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Back to Basics: Building Blocks for Successful Project Delivery

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Mark Woeppel - March 16, 2015

Back to Basics-  Building Blocks for

In kindergarten, we learned some simple skills: how to work together, how to share, how to communicate with others, how to be kind and make friends. They were basic social skills that would help us in the long run to get what we want out of life and out of our work.

As we grew older, maybe we got involved in sports or group activities. We were taught an easy mantra: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.

At some point once we entered the real world however, we lost sight of these simple ideals. We quit articulating the things we need, we quit working together to achieve our goals… we stopped communicating all together. And yet somehow we’re surprised that our projects are running weeks to months to years behind schedule, and we can’t get anything done on time.  And it’s not fun anymore.

Successful projects stem from basic concepts similar to the ones you learned as a child. These help improve productivity and reduce project duration. Together, they comprise the Basic Collaboration level of the Viewpoint Project Execution Maturity Model, pictured below.

new maturity model graphic

Basic Collaboration is pivotal to successful projects. It is the simplest level, but it creates the foundation for all the others to build upon, and is instrumental to boosting on time delivery, task velocity and productivity as a whole by killing the biggest threat to project success: multitasking.

I’ve written about each of the four elements involved individually (here, here, here and here), but here’s a refresher, and next week, we’ll move on to the middle level of the model, Improved Coordination.

Collaborative Execution

For projects to be truly successfully executed, informed collaboration is essential. Both managers and team members must be able to see past the limits of their individual tasks, to the overall direction of the project. They need a map. The roles, reporting and accountability must be crystal clear (Who’s going to drive?), so that everyone knows what needs to get done today, instead of driving through the rear view mirror. Collaborative Execution makes tasks in the team’s work visible to everyone involved, allowing the team to be truly informed so they can collaborate.

Functional Alignment

Everyone comes to a project with objectives from their individual function. Functional alignment takes people out of their organizational silos and puts them on the project. Each member of the team acts in the best interest of the project as a whole, instead of their individual silo’s objective, eliminating conflict between departments or teams, and accelerating decision making and action. They need to know the right behavior. Functional alignment happens when every single person involved in the project is focused on the project’s overarching goals, rather than their own silo’s objectives.

Priority Control

Managing priorities is essential to eliminate multitasking and achieving Basic Collaboration. By collaborating more effectively and aligning functional goals, you can easily create a priority system that is transparent and simple.  Through a simple priority system, teams can ensure that people work on the right tasks at the right time and most importantly, everyone’s working on the most important priority to advance the project.

Control WIP

A very important aspect to reduce project duration is to eliminate the task wait time in the workflow. Establishing control over work in progress is the final building block of Basic Collaboration. Managers must establish criteria to control tasks to ensure that nothing is started that cannot be finished. By controlling the amount of work in the queue, teams simplify the task of project management. They can have clear criteria for work release, have clear methods for managing work, and have established targets for total system work in progress.

These four elements work together to lay the building blocks for ultimate project success to reduce project duration, deliver on time, and boost productivity.

Learn how one of our clients recently implemented the Basic Collaboration level of the Viewpoint Project Execution Maturity Model and increased their productivity by 360% and on-time delivery by 20%. Download the case here.

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