Efficient time management is one of the essential skills of every Project Manager. The next lines will help you to improve your development project by managing time efficiently.
I have occasionally heard that a good Project Manager (PM) is the one who needs to intervene in the project only in very specific situations because he/she previously defined processes and effectively delegated tasks.
In an ideal scenario, this sounds really nice, and it is what we all aim for. However, reality is generally more complicated (and cruel). Often, we see the PM with a full agenda, overlapping meetings, working overtime, and with a high level of stress. In the end, all of this is transferred to the team in a negative way, making them feel pressured and demotivated.
While we know that projects usually get complicated in multiple aspects, it is also true that many stressful situations arise from a lack of organization in the distribution of time and priorities. Therefore, efficient time management is one of the essential skills of every PM.
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With this in mind, the next lines will help you to manage time efficiently and avoid the aforementioned problems.
1. Reduce meetings in both quantity and length
In the TED talk, Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work, Jason Fried, CEO and co-founder of Basecamp, assures that the modern office’s real problem is caused by what he calls “M&M” or Managers and Meetings.
We have all experienced having to interrupt our creative and/or productive moment for a meeting. However, when this happens often, it ends up becoming a serious problem. In fact, according to the British Psychological Society, 11 million meetings are held in the United States alone, resulting in losses equivalent to 32 billion dollars.
How many times have you interrupted an important task for a meeting and then had a hard time getting back to what you were doing? How many times have you left a meeting with the feeling that it could have been easily replaced by an email? How many times have you attended a meeting in which you did not contribute and did not learn anything new either?
Meetings absorb a lot of the time that a project needs instead, so it is a good PM’s duty to make the most of them. Meetings during projects are like salt in food – you need just a bit, but if you go beyond the necessary, it can spoil everything.
Therefore, before each meeting, think about the following:
- Is it really necessary?
- Make sure everyone is on time
- Call only the people involved or those who have ideas to contribute and/or validate.
- If someone should be informed of the outcome of the meeting, they do not need to participate in it. Sending them the meeting minutes is fine.
- Make clear in advance what the agenda of the meeting will be so that everyone knows what topics will be discussed.
- Whoever does the moderator duties must avoid digressing from the agenda. If something new comes up, it can be seen later, either at the end of the meeting or another time.
2. Promote fluid communication
While achieving fluid communication between those who take part of the project is every PMs goal, it is also important to understand the communication errors that often cause time-wasting and, consequently, money losses.
One of these mistakes is not making use of technology nor choosing the right collaborative tools. While there are many of them in the market (with their respective pros and cons), you should choose the one that best suits the circumstances of the project, considering the distribution of the equipment, technical limitations, and the customer’s needs, among other factors.
Spend some time researching, testing, and choosing the tools that will be used throughout the development. It is better to devote a little time on this and not waste it in the future, all because you made a wrong choice.
Speaking of tools, email is still a relevant communication tool; however, it is common to fall into the temptation to notify everyone about everything that happens in the project. An excess of emails will result in people wasting valuable time in the review or missing something important and urgent on the road.
Leaving technology tools aside, the Daily Meeting is a fundamental tool that every PM must rely on to know the status of the project. Communication about this and other meetings established in the project (using the Scrum methodology, for example) is key to achieving success. Knowing how to get the best out of each of these meetings and conducting them without exception will help optimize the whole team’s time to be more productive.
Do not miss this infographic: 3 tips to get the best out of each Scrum meeting
3. Be ready for action and manage the risks wisely
Consider the risks that the project may face. Keep in mind that including risks within planning means you are thinking about how to optimize time in difficult moments without sacrificing product quality. What could possibly go wrong? What impact would it have? What would be the contingency plan?
Carefully analyze at what stages of the development process risks may arise and smartly plan how to address each situation.
4. Effectively delegate tasks
A good PM works as a team and knows how to delegate tasks to each member. Being a leader does not mean doing it all so you can be in control of the situation. Being a good leader also means giving each person, depending on their role and abilities, the tasks he/she considers are best for that person to execute in a timely manner.
Delegating will effectively help avoid rework, dead time, or downtimes.
Take a look at this: Five of the most effective software project leadership tactics
5. Maintaining a To Do List
Having a Things To Do list with the most important topics to work on during the day is an important step when it comes to optimizing time to the maximum. It is a way to help us detect those things that deserve more attention and priority. Ultimately, it helps us organize our way of working throughout the day.
6. Do not seek perfection if productivity is compromised
How many times have we met people who are constantly redoing their work? It is clear that redoing involves improvements, but often, that drive to improve and improve (tirelessly) does not seem to stop and ends up being a problem.
Being able to detect mistakes and opportunities for improvement is important but so is not losing sight of the delivery times, the fulfillment of commitments, and the expectation of those awaiting the final result.
In line with the previous point, we should be able to identify errors that must not be overlooked and try to resolve them as soon as possible. If time is pressing, opportunities for improvement that are not priorities will have to wait for another time.
To Sum Up
We are living in times of great intensity, where projects and business opportunities move at high speed. As work teams that are an essential part of any business, it is fundamental to reach high efficiency levels that make it not only possible to deliver results according to what is expected, but also in the times set by the business and the market.
To make this possible, teams must reach optimal levels of maturity and efficiency, which are ultimately achieved with the experience and with the focus on all the edges of the development process that can go beyond the purely technical ones.
Do you know any other strategies that are effective in optimizing the time and productivity of your development projects?
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