We all like the idea of starting the New Year with a clean slate, with all our old problems or projects solved or resolved. Unfortunately, life in a business isn’t always that simple. More often than not, you had a project underway but it was derailed somewhere at the beginning of December and ended up in “Christmas limbo”. So now that the office Christmas decorations have been dismantled and all your staff are back at work, it’s time to rescue your forgotten project and get it back on track.
The beginning of the year is the perfect time to get a project underway or back in progress. Everyone comes back to work refreshed and full of ideas, hoping that this is the year they get to achieve their career goals. The trick, of course, is to focus all that positive energy. Refreshed staff will be more accepting of change, making this the perfect time to introduce something new into the business. Remember that you can’t change the world overnight and that your project still needs to meet business strategy and culture. However, if you get back to basics and focus on some key project tools, you’ll start or restart your project with the best chance for success.
1) Resourcing – Rethink your Internal Skillsets
The Christmas break often provides people with a chance to reflect on the year that has just finished and think about where they want to go next. In particular, it’s a common time to review which way career path and job satisfaction are headed. Desire for change and improvement is strong, making it a fantastic opportunity to encourage people to try something new.
Don’t assume that people are satisfied with their current skillsets and roles. Instead, give staff the opportunity to try something new. You might have the perfect resource sitting under your nose, who is ideal to fill a project resourcing need. It’s a win-win situation – you’ll increase the likelihood of project success and they’ll get to work towards their new career goals.
2) Time Management and Feedback – Schedule regular project meetings
A regular meeting with a pre-published agenda, gives staff a mini-deadline to work to. Get in early while people are still planning their work load! Rather than staff thinking, “this project is something I have to fit in when I get a chance”, the project tasks become automatically prioritised and important.
Your meetings don’t have to take long, but that will be dependent on how often you have them. You can get through a lot in half an hour each week, so long as you have set an agenda and people know there is limited time. It has the added benefit of being short enough to prevent people feeling like you’re making them sit through a “talk-fest”.
3) Review your Project Team
The buzz of a New Year can sometimes make us feel bullet-proof. We’re so refreshed that it seems like we’re capable of taking on whatever workload we need to in order to get that project over the line.
But remember, a project is a marathon not a sprint. Use up all your goodwill and staff energy in January and the rest of the project becomes a very hard slog.
Take the time now to think about how you’re going to resource this project and balance that within normal working life. Do you have appropriately skilled staff who are looking for a new opportunity? Can you shuffle around internal resource to make that happen? Or do you need to get some extra hands to help?
If you do need external assistance, you could bring in someone on a short-term contract. This will rely on your organisation being nimble enough to organise that in a short time-frame. Or, you could get an external business analyst or consultant, who’ll be more adaptable to a quick timeframe. The key, of course, is to get the right contractor – you need someone who’s willing to get their hands dirty and deliver solutions, not someone who’s used to delegating and sitting in meetings!
The beginning of the New Year is the perfect time to kick start a project, or to get a new idea under way. Use the opportunity to focus on project basics and review your project with fresh eyes. If you take the time now to implement some quick-win practices, you can enter the New Year primed for project success.
Do you need help implementing business change? Contact Business System Alchemy for more information by clicking here.
The Alchemist comes to your courtesy of Ruxana D’Vine and Michael Meryment, specialists in matching business needs back to technology.