5 Lean Project Management Tips
Did you know traditional methods of project management supported by software products like Microsoft Project have been around for over 50 years? Thankfully we’ve been learning and evolving our approach. But it often takes people and companies a long time to try something new, even when they know the old approach isn’t working.
This post discusses five big ahas of Lean project management. These changes equate to small changes in the way new product development teams work, but have a huge impact on their ability to deliver. Take a look and let us know which practices your team has adopted and which were a big aha for you!
It's better that the entire team can view work-in-progress in real-time.
Traditionally project managers own the plan, and effectively share updates to the plan once per week to the entire team. But how can we design, build or create anything efficiently without everyone on the team knowing who is working on what or when? Or put another way, you can’t fix what you can’t see. Everyone needs to be able to see the plan in as close to real time as possible in order to ensure proper sequencing, identify roadblocks and risks and work effectively as a team. The solution: make the plan visible to the entire team, in real-time.
It's better to have people who know the work manage the plan.
When you are dealing with such diverse skill sets like we find in hardware product design and development, it’s better that the people who own various activities and deliverables develop and maintain the plan. These experts know what needs to get done in order to deliver. Team specialists can have detailed discussions and implement the 7 P's of Planning in a way that a generalist can't.
It's better to learn information that is going to impact the project sooner rather than later.
Is it better to get information that is going to impact the project sooner or later? Hands down, it's better to get information earlier. This is a key tenant of the Lean Startup as well as Agile development. And is also related to the next two big ahas discussed below.
Breaking the project into short tasks is better than long.
Short tasks support the concept of early learning as described above. The idea of short sprints has been discussed at length in the Lean Startup and Agile methods. Short sprints mean early learning and identification of issues as they arise. Teams get information sooner and can adjust accordingly.
Meeting once per day for a short period of time is better than meeting once per week.
Meeting once per day vs. once per week promotes team communication and early learning too. Once you start daily meetings you will wonder how the project ever moved forward without them. Why wait a full week to get the information you need to adjust project direction today?
Congratulations! You are on your way to becoming an expert in lean project management principles. As you can see, Lean project management is not rocket science, nor are the changes difficult to implement. Most of the concepts are simple changes to the way you work which collectively make a huge impact on project success.
A project becomes late one day at a time. Adopt a few of these principles and see how your team will benefit today.
Do you know the real cause of project delays? It's not what you think. Watch this 9-minute to find out.
Lean project management
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Lean project management principles
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Daily stand-up meetings