Callahan Clients, please log in for direct access to:
Learn What You're Missing
Upgrade Your Subscription
Thank you for your interest in reading the fantastic content we have on CreditUnions.com! However, the page you are trying to access is for subscribers-only. To learn more, select an option below.
All users must now log in to read, research, browse, and have fun on CreditUnions.com. Yes, we still offer freebies. And, yes, it’s worth the extra effort.
Print or PDF this article today because you won't have access to it later. Or, click here to learn how to get 24/7 access.
Credit unions – or just about any organization – frequently pursue many projects simultaneously. Almost inevitably, the number of small and large projects in a portfolio exceeds the available resources such as funds, equipment, staff time, and competencies. As a result, we’ve seen what can happen: over-flowing in-boxes of tasks clamoring for your – and your managers’ attention. Everyone is expected to multi-task to get project work done. Right?
Wrong. With so many project tasks assigned, so many distractions caused by jumping from one task to another, and multi-tasking across projects – it can be overwhelming. This “project-hopping” can create undue stress on your organization’s capacity and abilities, often causing paralysis. Consequently, there is a lot of “work-in-process” (work started, but not finished) that quickly clogs the system – and keeps your credit union from achieving many project goals in a timely manner.
With all the technology available to us today, the more we multi-task, one would believe the more efficient we become. However, Professors David Meyer (University of Michigan) and Marcel Just (Carnegie Mellon University) have both conducted studies that conclude just the opposite – that multi-tasking increases inefficiencies rather than makes us more efficient. (NPR, The Thief of Time Multitasking is Inefficient, Studies Show)
How can we “unclog” the system and get more tasks and projects done? One of the most important levers for solving the multi-tasking inefficiencies in project management is to move from the philosophy of “just do it” to “do just it.” Rather than multi-tasking, staff should focus on a single task until it is completed and then move on to the next task. That way the task is finished and it can be handed to the next person (who needs the completed task to work-on/complete their task, etc.).
Focus is critical for task efficiency. For an employee to focus on the most important task to do next, projects must be prioritized. Otherwise, every project and task has the same “weight” and employees are left to make their own best “guess” on what to do next.
Prioritizing, however, is often a VERY difficult aspect of project management. Without an effective project selection and priority system, the capacity overload coupled with project politics will lead to frustration, confusion, and inefficient use of resources
Here are a few reasons why prioritizing projects are difficult:
The following tips will help reverse these difficulties:
Following these tips, use your vision, strategy, and scorecard to help determine the few projects that will make the biggest impact on your organization’s success. Communicate often and clearly your project priorities to allow your employees to focus on their work efforts – getting more done, faster. Next thing you know, your projects will be completed on time and on budget. Your credit union will be a more productive organization and, thusly, more valuable to your members. So don’t just do it; do just it!
For more information on project prioritization, please contact Jim Cardwell or Karla Norwood at Cardwell, 800-395-1410. Visit our Connections Online website: www.connectionsonline.net.
August 6, 2007
7/26/2012 04:02 PM
Good practical advice
When I first started reading this article, I thought, "excellent! This is exactly how I feel about our organization; we need more articles like this!" Then I read the solutions and realized that we are already doing all these things. We have a project management team, a "steering" or selection committee that determines which projects are selected based on priority. Management sets the priorities each year and we have 2 or 3 priorities which we consider most important or "vital". However, what happens is that for those two or three top priorities (or programs) there are maybe 5 to 10 projects created. Thus, our two to three vital programs turn into 30 projects which anyone person might be working on 3 to 6 at a time. I think maybe the difficulty is that we are usually doing transformational projects so even though we are only doing two or three each one consumes vast amounts of resources. I can hardly imagine doing 5 or 6 major projects. Thank you for writing this article I think that it’s an important topic for management to be discussing!
Excellent! We took on the task of adopting a very strick project management discipline two years ago and are close to "getting it right." The weight of the discipline is on scoping, but since scoping takes resources we have a beginning process that using a project request. In this request, the strategic link, the member and organization benefit and the hard costs are identified. The senior leadership team that represents all business units reviews the request and asks questions to determine if the strategic fit and benefits are worth the work. If approved at this level it then goes to a full scoping with a team made up representatives of each of the affected business units. This process has reduced the project integration and implementation time and the cost because time spent on scoping saving time spent later on work arounds or changes. Also using a tool like microsoft project for all projects keeps our project work in line with our manpower bandwidth.
Submit your email address to receive daily industry updates and web-only features.
P: (800) 446-7453 | F: (800) 878-4712
1001 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 1001
Washington, DC 20036