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Roll with it

Sometimes when you are in the middle of a project it becomes hard to keep your focus on what you are meant to be doing, I mean really meant to be doing. You've been through the initial stages of a project and you have converted the requirements of the project into a nice series of milestones and actions. Then you get into the project and often it can turn into a mechanical piece of work, and the focus on what you need to be achieving gets missed. I write this because I have seen this happen time and time again, re-focussing on the result that is required is essential so that we can choose the next steps effectively. If you are into the 'plan - do - check - act' method of improvement you will know what I am talking about, plans change. One of the most effective ways to keep this focus is to update your project plan in a rolling fashion. Choose a horizon that is suitable for your project(s) and a time frame when to update. Some people like weekly, some monthly - it la

Manage the capacity

When a business is struggling to deliver its products or services one of the first areas you can review is the way in which resources are allocated. The method that is used can reveal a lot about how effective the resource is used, and hence how efficient the delivery of a project can be. OK - I'll stop saying resources - people and machines is what I am talking about. Do you know how much available capacity you have at this moment in the business, what about next week or next month? Coming up with simple ways to track commitments versus available hours can make huge differences in the ability for an organisation to deliver. Often the act of putting a tool in place for doing this can yield interesting insights in their own right that can help improve the business directly. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Remember the priority

At any one point in time there is usually a clear priority that needs to be addressed. This makes sense when you think about it. One particular task or objective that will give a higher payback on our efforts than any of the other items that are on our to-do list. We mainly continue on however working through our list of actions without paying attention to the level of payback, or impact, that could be generated. By doing this very short evaluation we can change the output of our day and keep ourselves focussed on what needs to be done. When discussing this with others the comment of '...but I know what needs to be done' is pretty common. I agree, most people do know what needs to be done. However, there is often a better sequence of activity and I can tell on which days I have considered this, and which ones I have not. Spend a couple of minutes to re-evaluate your to-do list, and see what the impact of the actions are - you might find a better way to tackle your work.

Flow in the office

When paperwork piles up in the office it is usually pretty easy to spot (the desk looks less tidy for a start). When this pile up occurs on the computer system it is less obvious and appears to be less of a problem. This is until you need to find a file on the system and you find yourself trudging around the folders and files struggling to find a logical way to find what you want. Many organisations don't communicate where files are to be stored and as a result people lose time that could be used for more profitable activities. Information should flow around a business and not get stuck in the hands of a few people, or in intrays that help people to lose track of time. Find where your information gets stuck, and then re-design the way information flows - if you want a smoother running operation that is! Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Who are the catalysts

It never ceases to amaze me when I visit different businesses how there is always a person or an area of a business that seems to get things done better and faster than other areas. Usually in these areas there is an attitude or approach that seems to differentiate it from the other parts of the business. Somehow this department has found a way to overcome their problems and is able to take in and spit out more work than the other areas. When you look into what has been changed or altered it is often something quite basic that most people just tend to live with. If we took this attitude to our other departments just think what it could do for the business. Find the catalysts in your business and get them to help you propogate improvement across the business. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

A Flexible Middle

When faced with organising a schedule for a meeting or a project it is often quite amazing at how one of two things occurs: 1 - the agenda is tight and is never adhered to. 2 - the agenda is very loose and there offers little benefit. A third option is to have the start and finish determined (and hence tight) with the middle section of the activity 'loose'. Knowing clearly how the activity will begin and end is usually enough to run an effective session, if you add in some guidelines to the middle of the activity then you will more likely have the right balance of flexibility and structure to make the sesssion effective. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Allocate based on payback

One of my colleagues was talking to me about how time seemed to often slip away from them, and I can empathise with this situation. In fact, many of my clients complain about the lack of time that they have available to them. When we step back however and look at what time is being committed to we sometimes wonder what is really important to us. For each obligation we commit to we are choosing how effectively we use our time. Some of the obligations will have a great payback on the time that we invest. Some of the obligations will give us a poor return on the time that we invest. Before committing to an obligation, work out which category it falls into - high or low payback on the time invested. If you find yourself committing to too many low payback actvities then there may be some ideas and solutions waiting for you! Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'