Welcome to the circus that we call project management. Ever felt like you’re juggling flaming torches while riding a unicycle on a tightrope? You nod with eyes wide and circles dark.
Well, it’s time to transform that circus act into a well-choreographed magic show that’s not just fun, but ruthlessly efficient.
Because being a project manager is a challenging job regardless of project scope, and we know it’s hard to achieve project management freedom. But designing the most efficient project management cycle is a must. After all, you’ll be using it over and over again.
Whatever your agency processes, you’ve got to streamline your project management for maximum efficiency, even when managing multiple projects.
The best part of streamlining project management processes is it will help you identify and troubleshoot any risks, view the information in one place, and increase employee collaboration.
Piqued your interest? Then you’re probably wondering just what exactly does the streamlining process in project management entail? And, how can it help you achieve maximum efficiency in project management?
Let’s dive into the project management process with examples of the must-have tools and your roadmap to success delivered on a shiny silver platter.
Project Management Process Model
Project management encompasses many essential skills, knowledge, and experience. According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK guide), the PM life cycle, or project management process model, goes as follows:
- Initiation phase: Project initiation is where we understand the project’s scope and what is expected of us. Work Breakdown Structure is a tool that can help you flesh-out this stage.
- Planning phase: Project planning is the second step, where we define in detail the deliverables, cost, scope, and timeline and get to choose the critical path method. We can use the Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) or a Gantt Chart.
- Execution phase: This is the phase where we start implementing the plan.
- Monitoring phase: Monitoring is the stage where we use project management tools to get an overall picture of our project’s process. We may use Trello, JIRA, Asana, or Microsoft Project.
- Closure phase: This is the end of the project or closeout, where we wrap up any unfinished businesses, brief all the project stakeholders, officially close the project and archive all documentation that will be used for future reference.
In the project management process model, we’ll discuss
- Project phases: These are a collection of activities within a project.
- Scope: The scope of the project refers to boundaries, goals, and deliverables that we must set or adhere to for a project to be successful.
- Schedule: This is a set timeline showing the entire project and individual tasks’ start and completion dates.
- Budget: The total cost estimation of a project.
- Risk: Project risks are unforeseen events that may affect a project’s outcome.
Understanding the Project Streamline Process
Streamlining a process allows it to be more efficient and yield better results.
For example, in project management, every task has final deliverables that are time-bound and budgeted. And, for a project to work well, we may need to alter some tasks to make it yield more and better results.
Here’s how you can streamline the project management process:
- Use tactics that increase efficiency
- Eliminate unnecessary steps
- Improve communication among team members
In our modern world, most project managers use automation to streamline processes. Automation helps save money and time, and enables innovation. PMs who use automation effectively develop a work breakdown structure (WBS) to help them view each task in the project. This helps them to run projects simultaneously while ensuring each and every project deliverable is met.
Additionally, project monitoring ensures that no one deviates from the original plan to achieve project objectives.
As seen in the project management process model, the entire project’s success depends on all five stages, i.e., from project execution to the closure phase outlined in the Project Management Institute (PMI).
Utilizing this roadmap is an important part of executing any project.
How Process Management and Project Management Relate
Although process and project management differ, they’re closely related.
Process management includes managing different tasks efficiently throughout the project life cycle to achieve results, while project management ensures the project is delivered within a given time frame.
So as a project manager, you need to integrate these two aspects. Streamlining your project management process means both managing your project timelines and optimizing task execution to hit your targets.
9 Ways to Streamline Project Management Process for Maximum Efficiency
Here are the essential steps you’ll need to follow to streamline the project management process for maximum success and minimum stress.
Understand each department’s workflow
Do you know how every part of your company operates?
Well, it’s a good idea to get a solid understanding of how each department works so you can improve operations in specific departments. It’s crucial to gather input from each team member since they’re the ones executing the tasks. Their insights will be invaluable in enhancing operations within their respective departments.
Identify areas to improve
Now that we’ve assessed how each department operates, did we identify areas that need improvement?
Look for common problem areas like lack of motivation, communication breakdowns, and unclear instructions. Anything like this needs urgent improvement if we want to meet the project goal.
Test the improved workflow
So, we’ve gathered the much-needed information and discovered that we also nee to improve certain vital elements. Now after implementing and tweaking those improvements, we need to ensure everything is in good working order.
To understand our new and improved workflow’s effectiveness, the best practice is to test it with new projects — remembering that the first use of every workflow is a trial run.
Then, keep optimizing as we identify other areas of improvement. Share our findings with project team members who can help us uncover logical failures and bottlenecks we might not have otherwise noticed or considered.
Have a solid plan
Planning is essential for any project’s success. First, we need a great project management plan in which we define each scope, create a work breakdown structure, and create a budget and timeline while ensuring we have a contingency plan.
When we lack a solid plan, we will suffer, and suffer greatly, scope creep.
Dun dun dun.
Scope creep occurs when the project continues growing into an uncontrolled, ravenous monster because we did not clearly define, document, or control the budget.
So how can we ensure we are controlling our scope to ensure project deliverables are reached without scope creep?
- Define the project’s scope
- Have a work breakdown structure
- Define each project’s deliverable
- Make a budget and timeline for each task and other resources
- Keep a backup plan ready in case of risks
Do this, and you’ll vanquish the scope creep monster. No hawthorn stakes, silver bullets, or Daryl Dixon required.
According to ResearchGate, 57 percent of projects fail due to a lack of effective communication within departments.
