5 Reasons Your Project Management Process Isn't Working: Part 1

July 17, 2014 Ashley Pretnik

Your project management process is broken. Your team is working overtime, you can't stop chasing updates, and your boss is constantly hounding you for another project report.

worker-machine-broken

If this describes you, you're one amongst many. Workers everywhere are stressed to the max and organizations are suffering. In fact, U.S. companies report losing between $200 billion and $300 billion per year because of worker burnout (think reduced productivity, showing up late, not coming into the office, etc.).

Workers are so dissatisfied that only 25% claim they are fully engaged in their work and 19% describe themselves as "actively disengaged." A Gallup poll reported that 70% of American workers are completely "checked out" and 20% hate their jobs.

It's not surprising that we're seeing this type of response. Today's worker is flooded with information (usually to the point of incapacitation) and most people don't have the right process to deal with all the project requests, report data, disconnected tools, and schedule insanity. The cost of this information overload to the U.S. economy? One trillion dollars in 2010. Seeing as things haven't exactly slowed down since then, you can imagine just how big this impact is on today's bottom lines.

How can we fix this madness? How can we get back on track, be more productive, and be better project managers, leaders, and champions? First, we need to identify the problems with our current process. What's wrong today? In this post, we'll cover the first two problems with your current project management process:

1. You don't know how to handle ad hoc requests

agile or waterfall

Fly-by requests come from everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Your boss wants this report by five. Your peer needs you to quickly review something "just really, really, fast." And your inbox is exploding from the insane amount of email requests that are piling on top of the requests from yesterday, and last week, and last month. Sound familiar?

Ad hoc requests are too often overlooked in a project management process. But today's IT organizations claim that they spend 45% to 55% of their time on unplanned work. While many workers can only realistically focus on one task at a time, this unplanned work can unintentionally derail all types of projects.

Need more proof that ad hoc work is a major disruption? The average worker is interrupted 50 to 60 times every day. That's one interruption every 8 minutes or 7 interruptions per hour. Every interruption lasts (on average) fives minutes, which can add up to 50% of the average worker's workday. It sounds like it's not just IT organizations that are spending half of their day on unplanned work.

2. You can't see what your team is working on

blindfold

You know your project management process is broken if you and your team are spending half the day on unplanned work. But do you really know what everyone is working on to begin with? In a study of 100 Fortune 500 companies, 80% of respondents stated they "had trouble evaluating their team's work." If you can't evaluate what people have done, how can you properly plan for future projects and ad hoc work?

When you can't see what your team is working on, you spend hours and hours chasing updates so you can spend more time compiling reports for stakeholders. Fun! In fact, it's reported that project managers spend up to 12 hours every week building reports. And the report data? It comes from hundreds of hours in meetings every month. In 2012, meetings were rated as the number one time waster for office employees.

Even the simple act of managing time can disrupt the overarching need for project visibility. The average person uses 13 (that's 13) different methods to attempt some type of control over his/her time. How can you expect to see what everyone else is doing if you're using 13 (THIRTEEN) different methods for managing your own time and your own projects? It's an uphill battle that seems impossible to climb.

From the sound of it, project management is tiptoeing on the doorstep to despair. Stay tuned for next week's post and we'll cover three more ways you can identify a problem in your project management process. In the meantime, check out our new eBook : Secrets of 40 PPM Experts on Changing Project Management to Project Leadership. It details 40 great lessons you can incorporate into your project management process to elevate your approach to that of a project leader.

Continue reading in "5 Reasons Your Project Management Process Isn't Working: Part 2."

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