Why is it so important to improve project cycle times?
Before we get into process remedies and solutions, let’s review why it’s so important to optimize project cycle times. Projects are the agent of change in an organization. You can’t implement a strategic initiative, resource delivers a new service internally, or bring a new product to market without a program that consists of projects. A 10% decrease in project cycle time has a multiplier effect on corporate cost reduction or avoidance targets, or time-to-market-driven revenue. That is to say, as every project in the pipeline starts and ends earlier, these financial benefits accrue earlier and compound.
Statistics show that for companies that don’t have project methodology in place, 79% of their projects fail to deliver on time. But, even for companies that follow a methodology, 71% of projects still fail to meet schedules. What’s going on here?
There are a number of factors that continue to drive this. Years ago, this could be explained by a mismatch between maturity levels and the right process and tools. That’s still a challenge for many companies. But, now you have to layer on top of that the challenge of managing constant change.
This includes changes to business strategies and priorities, budgets, market conditions, the competitive landscape, and your talent pool. Moreover, change in these areas keeps accelerating and any one of them can affect project success and project cycle times.
Key Strategies to Improve Project Cycle Times
There are a number of levers that you can pull to improve project cycle times like improving collaboration and automating workflows. But, the best place to start is with basic resource management. This is because from a tactical perspective, if you don’t have the right resources with the right skills available for your highest value projects and they are not working at the maximum utilization rate achievable, all the collaboration and automation in the world is not going to move the needle.
From a more strategic perspective, it’s critical to manage and develop your resources so that you have the project workforce agility to adapt to the constant change eluded to above. You need to put your resources in places they can succeed today and have a longer-term plan to develop and deploy them for future success.
What’s the best way for organizations to start leveraging better resource management to improve project cycle times? That depends on your maturity level, but for most organizations, Sciforma recommends that you start by gaining basic visibility to your resources (i.e. who are they, where are they, what are they good at and what are they working on right now). The good news is that 80% of the potential benefits of resource management can be achieved by gaining basic visibility to your resources. That’s the low hanging fruit. Read more by downloading our e-book on the subject.