When overseeing a project, whether large or small, ensure everyone understands their role and what is at stake so that the entire team can work for the same goal.
What are the ways we can use to communicate effectively with our team? They include:
- Regular meetings
- Project dashboards
- Discussion boards
- Chat tools like Slack
- Weekly status reports
- Video conferencing
Creating and maintaining a communication plan will also help those working remotely understand various project aspects.
Use the right project management tools
Project management tools effectively automate tasks, and it’s no wonder that 66 percent of brands consider automation essential for running their businesses.
The right project management software helps you effectively and efficiently:
- Assign tasks to right team members
- Set deadlines
- Track progress
- Track time
- Manage budgets
- Collaborate with team members
- Track resources
Additionally, the right project management tools enable you to utilize accurate time data, so you know who’s currently busy and who has extra bandwidth.
These tools also allow you to switch from Gantt to calendar view, and see comments on projects. Project management tools can be used for waterfall and agile projects, giving you the convenience you need when managing complex projects simultaneously.
Implement risk management strategies
Every project has risks. So, project managers and business owners need solid risk management strategies in place.
Defined risk management strategies enable informed decision-making and risk mitigation. And, they also instill confidence in stakeholders, showing them that potential issues have been considered and contingencies planned.
Conduct proper budgeting
Budgeting is one of the most sensitive aspects of any project.
Because we only know how far the project will go with the defined budget once. Before work begins, we do a feasibility study and allocate funds for each project component.
Keep in mind that each project milestone is linked, making budgets interdependent. So, if any task goes over budget, it could impact the available resources for other components of the project.
No matter how great our project plan is, improper budgeting will cause our budget to fail and we’ll lose clients. Your budget and time management will always go hand-in-hand. So whenever you assign a task, ensure it’s set to a dedicated deadline.
Also, ensure that those we assign to do the tasks are trustworthy experts.
Let’s not underutilize our team or ask more people to do one person’s job. Instead, use tools that will enable the team to work faster and more efficiently for the duration of the project without overstretching the budget.
Make data accessible to the team
Projects have lots of data, and it’s important to gather every bit of it. The best way to prevent missing data is by ensuring data is accessible to all team members and stakeholders.
Can you imagine team members coming to you every other minute asking about small details? Sounds nightmarish.
We may be happy to share with the first person who starts asking questions. But imagine everyone working on the project coming to you asking for different datasets!
And what happens if you’re out sick or otherwise away from your desk?
Your team can’t do their best work, and the project won’t move. So, don’t be stingy and have that data accessible to all stakeholders and team members.
All data and each project’s deliverables need to be documented because everyone can make good business decisions when they have access to the proper analytics.
Private data can work in one department. But when there are separate departments and decision-makers, having accessible data will be helpful and will promote communication.
What are the Benefits of Streamlining Processes in Project Management?
Streamlining the project management process model is good for the business in many ways. Let’s have a look at some of the ways your business is bound to benefit.
Automating our work using project management software will reduce the need to do things manually. For example, instead of hiring someone to do data entry or send invoices, we can use a template and automate these processes, saving and freeing up money that would have been used on staffing.
A better way to monitor projects
Project management software can help us see whether the project team members follow the project schedule, preventing scope creep. Also, we can see whether each phase’s deliverables, milestones, processes, and objectives have been achieved.
A faster way to troubleshoot risks
When we streamline our workflow in project management methodology, we can quickly identify and troubleshoot any risks before they start. We will also eliminate unnecessary tasks to have better project deliverables within budget.
A lot can be achieved whenever different departments working on the same project collaborate. When they see the milestones covered in other departments, they will be motivated to work harder to finish their milestones and communicate.
Streamlining project management processes will help clarify each team member’s roles and responsibilities and provide shared understanding. Therefore, team members can align their efforts towards achieving a common goal, as everyone will know what is happening on the project.
Bottlenecks and Inefficiencies in Project Management Process
As smoothly as we may envision our project management process to be, we can still encounter some bottlenecks.
Some of them include a shortage of skilled manpower, computer malfunctions, and under budgeting — especially if it is the first project or you’re basing your calculations on vague assumptions.
When we don’t have experts working on a project, we may need to hire a freelance expert to handle the task, and as we know, they don’t come cheap.
Well, this bottleneck may mean digging deeper into our pocket to finance the project. Or worse, a project may stall! If we opt to train our team members, our progress may slow, and they may deliver low-quality projects.
Your Rulebook for a Streamlined Project Management Tomorrow
How we streamline our project management process will determine whether we’ll be a success or the F word.
We don’t want you to be a — hate to say it — failure! So, follow the project management process, from project initiation to closure.
Since a failed project will lead to loss of funds and clients, take the tips and strategies we’ve outlined in this post seriously.
Ready, set, streamline. Here are your action steps for success:
- Assess each department’s workflow.
- Identify processes that aren’t budget-friendly yet are unnecessary and take measures to make the process efficient.
- Test your improved workflow on new projects and keep improving with each new project.
- Ensure there’s an open communication channel and open data that everyone involved in the project can access throughout the project management life cycle.
- Implement a risk management or contingency plan to boost client confidence and also provide your team with a budgeted safety net for any potential project risks.
- Use project management tools to help streamline our project management process. You can use the tool’s Gantt chart or Kan Ban style to track the project progress, and create project schedules.
Ready to command projects that will have clients knocking on your door? At ScaleTime, we empower agencies with project management strategies that foster team autonomy and shatter deadlines.
Don’t wait. Carpe diem your PM and contact us now to unlock your agency’s potential.