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This chapter is from the book

Power Tools for the Manager

Here’s how to get back on track:

  1. Doing tasks simultaneously—If there are several tasks in a row, each having to be completed before the next can start, then reevaluate the sequence to see whether that is necessary. There might be a couple of tasks that can be run together or in parallel, allowing you to get you back on schedule.
  2. Sequencing of task starts and stops—In the initial layout of a project, you have certain tasks that have to be completed before the next task can start. Reevaluate whether that is true because there might be other tasks that can start before all the requirements of the previous task have been completed. This will allow you to get a jump on the schedule.
  3. Adding more resources from other tasks—You might have to get more resources for a given task or process that is taking too long to complete. Remember, resources can be anything the organization has, whether human, equipment, computers, or lines of credit. Temporarily adding a few more human resources on a task can bring it back on schedule and help the overall completion date. Every day you slip adds to the end date!
  4. Evaluating the scope or requirement of the task—What did you set out to accomplish and did you bite off more than you could chew? Sometimes taking another look at what you are doing can help bring focus back to the team. Teams also have a tendency to get distracted and drift off topic, putting them behind. Keep the team focused on the task at hand.
  5. Determining whether you have the right skill sets on this project or task—Evaluate who is on your team or in the department and whether they really have the skills to complete the tasks and processes on schedule and on budget. It is great to have lesser-skilled resources on a task to give them the experience they need in order to improve. There is a schedule and a budget that also have to be met, however, and if those resources will likely struggle to hit those targets, you might have to get them a little help or consider another, more skilled resource.

The manager might be overseeing several tasks and processes and might need to act as a program or project manager. This requires some other skills or knowledge that managers might not have. Depending on how high up the managers are and how many departments they oversee, they might view their departments like projects within a program to help organize them. How do you view your organization—as a department with a bunch of resources doing stuff? Or do you view it as a bunch of smaller groups or cells like small project groups?

One rule in organizing operations is to break things down into smaller components. This allows you to visualize and see the separate parts of your organizations more clearly. This is why a CEO doesn’t manage all the departments in the organization, because they would just see one mass of resources. When an organization is broken down into smaller departments, the CEO can see separate functional parts of the company being managed independently.

The operations manager needs to view his department or organization the same way, as smaller groups or components, to better monitor and control his department. This is also taken down another level to completing tasks, processes, or projects as you break them down into smaller pieces to better understand the goal of the task and help organize the resources working on the task. Depending on how big the process or project is, you might have to break down each piece further into smaller subtasks.

Organization starts with the “view” or perception managers have of what they are managing. One of the successful tools project managers have is the visibility of the project, and breaking the project down gives better clarity of the details. Viewing the department in smaller pieces helps give clarity and detail to what is being done, allowing the manager to actually “manage” tasks, costs, and schedules so that completion is realized. This also allows the manager to take on special projects as well and see them to completion, giving the manager power in what they are trying to accomplish. The perception will be of organization, visibility, and knowing that they are more in control than simply watching. Managers need to know that they have the ability to make changes if needed, and using key tools will give the manager confidence to “manage.”

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