In today's highly competitive business arena, the ultimate goal of all senior management staff is to "get more done with fewer resources." As a Project manager, you need to be able to deliver the same quality of results or even better results with just a few highly productive team members.
Here, when we speak of resources, we are referring to the people on your team. While getting more work done with fewer people may seem like a tall order or even impossible, you can hit your goals comfortably, without burning your team out, when you know how to do it.
It all starts from here. When you've got fewer people on the job, you need to use them in the best way possible. This doesn't mean you have to overload the workhorses on your team with extra tasks. You need to ensure that you allocate the right tasks to the right people, without making anyone on the team feel overloaded.
Start by analyzing the skill sets of each member of your team. Matching the right person to the right task based on their skill set is a great way to boost team productivity and increase the quality of the results.
While allocating tasks, you need to factor in the vacation time and other leaves of each team member so that projects don't get stalled due to the non-availability of resources. This is where staff scheduling software like the eResource Scheduler is a huge lifesaver.
Loaded with plenty of time-saving features, intuitive reports, and an easy-to-use dashboard, you get a clear idea of all the resources in hand – their availability, what they are working on, and much more. The greater the visibility over your resources and the tasks in hand, the easier it is to match the right person to the right job.
This means – fewer mistakes, quicker results, and less time managing resources – all of which help to increase the productivity of your team.
Pro Tip: While allocating tasks to resources, make sure that you don't allocate to 100% capacity. Aim to schedule tasks only up to 80% capacity of the resource. This way, you don't end up behind schedule. If a person completes his/her task earlier, you can then allot extra work later on.
While this may not work for all projects, there are plenty of situations where you can reduce the workload by using shortcuts. You can speed up routine tasks that are repeated for all projects by using a template. For instance, if your team members fill up an invoice and timesheet at the end of every day, you can distribute a standard template for the task. This way, your team members can just fill up the required columns, instead of creating the documents from scratch.
Try to create templates and checklists for routine, repetitive tasks like weekly reports, meeting agendas, presentations, etc. Using templates and checklists helps you to do that task in less time since you don't have to spend time figuring out what you need to do next.
Pro Tip: Use Google Drive to store all templates and checklists. Team members can download their local copies of the template from the shared drive and work on it as and when needed.
You may not know it, but a few of your teams might be willing to take on paid overtime to earn a few extra bucks every week. Alternatively, your team members may have access to a network of interns and other graduate students looking to gain experience. Hiring interns is a win-win situation. You get extra resources while they gain experience.
Additionally, your team members may come up with creative ideas to get projects completed timely, by working with limited resources on your team. For instance, if a particular person is aware of new technology, he/she might be willing to train other team members on that technology, so that you can complete the project on time and in a cost-effective way.
When you have fewer resources or fewer resources at work than needed, you need to prioritize tasks. Identify the tasks that must be completed first. Let your team focus on what's important. Let them not get side-tracked by other minor tasks that don't have specific time limits.
While prioritizing tasks, you need to ensure that individual team members align tasks accordingly so that it contributes to the overall goals of the project.
An excellent strategy to get more work done without compromising the output is to decide in advance the time you want to spend on a particular task or part of a task. For instance, if a particular team member tends to over-invest during research, you can instruct them to stop the task after three or five hours. On the other hand, if another team member spends way too much time coming up with an initial draft, you can give them a specific time slot before which they have to get the first draft typed.
While time boxing doesn't guarantee that the task will be finished in the allotted time, it can help team members focus. And, when your team work against the clock, they are likely to get the work completed within the allotted time. You can then later refine the output if needed.
While the skills of your team members matter, the resource management tools available at their disposal play a huge role in boosting productivity. Using time-tracking tools and apps helps to monitor team productivity and increase efficiency. The eResource Scheduler, a leading resource management tool helps team members know what others are working on, and the time when a particular task will be completed so that they can work accordingly.
Collaboration tools can help to simplify teamwork and get the team working together in real time. While email is the preferred communication tool, it's easy to lose track of individual messages, and employees may spend more time than needed searching for particular message threads. Using specialized communication tools can help to keep track of conversations and streamline intra-office communications.
These are some tips to get your team to do more work, without having to force them into working overtime. You can adapt these ideas to suit your specific needs and workplace culture. Though you may have fewer resources, if they are motivated, inspired, and equipped with the right tools, they can deliver better results on time with ease.