|Never Met a Project Your Credit Union Didn’t Like?
By Karla Norwood, President, Cardwell and Jim Cardwell, CEO, Cardwell
5 Ways to Manage Your Project Prioritization to Achieve Max Productivity
Credit unions – or just about any organization – frequently pursue many projects simultaneously. Almost inevitably, the number of small and large projects in a portfolio exceeds the available resources such as funds, equipment, staff time, and competencies. As a result, we’ve seen what can happen: over-flowing in-boxes of tasks clamoring for your – and your managers’ attention. Everyone is expected to multi-task to get project work done. Right?
Wrong. With so many project tasks assigned, so many distractions caused by jumping from one task to another, and multi-tasking across projects – it can be overwhelming. This “project-hopping” can create undue stress on your organization’s capacity and abilities, often causing paralysis. Consequently, there is a lot of “work-in-process” (work started, but not finished) that quickly clogs the system – and keeps your credit union from achieving many project goals in a timely manner.
With all the technology available to us today, the more we multi-task, one would believe the more efficient we become. However, Professors David Meyer (University of Michigan) and Marcel Just (Carnegie Mellon University) have both conducted studies that conclude just the opposite – that multi-tasking increases inefficiencies rather than makes us more efficient. (NPR, The Thief of Time Multitasking is Inefficient, Studies Show )
How can we “unclog” the system and get more tasks and projects done? One of the most important levers for solving the multi-tasking inefficiencies in project management is to move from the philosophy of “just do it” to “do just it.” Rather than multi-tasking, staff should focus on a single task until it is completed and then move on to the next task. That way the task is finished and it can be handed to the next person (who needs the completed task to work-on/complete their task, etc.).
Focus is critical for task efficiency. For an employee to focus on the most important task to do next, projects must be prioritized. Otherwise, every project and task has the same “weight” and employees are left to make their own best “guess” on what to do next.
Prioritizing, however, is often a VERY difficult aspect of project management. Without an effective project selection and priority system, the capacity overload coupled with project politics will lead to frustration, confusion, and inefficient use of resources
Here are a few reasons why prioritizing projects are difficult:
The following tips will help reverse these difficulties:
Following these tips, use your vision, strategy, and scorecard to help determine the few projects that will make the biggest impact on your organization’s success. Communicate often and clearly your project priorities to allow your employees to focus on their work efforts – getting more done, faster. Next thing you know, your projects will be completed on time and on budget. Your credit union will be a more productive organization and, thusly, more valuable to your members. So don’t just do it; do just it!
For more information on project prioritization, please contact Jim Cardwell or Karla Norwood at Cardwell, 800-395-1410. Visit our Connections Online website: www.connectionsonline.net.