How To Improve Project Performance: The 10-Step Guide
You can improve project performance through a combination of managerial skills and software tools. A good place to start is to ensure that the team understands the goal of every project, has access to open communication channels, and understands the priorities of tasks. These seemingly simple — yet essential — steps are necessary for successful project delivery and ultimately, satisfied customers. Project performance can also be boosted by leveraging project management software to create consistent project plans and automate time-tracking and billing. For a deep dive into how to improve project performance at your organization, browse the 10 expert tips below.
The 10-Step Guide to Improved Project Performance
1. Stay Focused on the Main Goal
Always keep in mind the big picture and purpose of the project. Periodically ask each team member how what they are doing is contributing to the main goal. Develop an objective standard for measuring progress toward that goal, so that everyone can also evaluate their own contribution.
2. Improve Project Planning and Quality
Carefully planning a project before work starts can ensure that you have accounted for every possible factor and resource. An effective project plan starts with an outline of the questions that always must be asked at the beginning of every project; these questions help you find specific and measurable goals for the project. Next, identify the project team members and make sure all members know their exact roles in the project. Then, put in place systems that allow team members to report their progress and that allow senior management to see the progress of the whole project.
3. Stay in Touch With the Group More Often
It’s good to communicate and engage with the entire team often — even every day. You could use a collaboration tool or a communication app packaged in project management software. It’s a good idea to get the team in the habit of hearing from you every morning—if they learn to expect frequent communication and accountability, they will likely focus more and be more productive.
4. Communicate With the Customer Three Times a Week
The client needs almost as much engagement as the project team does. If a project is inherently slow or very small, communicating with a client once a week may be enough. But it’s vital to maintain dialogue with customers more often when projects are bigger, under more scrutiny, or having frequent difficulties. In those circumstances, set up a schedule of three to four contact points per week and get the client used to those meetings being relevant and productive.
5. Help Prioritize Team Members’ Tasks
You should be the one to prioritize team members’ tasks. It’s essential to your team members’ productivity that you find out where they have any confusion about their tasks. You’ll help them have more energy and focus if you sit down with each team member for a few minutes with a chart of the whole project. Show how their tasks fit into the plan.
6. Use Intuitive Time and Expense Technology
Provide an intuitive system to your team for recording project time: custom views for different roles, the ability to enter time for standard tasks with a click, and time recorded in the best format for your circumstances. The Kantata Cloud for Professional ServicesTM can auto-populate timesheets from project schedules, vastly reducing the chance of team members recording time to the wrong project.
7. Communicate With Senior Management When Not Required To
Send senior management weekly status reports on major projects. A project management office (PMO) may be reporting to them to some extent, but you can keep them better informed yourself — and let them see you in action. Leverage the business intelligence tools in your project management software to pull quick data and reports that can be sent to management with ease.
8. Report Project Status Professionally
Each of your clients is likely to ask for and deliver progress updates in different formats. To avoid endless amounts of spreadsheets, invite your clients to collaborate with you in your project management or professional services automation (PSA) solution, so you can produce status reports in a consistent format. This allows senior managers to make apples-to-apples comparisons between different projects and make decisions about how to use company resources on each one.
9. Discuss Lessons Learned in the Middle of a Project
Instead of waiting until the end, lead two or three short lessons learned sessions during each project. Find out what’s working and what’s not, and help team members change course when needed. In addition, these corrections improve ongoing project quality, which improves customer satisfaction as you’re giving clients status updates.
10. Automate Billing
Timely and accurate billing makes projects more profitable. If you can build billing alerts into the project during the planning phase, you’ll have less errors later, when things get busy. The best way to do this is to use purpose-built professional services software to optimize financial management, allowing you to automate invoicing and effortlessly bill on multiple line items in contracts and other fine-grained details.
Professional services organizations are using purpose-built technology to give project managers the clarity, control, and confidence they need to improve project performance. Vertical SaaS solutions like the Kantata Cloud for Professional ServicesTM are helping businesses streamline project estimating, team collaboration, billing and reporting that can get bogged down by bloated processes and siloed data.