“We were spending too much time meeting with vendors and not enough time racking up billable hours,” Skipworth says. “We didn’t need a consultant, a project manager, and a software architect attending every client presentation. But before we could set limits, we needed to see where our time was going.”
PPM is all about visibility. “IT managers need to know they have the right people working on the right projects, and that their time is optimized,” says Innotas’ Carlson. “We give them visibility into all this information in one place.”
Skipworth says it took about two weeks to get running on the Web-based PPM, mostly gathering and entering data, and cost from $15 to $40 a month per seat. Now some 250 Compugen employees use the app to prioritize how much time they devote to projects, so the company can focus on those that have the greatest impact on the bottom line.
7. Stop micromanaging
If you can’t get your work done each day, there’s a good chance it’s because you’re busy doing someone else’s job, says Chaco Consulting’s Rick Brenner. Inexperienced managers in particular are often guilty of taking their old jobs along with them to their new assignments, which leads to micromanaging and a host of other problems.
There’s no quick fix for micromanaging, but there is a fast way to figure out if this is your problem. Start by making a list of things you’re doing that you shouldn’t be doing, then list the parts of your job you don’t get to each day. As you winnow the first list the second one will also shrink, when you realize all of the other things you should be doing but aren’t.
“You’ve got to ask yourself, ‘What is my job?’” Brenner says. “With most of my clients, part of their job is to develop the people who are working for them. When I ask them ‘What did you do today to develop someone else’s skills?’ the answer is usually ‘Nothing.’ They’re not doing their jobs.”
Stepping in and doing the job for your reports only makes the problem worse, Brenner adds. The key is teaching your staff the skills they need to stand on their own. That may require outside training, allocating more resources, or finding ways to reward productive workers without necessarily promoting them into management.
“A lot of IT managers tend not to delegate, either because they’re control freaks or they think no one else can do it as well as they can,” says Brendan Courtney, vice president for Spherion, a $2 billion staffing and recruiting firm. “They also tend to not hire people they perceive might be better than them. What they don’t realize is that if they hire people who are better and delegate authority, it will further their own careers.”
8. Double your displays
Sometimes, adding inexpensive hardware can give your bottom line a boost. In May, insurance firm The Durkin Agency moved 20 of its claims adjustors, data entry clerks, and IT employees to a dual-monitor setup using 19-inch flat panel displays. The result? A 10 percent increase in the number of insurance claims the firm processed each day, along with increased employee satisfaction, says vice president Eileen Durkin.
Multiple monitor configurations are gaining in popularity, says Derek Timm, national technical services manager for WorkRite, which sells the articulating arms Durkin uses in its dual-display workstations.