Thursday, May 13, 2010

10 Steps of Problem-Solving for Project's Success

Gautam Gandhi of Google tells managers to look for Problems than ideas for success in any business. The same applies to Projects too. Here are the 10 ways of Problem Solving that could help Projects focus on the end objectives there by initiating good performance and successful completion.

1. Early Identification: A good project manager will give a strong emphasis on identifying issues and constraints at a very early stage in a project. These may in turn become risks and shop stoppers if not identified and handled proactively.

2. Back up Plan: In today's dynamics of the industry, it is very important to have a fall back plan. No one should be indispensable, be it human resources, technology or infrastructure. Which means that a manager should identify alternatives and workarounds for every given scenario that can contribute to the good or bad of a project.

3. Motivated and Dependable Teams: A dedicated team is the need of any Project. But how far are we able to achieve this in the real life scenario? Temptations of the job offers, dis-pleasure due to market ups and downs, frustrations due to slow career growth make people not stay focused on the work entrusted up. It is the responsibility of a manager to be a good people manager and understand their professional issues, talk openly, provide options, ensure their growth, motivate them and most importantly, protect their best interests at all times, especially shield them from trauma of a projects fire fighting modes and provide a good environment where they can work with enthusiasm, motivation and strong dedication.

4. Seek Expert Opinions: Most of us waste time trying to find solutions on our own. Every organization will have a knowledge repository that is not fully utilized. Be it technical or people issue, there will be workarounds and white papers published to guide you on the best possible solutions. Ask for guidance and expert opinion. When you discuss problem with SMEs, you will find quick and most relevant answers.

5. Handling unknown unknowns: Known unknowns are identified early and are documented with mitigation plans as part of risk management. It is a real test for a manager to handle unknown unknowns. Look at it as an opportunity than get threatened as a show stopper. Throw to your team for volunteers to handle a particular issue, and believe me, there may be a silent guy in your team who would actually come out with a best solution. Anything that is confidential, financial issue or a very sensitive people issue, better always to follow the Organizational Policy.

6. Document Issues, Solutions and Outcomes: This not only help to create a good lessons learnt, but also help the teams to look back and feel pride on how many issues and problems they were able to cross. This motivates the team to handle any kind of challenges in the future. Its all about expertize coming out of experience.

7. Communication: One of the most essential project management aspect is communication. If something is getting delayed, be courageous to let the stakeholders know it is advance, than to cut a sorry face later. Do not be silent. In the west Silence is considered as all is fine, and the things would happen as planned. So be explicit to inform in advance if there is an issue. Good communication and on time communication have saved many projects from failures.

8. Follow Process: Most of us in the urge to achieve the tasks on time, take processes for granted. Though it may appear that processes are lengthy, they in fact set the projects on track. Give right inputs in Audits, for they would guide you to find solutions for non-compliance items at an early stage. This would help the projects to achieve end customer satisfaction which is vital to business.

9. Innovation and Creativity: Encourage team members to find innovative solutions that have optimum cost benefits. Using of latest technology, agile methods and reuse of existing components not only save time and cost, but also lot of effort and give scope for new innovations. Today's best of organizations in the world are those that give predominance to their research and development. Innovation comes from all layers of the organization in the form of Knowledge briefs, technology paper presentations and seminars participation.

10. Be Composed and Focused: Best of solutions seem to come up in the most composed situations. Do not transfer your tensions to the team. Good managers will find ways to understand customer's frustration and needs. And think logically on the solutions that are deserved. In most of the times, when you think from other person's shoes, you find answers than to think from your side keeping constraints and issues in hand. Staying focused on problems actually mean staying focused to find solutions and alternatives that can ease out the friction or show stopping scenarios. Utmost patience, clear thinking, thinking out of box and showing proactive approach to problems than reactive behaviour will ensure good problem solving for Project's success.

How I wish problem solving is made as one of the processes in the Project Management world...for am sure there is lot to be done than said. A true leadership is seen with good problem solving capability....Cheers!

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