It’s often the little things in a project that determine success, and most projects—even those that are simple—include a lot of little things. The details that may crop up in a project range considerably, from equipment specifications to which format a software platform’s beta users are expected to use when submitting their next bug report. Losing or overlooking any one of these details could impact the project’s success, making small details a big deal for the Project Team.
While larger issues, such as milestone deadlines and budget adherence, may occupy much of the project team’s efforts, the ability to manage and process a multitude of these smaller details is crucial in the long run. To ensure your Project Team isn’t overlooking the little things, take a minute to see if you’re giving details the attention they require.
Capturing important data. The information you need may be right in front of you, but sometimes the team just isn’t doing a good enough job of taking it all in. A small item that falls through the cracks is likely to create issues down the road. That means that whether it’s a small follow-on task identified by a PMP® during a jobsite walk-through or an informal request made during a weekly stakeholder update meeting, each detail must be addressed in a timely manner.
Rather than relying on PMP®s to devise their own system for processing a project’s details, it’s usually more effective to provide the team with a standardized way to quickly capture on-the-fly data. Not only is the equipment used during the intake phase important (pen and paper, tablet, etc.), the format could also determine how efficiently the information transfer function occurs later. Are there e-mail templates or boilerplates within the intranet or project communication platform that would facilitate gathering the necessary pieces of data? Should the team be trained to use specific keywords in their e-mail subject lines when communicating about various aspects of the project? Standardizing data collection helps ensure that even the smallest detail maintains its place in the team’s workflow.
Identifying who’s responsible for the details. PMP®s with well-defined areas of responsibility may actually make details more difficult to manage. Some smaller issues don’t seem to fit cleanly into existing functions, while others overlap so many functions that everyone assumes someone else is handling it. This creates the perfect scenario for details to fall off the team’s radar.
Because new details will forever be popping up, one good solution is to develop a practice for formally assigning responsibility for those details that don’t have a clear home. This allows each detail to be captured within the project team’s workflow under a specific functional area. In addition, any immediate or follow-up actions can be tracked and accounted for, and the detail can be closed out when the time comes.
Getting (and giving) early notification of issues. A great number of potentially problematic details can be effectively addressed through rigorous project controls. Making the use of a strong project control methodology a priority for everyone within the Project Team will allow the group to proactively monitor and manage the myriad details occurring across each project’s lifecycle. It can also increase the chances that any missed details will be identified and captured as part of the project control function.
By the same token, communicating details and early notification out to others on the project team is crucial to handling potential issues appropriately. A platform that provides status updates and on-demand project information helps to ensure that the entire Project Team is aware of important details and has the information needed to address them.