and concern all enterprises, both small and large.

How to protect ourselves against underestimation?

Several schools of advice advise how to reduce the probability of cost underestimation and even how to prevent it in some cases. But before we even get to the implementation of the project, we have to prepare well for work. The planning stage is vital for the entire project. First and foremost, we have to determine what budget we have and adjust our actions to it. The situation gets worse when we are not entirely sure what our financial capabilities are and what resources or supplies we have. It is then more difficult, or sometimes even virtually impossible, to estimate the cost of the undertaking.

If we decide to calculate the project price, we have to follow three main indicators:

  • time-how much time do we have to devote to creating a project or performing a service
  • quality-how good a product we want to release
  • price—how much we will earn after the product is sold

These three indicators have a peculiarity about them: usually, if two are met, the remaining one is not. In other words, we cannot produce something cheaply while also producing it well and quickly, or quickly while producing it well and cheaply. Therefore, at this stage, it is worth thinking about the proper protection of the budget to avoid problems at a later stage. However, what to do, however, when a project is already in implementation and we have to avoid cost exceedance?

First of all, we have to use an appropriate methodology for project management. Agile is said to be one of the most easily adaptable ways to control tasks. This is so as the flexibility of this methodology allows us to easily introduce changes during implementation. It could be said that it is a sequence-based way of managing tasks based on communication, people, cooperation, and response to change.

Another thing to do is to prepare small task teams and determine short working and reporting periods. Let it be one-week sprints. Each team has to perform its tasks within that time. Why can’t short periods protect us against cost exceedance? First of all, these small samples reflect the entire process to some degree. If one of the links fails, we can have an additional team in reserve who will help our personnel. We also need to have a small crisis group on standby, one able to deliver several emergency solutions if a difficult situation arises. For such a group, it is worth preparing a few “test sprints” focusing on “putting out fires” in situations where our project will start to dramatically approach its financial threshold. This group will allow us to respond quickly because it will already have some alternative solutions prepared, one tested “at a laboratory site.”

Communication among the people related to a project is also important. Poor flow of information and correspondence noise can lead to large delays, which often translates into increased total investment costs. This is why it is becoming more and more frequently recommended to use tools assisting in project management. What is the purpose of this? First and foremost, all people related to an undertaking have access to necessary documents and correspondence, and, most importantly, they see at which implementation stage each of the project handling units is working. Thanks to this, it is easier to pinpoint bottlenecks and respond to them.

What software to choose? There are many solutions on the market, both paid and free, which allow you to integrate the team and create the optimal environment for project-related work. The choice of tools primarily depends on our requirements and budget set for the software.

What to do if we still make mistakes in our calculations?

If we start to come close to the budgetary threshold, we should inform the management or clients as soon as possible in the case of external projects. Thanks to this, people who have a direct influence on the budget and the available funds are involved in the further decision-making process. It also allows you to stop the project if the estimated additional costs increase significantly.

Thus, sometimes it seems reasonable to add a tolerance to the assumed costs of 20%, for instance, so that if the assumed costs are exceeded, you will be able to continue working. If these tolerance funds in project cost estimation are ultimately saved, we can return them to the client or redirect them to other activities.

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