Great Time Management Is in the Details

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Bringing together all the aspects of a project — including stakeholders, team members, software tools and project requirements — is just the beginning. Once we gather all the pieces of the project, we cannot sit back and relax. Properly controlling a project hinges on using time management skills to see it through to the end. And those skills consist of these three types of actions:

Reactive. There will always be an aspect of the project that needs to be tended to: risks and issues that may need near turnaround resolutions or disparate interests of team members and stakeholders that need addressing. But it’s how we’ve set the stage for our project that will help us steer the project to the finish line, so allot some time to plan for issues to come up. Always be aware of how your surroundings and other resources may affect your project and how they can be of value at another point. For example, when your project is heading into a critical situation and you have no resources that can help, have a contact at the ready who may be able to get an immediate resolution.
Co-active. This element entails taking collective action toward correcting an off-schedule project. While we set out to have a process for every action, somewhere along the line, the schedule starts slipping or team members aren’t reporting bottlenecks or bad news in a timely fashion. In these instances, reset the tone of your project control. My technique is to keep the scope constantly visible, usually by making sure the agenda has it displayed. However, I didn’t do this on a project years ago. The developers were making ongoing enhancements to the software, ones that would be very useful at a future point. Yet they were very off-scope. The co-active measure was to pull back on the enhancements and redefine the scope to get it to what the sponsor originally requested. I did so by meeting with the sponsor and development team manager and reviewing requirements from the standpoint of:
  • Which elements are most important
  • What doesn’t have to be implemented immediately
  • What has been designed that can be kept
  • What can be released in a quick turnaround
Proactive. But what if a project has components that are not fully defined yet? This is a situation in which we’re not reacting to the existing project or controlling project issues, but instead considering the future: possible risks, another project’s potential impact or information a stakeholder may want. Here I would recommend actively anticipating what may be helpful that has not yet been discussed. And this consideration can be addressed perhaps as an earned value chart, a report outlining project enhancements for future work or something as simple as organizing a meeting with sponsors to ensure there are no new impacts on the rise.
Are there any aspects to managing your time in a project that you see as helping to bring the project to a smooth close?

The views expressed within the PMI Voices on Project Management blog are contributed from external sources and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of PMI.

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