Four Tactics to Improve Project Cycle Times

In our previous post, we discussed the link between resource management proficiency and project cycle times and recommended that cycle-time improvement initiatives start with a focus on improving resource management.  

In this post, we review the rationale for that conclusion in a bit more detail and then discuss some other key levers you can pull to optimize your project-cycle time process improvement gains. They include automating and optimizing project selection, workflow, and reporting and analytics.

project management how to improve project cycles
  1. Why Start with Resource Visibility?
    Resource management is the most important focus area for most organizations as they drive their project cycle time improvement initiative because this is where there is the greatest room for measurable improvement. Organizations that are considered low performers in this area waste nearly 12 times more resources than high-performing organizations. [1].  Imagine the cycle time impact of having 12X more resources. Moreover, research corroborates the correlation between resource management and on-time project delivery risks.

    Intuitively we know that we don’t have the right resources with the right skills available for your highest value projects and they are not working at the maximum utilization rate achievable, project cycle times will extend.
     
  2. The Role of Project Selection
    Project execution risk is the risks and consequences of completing projects late and over-budget. This should be a major consideration and specific criteria when evaluating which projects to pursue. Specifically, scoring and weighting project execution risk should be a formal part of your demand management process and project prioritization model. Despite an interesting data point from a recent study citing that 75% of IT project leaders believe their projects are doomed from the start, most organizations are relatively competent at risk management and take it seriously. As a result, your project selection process should be a major consideration in your project cycle analysis.
     
  3. Workflow Optimization is Table Stakes
    Project management tools automate the structured core project management processes to ensure they are executed in an efficient and repeatable way. This includes standardizing and streamlining approvals, task assignments and handoffs, report generation, alerts and notifications, etc. In addition, many integrate tools for unstructured/collaborative information sharing. At the center of your workflow optimization strategy should be a centralized knowledge base of best practices, tools templates and lessons learned so that it’s quick, easy and efficient to search for and find information and tools. For most organizations it’s hard to wring out additional improvements from workflow automation as most basic tools make workflow actions and communications instantaneous. For larger projects that cross-organizational boundaries and require integration of multiple systems, all bets are off. In this scenario, cross-functional process and technology integration should be a priority.
     
  4. Reporting & Analytics 
    One of the potential causes of project delays is the time it takes to make key decisions. Often the time needed to make confident decisions is extended because the data is not available or presented in an intuitive and actionable manner. PPM reports and analytic dashboards provide instant data visibility roll-ups, and easy to consume project and portfolio analytics to streamline planning and execution decisions.

Next Steps
To learn more about implementing a solution for optimized project cycle times check out the Sciforma eBook. Download the eBook.

Valerie Zeller

Valerie is Sciforma Chief Marketing Officer and likes to research and share how a Project and Portfolio Management Solution can help you achieve your business goals. Main interests: digital transformation, change management, strategy execution. Send your thoughts @valeriezeller