Every project experiences challenges. Many are relatively small and can be easily solved through the efforts of just one or two team members. However, there are times when organizations bump up against obstacles that are more complex and wide reaching. These bigger issues bring with them the potential to completely sink your initiative if they aren’t handled carefully.
One key difference between problems that doom your project to failure and those that don’t is how quickly you can identify and implement an effective resolution. If you’ve ever seen a small challenge snowball into something truly devastating simply because it was allowed to fester and spread, then you know the dangers of a slow response.
We’ve put together a handful of strategies to help speed up your problem-solving process and keep your team ahead of project-ending trouble.
- It’s imperative that you have tools in place to identify problems quickly. Your controls process must be working well, and your team needs a unified methodology to ensure everyone knows how to translate the metrics and other data coming in from stakeholders. The ability to consistently recognize problems enables you to begin troubleshooting at the earliest opportunity.
- Before moving into troubleshooting mode, you need to assess the true risks. Something that seems dire at first glance may present lower potential for impact once the team weighs in and determines what the challenge really means for the project’s timeline, budget, scope, and deliverables. A thorough risk assessment gives you the visibility to prioritize your resources as you juggle problem solving with managing the other elements of your project.
- Take advantage of your most important asset—your team members and other collaborators—and bring everyone together to help address the challenge. That includes skilled project management consultants, industry experts, and experienced vendors. Troubleshooting doesn’t need to happen in a single stream, so leverage digital tools such as video conferencing, e-mail, and chat to enable asynchronous collaboration. With the entire knowledgebase working on a fix, you’ll have more ideas to choose from and a wider variety of experience and expertise to guide you toward the best possible solution.
- Don’t shoot down potential solutions too quickly. Instead, gather all suggested fixes and consider them before you begin trimming the list of possible answers. This ensures you get the benefit of your team’s full creativity, which can be a powerful force when applied against a tricky problem. Give careful consideration to innovative solutions that enable you to go beyond the current issue, too. These may help you get out of the cycle of repeated mistakes and head off having to solve similar problems in future projects.
- With a solid list of possible solutions in hand, it’s time to weigh them against the budget you have available to fix the problem. A remedy that’s prohibitively expensive is likely to create a new list of issues to address, pushing your project (and possibly your team) further into the trouble zone. You’ll need to decide if a fix that’s reasonable in price but that would require updating your processes later to avoid the same mistake on a future project is the most prudent route to move forward without delay.
- When it comes to solving problems, perfection really can be the enemy of progress. To overcome this potential roadblock, your team should adopt a “fail fast” mentality. Develop and implement a solution as soon as you can, and then iterate if necessary to further improve your chances of success. Waiting for the perfect answer to your challenges may mean facing deeper trouble in the future, so opt for speed to get you going.