If you are a Project Manager (or manage a team of PMs) you probably have been in this situation. At first, you think it has become simply impossible to manage what your team is doing and jobs seem to never get finished and delivered to the client. Then more tasks pile up. It seems that the solution to all problems is multitasking, meaning passing to the team a lot of activities from different projects ate the same time. By doing this, it seems like your problems are solved.
The feeling that you have control over the process with multitasks can be very tricky. Instead of prioritizing the work and taking the hard decisions yourself, you are passing this responsibility to your team and it shouldn’t be that way. Why? Simple… they don’t have all the information you have and are not in place to take the decisions you should be taking. So, why a lot of us do that?
Because we don’t have a better way of managing what our team is doing and knowing when they will finish their tasks. Then your pile becomes their pile and it is not just a pile of work, it also becomes a pile of excuses. And real excuses, because you know that if you have a lot of priorities, you have none.
The consequences are bad:
– Clients’ trust gets in jeopardy – you are not delivering neither been assertive on new dates.
– Put out fires instead of planning, prioritizing and delivering what’s important.
– Motivation level goes down, since projects take too much time to finish.
– Revenue starts to suffer some hits because you are not in control of what is going on.
– Re-work hours go up.
– To measure performance is almost impossible.
But what can you do? Single task!
This means: give your team a break and let them work on tasks from beginning to end. Make sure that you don’t interrupt them every time something new comes in.
Here are some tips on how to do it:
1- To start a new task, make sure that the previous task was finished and delivered. This helps building trust and a sense of achievement.
2- Provide all the information needed to complete the task. We see this a lot. You assign a task to your team without having all the information (requirements needed to finish it). Then, surprise, they do not finish it.
3- Don’t micro manage it: From our experience, tasks with less than 4 hours should be grouped with others to be assigned.
4- Don’t macro manage it: Tasks with more than 40 hours tend to have bad endings (or no ending at all). If it is more than that, try to break it down in smaller tasks to have better control and help your team to achieve their goals.
5- Make sure you plan tasks with the team and let them know the priority expected from them.
How can Crunchflow help? One of the main features of our system is the resource scheduling engine that has a powerful algorithm behind it. Just to give you an idea, some of our clients have more than 2,000 projects assigned to more than 200 resources (architects, engineers, surveyors). And it all gets related in a scheduling engine that makes possible to delay or advance some tasks and see its impacts on the whole portfolio.
We base this case scenario in single tasking. Look at one of our allocation screens.
If you are the Project Manager, you can see your team’s tasks in two ways:
1- Gantt chart view
2- Kanban view
And this is how your team will see their own tasks
This guarantee to your process:
– Prioritizing – you prioritize the tasks as they may be prioritized.
– Organization – your team knows exactly what needs to be done at any time.
– Achievement – finished tasks will be completed in the system and everyone will know.
– Motivation – If your team know what is expected of them, it is much easier to do it and feel good.
We hope this will get you in a position of at least evaluating the advantages of single tasking.
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