A Project Worth Doing is Worth Doing FAST

fast-post If the world won’t be a better place once your project is completed, then your project isn’t worth doing.

If the world will be improved when your project is done, then by all means, get it done as quickly as possible so the world can reap the benefits! Despite this common sense realization, companies and teams everywhere act as if they have all the time in the world to complete a project. Part of the cause if often a  lack of resources and doing too many projects at one time, resulting in too much much multi-tasking, ineffective project coordination and (drumroll please…) fewer projects actually getting done. Interestingly, when projects start continually taking longer than planned to complete, customers push for more projects to be started earlier, which only makes the problem worse. The longer a project takes, the more likely it will be time and money wasted.
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee Tweet
Contrary to popular opinion, projects in process are a liability, not an asset. While unfinished projects have potential value, the longer they stay in an unfinished state, the higher the chances are that they will miss the mark when they finally are completed. Perhaps the reason the project was started is no longer valid. It might be that the market, customer or technology changed during the time you and your team were flailing about while trying to finish too many projects at one time. As well, the longer a project stays in process, particularly if it goes into a stalled state, the greater the chances are that one of the risk factors in your project will manifest. Perhaps a team member will be swept away onto another project or even quit the team. Here is one tactic that can help to get more projects done faster.

The Ready in ‘Ready, Set, Go’

Before you GO FAST, Make sure you have everything that you need to start the project before you actually begin. This is sometimes called ‘Full Kitting’ in manufacturing, referring to the fact that it simply doesn’t make sense to start building a widget until you have all of the parts required to make it. This is the Parts Kit. fast-toolkit With projects, we aren’t building a widget and we don’t necessarily know everything we will need to complete the project. This is especially true with projects with which we have limited experience. I like to think about an ambulance metaphor. An ambulance goes FAST! It completes its mission quickly. But, it doesn’t start from scratch. It has all of the equipment and supplies that could potentially be needed on any given incident (project).  The Paramedics don’t have to gather the equipment after they get a call that someone is trapped in their car on an overpass. That equipment is already staged on the Ambulance. No doubt, they won’t need everything on the truck for every incident, but they need to be prepared for many different types of emergencies because they never know what is going to hit today, and they don’t have time to pack the truck after they get a call. The Paramedics team is Full Kitted. There is a balance of course between cost and being ready for anything. However, we should always make sure we have at least the basics in our Project Kit before we start: 1. Outcome, clearly defined. What are we trying to accomplish? How will we know when we are successful? Without a clear destination, the trip will no doubt take a long time. 2. Team. If we don’t have all of the needed people on the team including customer representatives, critical technical resources and a strong project leader, the project will stall. Make sure you’ll have sufficient time commitment from each team member in addition to the skills required. 3. Supplies. If supplies, equipment or other tangible items will be needed, check order lead times and make sure you can have them on hand at the appropriate time before you start the project. In addition to the basics, it often pays to develop contingency plans for additional resources that might be required should things not go according to plan. What will happen if the project champion leaves the company? What will you do if your best programmer quits the team? It might be worth some added cost to throw a few additional resources into your Project Kit in case you hit some road bumps along the way. Want an easy, visual way map out the outcome, team, and supplies you will need for your project? Try using Cardsmith – sign up here.
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