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Is it Possible to Do More Project Management with Less?
By Bruce McGraw

I don’t know about you, but recently I have heard the phrase “doing more with less” many, many times. It has come from technology managers in both the commercial sector and public sector. Corporations and government organizations alike continue to reduce the size of their workforces while attempting to “get work done” (or sometimes more work done) in spite of hiring freezes. Work as we know it, including project management, is undergoing profound change. With colleagues laid off and a wave of upcoming baby boomer retirements, what’s a professional project manager in a PMO to do? Is it possible to do more with less in our field?

The initial knee jerk reaction, of course is to counter, “but I need more skilled project managers.” I know that I have sure had my fill of people being assigned as “project managers” who are little more than team members who are now leads. But the reality is—at least for the present—corporation and agency leadership is not likely to give us the full component of project staff members that we think we need.

So, in a spirit of finding a silver lining in the project staffing cloud under which many of us are working, I have a few suggestions to help us survive doing more with less.

  • Develop templates that even non-PMPs can use –
  • We use templates all the time and many are available free from vendors. A template done correctly can help codify the information you need and help manage the communication of project data.

  • Create online forms that streamline common requests and approvals –

  • If you are fortunate enough to have an online collaboration portal (Like SharePoint, eRoom, Google Docs – now Google Drive, BaseCamp, etc) then create a form that can be used to facilitate processes. Since you don’t have time to chase around getting approvals, use the power of the computer to capture and route these types of processes.

  • Define and automate workflows that help your team get work done –

  • If you are even more fortunate to have a tool that does workflows (Like SharePoint, Clarity PPM, ProcessIT, etc) then you can create a workflow to manage the processes or take a form and send it through an approval process.

  • Automate the most time consuming processes with a tool or template. Things like status reporting, resource allocation, demand management, requests and approvals, or schedule updating. (Again the big tools are Project Server, Clarity, and many other online tools)

This is not an exhaustive list – but hopefully is a good starter for you.

When faced with challenges such as doing more with less, smart firms find ways to innovate through processes and technology. What additional techniques is your organization using to maintain professional project management with fewer resources?

Bruce A. McGraw is COO/EVP for Cognitive Technologies, a WBE/DBE consulting firm delivering project /program management, collaborative processes, and organizational effectiveness to commercial and government clients (www.cognitive-technologies.com). Bruce has been a program manager for over 25 years and has experience across multiple industries. His ability to craft pragmatic solutions to meet project goals, coupled with experience in all aspects of project management, enables him to meet customer expectations with on-time, within-budget deliveries. Bruce is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and is an active member of the Project Management Institute. Bruce authors a project management blog at Fear No Project and can be contacted at (512) 380-1204 or Bruce.McGraw@cogtechinc.com.

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