13 tips for turbocharging projects

Today's rapidly changing business environment requires a faster, stronger, more flexible approach to project management

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The second reason is that the more people are involved in an effort, the easier it is to hide behind the herd. Large project teams enable team members to create the appearance of productivity while actually relying on teammates to cover for their failure to deliver.

Next-gen project management tip No. 5: Keep project timelines short

Human chronology is nonlinear. Psychologically, a deadline two months from now is about four times as far away as a deadline one month from now.

In human terms, a project team whose completion date is more than about six months in the future has roughly forever to complete the project. That's your maximum duration. Three months is better.

Or stop calling what you're doing a project. Go "full agile" instead: Call the practice release management, and organize work into biweekly or monthly increments.

Next-gen project management tip No. 6: Cut big projects into small chunks

In six months, seven people can't always accomplish everything that has to get done. Break any effort bigger than that into a collection of small chunks -- projects seven people can finish in no more than six months.

Next-gen project management tip No. 7: Staff each project in full

A "fully staffed" project is one that never waits for a team member to become available. The alternative isn't simply a delay. It's a cascade of delays, as schedule changes make other staff unavailable when other projects are depending on them.

Next-gen project management tip No. 8: Juggle fewer projects

Fewer projects doesn't mean fewer in total. It means fewer at any given time. If you have enough employees to fully staff three projects and have nine going on at any given time, the first business benefit won't take place until more than three times as long as if you ran only three at a time.

Go further: Stagger project start dates so that different projects don't need the same experts and resources at the same times (for example: your software quality assurance experts and testing environment).

Next-gen project management tip No. 9: Focus

Let employees focus on one project at a time.

It's OK to assign them to more than one project, so long as they know which one comes first and can organize their time so that the needs of one project don't interrupt their work on a different project. Every interruption wastes time and effort as team members get their heads out of one project and into another, as well as when they return to what they were working on.

Next-gen project management tip No. 10: Limit tasks to one week

This is how granular your project schedule should be. With one-week tasks, team members will feel a sense of urgency, and if a task is late, project managers will know early enough to recover.

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