Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tips to Keep Your Projects on Schedule

By Karen Preston-Loeb

Being organized in the workplace is an integral component of a company’s productivity and profitability. Missed deadlines irritate clients which can result in loss of business. Late work makes a company appear overwhelmed and incapable. However, keeping a streamlined process in place to deliver projects on time and within budget satisfies both clients and employees. Below are some project management tips to improve efficiency in your company.

Utilize a project management software system:

Various platforms exist that provide companies with job tracking, reporting capabilities, timesheets, and even invoicing, and most are accessible through the internet to allow for remote working. The system best suited for a company varies depending on the functionality desired. At Furia Rubel Communications we use Basecamp for all of our marketing, public relations, crisis communications, graphic design and website development projects. Every project is created and named, and a calendar is generated to schedule the milestones for each job. Milestones for every task that need to be completed are assigned a date and team member. Once each task is finished it is checked off and, as long as each agency representative completes work on time, the project stays on schedule.

Create a project naming system:

Keeping the workplace organized is more than filing cabinets and inboxes. With work being done on the cloud and remotely via the internet, organizing has taken a digital turn and a naming system is essential. Clearly labelling jobs allows every team member to be on the same page and easily access a project in the future. Oftentimes project management software systems will help organize this process by numbering jobs or prompting a job name field. Still, the company needs to determine a naming convention to be used internally. Acronyms for clients work well along with project titles and dates created. For instance, a 300 x 250 web banner created for ABC Corporation’s August website might be labeled: ABC_300x250WebBanner_8_2016. This would then be filed alphabetically by the client on a server. In two years, if the client wanted to re-run that web banner, it could easily be found.

Break out a project into tasks:

Looking at a large campaign or assignment can be overwhelming, but organizing the job into tasks that can be completed and checked off gives a feeling of accomplishment along the way. A builder who undertakes an addition onto a house doesn’t just dive in. The builder begins with a plan that may begin with blueprints, then demolition and removal of debris, followed by each individual step that needs to occur from adding plumbing to final coats of paint. Whether laid out on paper or in the experienced mind of the builder, a job has a sequence of events that occurs. The same holds true at any company. Every project has a succession of tasks that can be mapped out and completed by one or various team members. In a marketing and public relations firm, for instance, we might break out an e-Newsletter into steps from drafting content, editing, or proofreading, to obtaining client approval, adding web links, and scheduling distribution. These project tasks can also be added to your project management software as templates which leads to greater efficiencies and productivity.

Maintain Schedules:

How happy would a client be if a firm did excellent work but missed its deadlines? A press release announcing an event that gets distributed too late is no good to the client no matter how well-written. Staying on schedule is imperative to the long-term success of a company. Work backwards from the final due date and break the job into tasks. Each task should fill the calendar up to the final due date (and be sure to give your team some leeway whenever possible). Assign these tasks and due dates to appropriate team members, and track any missed deadlines. Once a milestone is overdue, the schedule needs to be adjusted appropriately to ensure the job stays on track.

Organization is essential to project workflow. Keeping jobs on track not only maintains client satisfaction that can lead to referrals and future business, but also promotes a healthy workplace of employees who feel proud to have accomplished goals and be a part of the company’s success.

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