5 Simple Ways to Improve the Time Management of Your Project
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Lost time is never found again. ” Time is a valuable resource in any project. Better time management by your project team drastically improves the outlook for project success. This post introduces 5 simple ways to help your project team manage their time.
#1 Virtual meetings
Face-to-face meetings can be expensive when you factor in travel time in addition to actual meeting time, regardless of whether the meeting is across the country or just across the campus. Besides travel expenses, there is also opportunity cost, i.e., what your staff could have worked on instead of traveling to and from meetings. Yet, face-to-face meetings are essential for coaching as well as relationship building in a team. To reap the benefits of meeting face to face while minimizing the travel cost, you should consider conducting virtual meetings with your project team. Web-based video conferencing allows you to meet virtually with your team members anywhere in the world. Best practices are well documented on how to maximize effective communication in a virtual meeting despite its inherent limitations.
#2 Automated time tracking
Time tracking is necessary for many projects. Some projects require the time data to bill for services. Some also use the data as input for performance evaluation and coaching. However, industry experts warn that time tracking can potentially be a productivity killer because project team members may spend too much time on administration rather than on advancing the project. The good news is that software applications can automate time tracking. The automation of time tracking involves the use of software to monitor project team members’ computer activities. While there are pros and cons of implementing employee monitoring, you as the project manager should objectively evaluate if the potential productivity gain outweighs the potential risks for your particular project.
#3 Shared calendars
An often overlooked time-waster is the time spent on scheduling team meetings. If you think scheduling a meeting for a local 9-to-5 team is difficult, imagine the time conflicts for a remote team with all the flextimes. Technology solutions can tackle the aforementioned challenges by enabling project team members to see each other’s shared online calendars. One such technology is Google Calendar which can function as a stand-alone app or as part of a full collaboration platform such as G Suite or Slack. The direct benefits of using technology include a more efficient scheduling process and less frustration for everyone involved.
#4 Shared knowledge
As a project manager, the last thing you want is your team to create something that has already been created and perhaps even optimized by others—‚Äòto reinvent the wheel’, so to speak. To minimize wasted time, an internal knowledge base should be set up so that project team members can query information such as best practices. Many organizations turn to technology for help to capture internal knowledge. A simple solution is to ask senior team members to explicitly document their knowledge in wikis. However, that is very time consuming and inefficient because much of the knowledge is embedded in existing emails, documents and text messages. A more advanced solution is to use an integrated communication and collaboration software platform. For instance, the Slack platform automates the archival, categorization, sharing and searching of team communication contents regardless of their original format (email vs text message). This technology spares your senior members from tedious documentation tasks, but at the same time enables others to still access their knowledge by querying prior communication exchanges.
Training is an investment that you can make to improve the time management skills of your project team. It can be job specific—learn to use new tools or better use existing ones—or it can gear towards developing personal productivity habits. A good individualized training program will ultimately yield good return on your investment of both time and budget.
Time rescued from inefficient or unnecessary tasks can be used instead on advancing the project timeline. This post lists 5 simple ways to help your project team members better manage their time. Note that putting these ideas into practice will not be cost-free because they involve the possible acquisition of new tools and with it, a learning curve for your project team. However, they are still simple and self-contained enough that they can be trialed, implemented and fine-tuned for your project in a controlled and risk-averse manner. As a project manager, you can reap a good return on your investment while maintaining your peace of mind.
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