You have BIG plans for this year that involve growing your business. New ideas you want to see turn into a new line of business for shareholders, leadership and employees. You can’t wait to run…and run fast…rolling out those ideas. You’re ready to jump in with both feet. This should be the sign to STOP! and make sure you’re ready to make that leap. It’s time to focus on Step #1.
Step 1: Take an inventory of what your business is already committed to for the year.
I’m not talking about counting how many items you have on the shelf, or what shipments need to be processed, or even what stock needs to be replenished. Taking an inventory by looking at the projects you’ve already signed up for, understanding how many are on track or ahead of schedule, and most importantly identifying if any are at risk of not being completed on time, or on budget. If you have projects that are not progressing at the proper pace, now is the time to make the necessary changes to get them back on track. Your reputation for quality is on the line. No need to start a new line of business if the ones funding the organization are not producing as expected.
Step #2: Make sure the projects already committed to are staffed, and funded, for success.
Do you have the necessary plans in place and the procedures documented to make sure these projects will finish on time and budget so they produce the expected profit you are counting on to execute the new ideas? Step #2 focuses on project resource management and making sure the projects already committed to are staffed, and funded, for success. Make sure you have the right resource assigned to oversee the work. Now is the time to change assignments. If a junior resource can finish a project, freeing up a more experienced resource to own a new project…make the change now.
This allows the junior resource to build new skills without risking their career or the future of the company. It also allows senior resources to oversee something new, which usually carries high risks simply because it’s…well, NEW…which implies it likely has more unknowns and therefore, more risk of getting off track. Senior resources have experience managing multiple tasks in parallel, understanding how the complexities of various parts of the project need to work individually, as well as, maintaining a clear view of how the individual parts eventually come back together. You want to make sure you can finish what you started…before you start something new.
Tracking and evaluating project progress and improving project profitability These seem like two easy steps, right? As you read this, did you say to yourself, “Oh, I got this!” and then find yourself fighting the urge to stop reading midstream just so you could open your project software and pull up the data to assure yourself? You are not alone. In a fast-paced industry, with demands growing for projects to be completed more quickly and with budgets continuing to tighten, it’s hard to be aware of all the details, all the time. Often the difference between being a ‘good’ professional services firm and being the ‘best’ professional services firm depends on your ability to quickly assess the status of a project and manage your resources accordingly.
That’s why Step 1 and 2 are vitally important when professional services firms are kicking off new projects.
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