Cowshed Projects - Better projects and profit from flexible project management
You’ve won a new project, yeah. Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew exactly what needed doing and you just got on with it. You’d just then have to manage yourself and get the work done. Deliver the product. Dreamy…
That’s not the real world of projects though, it’s one of the key differences between manufacture for a product and manufacture for a project. There will always be fog to peer through. Fog from lack of information. Fog from different interpretation of information. Fog from knowing where to get the information from. Fog from who has the final decision. Fog from interpreting those decisions.
If it wasn’t for the fog, how quickly would you get the work done? Quicker anyway. So you have to manage the fog, turn it to mist or clouds. Try and start to see some blue sky. Once you get to that point you can get on with the work effectively. Clear the fog, the time spent finding out will reduce.
If you could spend even 5% less hours on a £20K job through its management, that would be an extra £1,000 in time saved. Time which you could potentially double the value of by using that time to work on another project!
The question then is how do you get rid of the fog.
Managing that fog is tricky, you’ll never get rid of it completely, it can be reduced though. To do this, focus on it and focus on it in the right order to stop repeating actions, redoing work and get the answers. The quicker you get the information you need, the more time saved and better profit.
The important part of managing a build project, is getting the information and communication right, quickly and in the right order. It helps efficient procurement, your co-ordination and getting the job done and done well.
The manufacturing process is a waterfall process, you need to do one action to do the next, until you’re finished. To do this well you’ll need the right information in the right order. It will also need you to accept that you won’t have it all at the start, things will change, things will happen! The information will need managing.
The key to managing the work effectively is to prioritise and focus on the right information at the right time and do it consciously and communicate it. Inform the rest of the project team as part of the process to limit communication and information fog. In doing so getting the right information before you need it. To do this focus on the following questions in this order.
Why are you doing the project, what do you want to get from it, why is the project being done?
What are the most important elements? Where is the value? What of that value should be delivered first to the client so they can use it and other contractors can get on with their work?
What are going to be the difficult bits, what’s going to take the longest time to complete, what information is not available to complete parts of the work. Which elements effect other elements the most. Do elements need specialist knowledge?
Once you have this information, communicate it, then move onto executing the project:
Decide what you need to do and who is doing it
Understand and decide who is responsible for communicating to who and how. Make sure everyone knows! Clients, employees whoever is part of the project.
What information have you got, what do you need, where do you need to go to get that information, what information do you need to produce. Use the agreed communication plan.
Plan at a high level for achieving what you need to.
Have fun, get it built, but always keep in mind the why, priorities and complexity to retain focus on what needs to be done to stop the project from stalling.
Make sure all the project team know all of this or you have wasted your time, this is your project, you manage it or better still lead it.
Managing bespoke manufacturing projects is all about delivering the product, in a best order to deliver the value, for you and the client.
There are substantial benefits in terms of cost and reputation if you can improve how you run projects. Don’t miss out!
I'd love to hear your views, experiences and comments and if you're interested in finding out more, drop me a line.
Thanks for reading
Hi I'm Simon. I've worked in projects for a while now, either management or design. I love projects but they're frustrating. Hope some of this help you.