Keeping projects moving in any business can be a challenge, but with the help of technology, many of the traditional obstacles to efficiency can be overcome.
Some of the roadblocks have always been to create well-laid out plans, transfer documents to multiple people for editing, meet deadlines, and finally, get the proper approvals to get the project moving from paper to reality. New digital tools can facilitate each of these steps.
Tip #1. Start with Proven Templates
Projects of any kind have elements in common: definition, planning, execution, closing, managing, and assessing. In any industry or business, each of these elements will also have typical subheadings such as goals, steps to reach the goals, a timeline, reasons for the steps, procedures, managers, contributors, etc.
Groups with expertise in managing projects have developed template software packages which can help any company, large or small, develop and track a project from beginning to end, including schedules and deadlines.
Tip #2. Provide collaborative document writing and editing in real time
One of the largest bottlenecks in project flow is the development of documents when multiple people are expected to contribute, edit and approve them. Cloud computing has made it possible for any number of people to access documents and create, edit or comment. There are dozens of available document programs. Some are free, while others with more features may be expensive.
Real time commenting and editing keeps the process moving. Contributors will always be assured that they are responding to the most recent edits.
Tip #3. Consider Wiki software for complex documents
Another option for creation and documentation of text is wiki software. Wikis are ideal for documents that are complex and must be linked for easy navigation. Archives, appendices, images and exports are all easily accomplished, even with free software. The editors are simple WYSIWYG design, and users can be granted full or partial permissions.
Tip #4. E-signatures can expedite permissions
Understanding e-signatures and their capabilities may be key to getting a project out the door in a timely manner. Approvals from various managers, and even vendors or contractors might be required. E-signatures are recognized as legally binding. There is a long precedent for the acceptance of electronic signatures, going as far back as telegrams sent by Morse Code. Such signatures were first held binding in 1869. Faxed signatures, which are not originals, are also recognized, point-of-sale signing of electronic pads, and even emails have stood legal testing.
In most U.S. states, the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act is the accepted standard for what constitutes an acceptable electronic signature. By attaching a simple software package to project management documents, the required approvals can be obtained securely and quickly. This option can often save days of delay if papers must be physically moved from office to office to obtain needed signatures.
Tip #5. Allow participants to interact in real time
Some project software packages contain built-in indicators of other colleagues presence, and instant messaging capability. This allows participants to interact and discuss aspects of the project whether they are separated by a cubicle wall or an ocean. This ability to interact will enhance the speed of project development and delivery. A true team effort can be accomplished even when partners are separated by distance.
In today’s competitive market, moving an idea from a brainstorming session to a design ready for production quickly and effectively, with proper documentation is critical. The speed and efficiency of this process can be the difference between success and failure. Taking advantage of project building technology can turbo-charge your next project.