Organise Design Carefully

When doing a project that requires design, you should plan the time required for design carefully and allow adequate time for the design to be completed.

You should also write a design brief describing what you expect the designers to deliver and get them to agree on a schedule and cost for this (even for an internal design department).

Make sure you also account for design review (by the senior designer), drafting, engineering review of the drafting, redrafting of changes and corrections, and final review and issue.

It is important to allow for all these things and get the design leader to agree on time allowances for this.

You may find that if a design leader has agreed to a brief (including expected delivery times) and signed it then they will be more likely to work on your designs instead of other departments or projects designs (who don’t have a clear agreement).

It is not enough to send the design lead a list of target dates or descriptions, you need to set it all out in a clear document and get them to agree to (and preferably sign) this.

Note that final design review and signoff can be a big bottle neck if there is only one designer authorised to do this.

Increase Efficiency In the Office

In an office dedicated to your project, seek ways to improve efficiency, and don’t allow “green” or “efficiency” measures to actually decrease efficiency.

For example, I have seen many offices that have removed all the rubbish bins and recycling bins from the office areas. Staff are told to use the bins in the kitchen or “designated areas” this makes it necessary for staff to walk away from their desk to dispose of rubbish or to store it in the desk until they have time. This can create messy desks, safety hazards, and force people to waste time taking rubbish and recycling to bins, it also means people recycle less because it is too much hassle. This is especially difficult for visitors to the office (short-term or contract staff) who don’t know where the bins are.

It is also worth finding all the tasks in the office that waste people’s time and find ways to improve them.

For example:

  • Rubbish bin locations
  • Clearly label sections in stationery cabinets so people can find what they need quickly. Requiring people to sign out stationery is a time waster. It is better to have a sheet for requesting special items and an admin person to check what needs restocking regularly.
  • Easy to find/access user manuals for desk phones (for call forwarding etc).
  • Make lists of shortcuts for common software available
    • Windows, Word, Excel etc
    • It is amazing how many people click-through multiple menus to copy and paste instead of using ctrl c, ctrl v etc

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and Records

It is important to keep a good record of the things you do to meet your stated goals.

E.g. Goal to improve safety – keep a record of all the safety issues you have raised in meetings.

Keeping these records helps prove to project stakeholders that you are actively working towards achieving the project KPI’s and it also provides evidence in performance reviews of you.

Make Project Policies, Procedures, and Forms Easy to Find

For projects to run efficiently the team members need to be able to find and use policies, procedures and particularly forms easily and without having to spend time looking for them or asking others for them.

The project management office should make all these documents very easy to find on the corporate intranet, with searchable tags, keywords, etc and a list of all those documents (with links to the documents) easily accessible.

It is no use having to use a search function that lists every mention of that word to be able to find a form.

Start Meetings On time

Starting meetings on time and finishing on time creates in the team a sense of organisation and planning.

If meetings constantly start late, people will turn up later and later. This will waste time but will also create a sense that the organiser/PM doesn’t have control of the project or doesn’t care about it.

Starting on time helps:

  • Build team commitment
  • Promotes organisation
  • Saves time
  • Creates a sense of purpose
  • Helps deliver the project on schedule.