Simplicity is more of an art form than we realize. Albert Einstein once said that any fool can overly-complicate things. To move in the opposite direction- towards simplicity- requires a touch of genius.
If there were ever a project manager mantra, this might be it. Too many organizations make their internal processes more complicated than they need to be and waste a lot of time trying to ensure compliance. Simplicity is more direct and therefore more useful when you’re struggling to make mission-critical decisions for your project.
Here are some tips to get you started.
When something unexpected occurs during the project timeline and a decision needs to be made on how to respond, review your own experience with similar situations. What solution proved to be the most effective? If this is an entirely new scenario for you, ask the team or a fellow project manager for advice. Taking past outcomes into account when making an important decision is both simpler and more efficient than trying to devise an entirely new resolution.
Making the right decision requires a deep understanding of the project’s purpose and goals. Managers facing a dilemma may be tempted to review the original proposal for a solution. While this document can provide a valuable guideline, chances are that the project has evolved beyond these core concepts and you may not find the answer you need in a proposal presented months ago. Maintaining an open dialogue with team members and stakeholders as the project unfolds will give you the level of understanding needed to make important decisions.
On the surface, having a limited number of key decision-makers (such as the project manager and client) appears to be a suitably simple arrangement. We’ve all heard the adage about too many cooks. But what if a decision maker is in a meeting, on vacation, or otherwise unavailable, and an immediate response is needed? Suddenly this arrangement isn’t so simple after all.
The solution: ensure that all decision-makers have at least one party who is authorized to make a decision on their behalf. This way, there is a reduced risk of damaging delays due to the absence of the project manager or the client. It also helps if the project schedule includes the scheduled absences of key participants, so that team members with urgent questions can contact their deputies instead of send a text or email that could take hours to be answered.
There are many powerful project management methodologies, but they aren’t all created equal. Each one was originally conceived to support a particular process and outcome, and when you use the methodology that matches your project specifics, making routine (non-urgent) decisions is a lot simpler.
Gantt charts are used by thousands of project managers to improve team communications, enhance productivity, track progress, and standardize the project in a way that simplifies decision-making. Online project management tools such as Teamweek feature make it easy for you to create Gantt charts that:
Making good decisions is not easy, but that doesn’t make this skill any less vital. According to the Project Management Institute, 47% of unsuccessful projects are affected by poor decision-making.
As a project manager, you need access to key elements that can be easily overlooked when decision-making power is not adequately delegated, or you’re using the wrong methodology for your project, or client directions are unclear. The strategies in this article can help ensure that the right project framework is in place and making the right decision can be done as quickly and efficiently as possible.