Bottlenecks will “thwart” your progress

Is “thwart” a word?  I think it is and I like it, , , except when it happens to me!! 😦

It means:  “prevent from accomplishing a purpose”

Bottlenecks are limiting constraints of a project. In any project there will be one or more bottlenecks that can prevent you from completing the project successfully. It might be getting the resource you need, it may be failing to complete a critical task on time, or any number of other issues.

One of the important responsibilities of a project manager is to identify the bottlenecks of the project and to figure out how to eliminate them or minimize their impact.

Bottlenecks are the “breakers” of projects – Bottlenecks exist in every project and are just waiting to spoil your successful completion of the project.

A key focus for any Project Manager is to identify and eliminate bottlenecks – A strong project manager understands the relevance that bottlenecks have in regard to project success. Because of this insight, successful project managers work diligently to determine where the bottlenecks are and how to address them early on.

Eliminating a bottleneck can create more bottlenecks – When you eliminate a bottleneck it may create one or more new bottlenecks, usually further down the project timeline. Be aware of this fact because you will need to “seek and destroy” any new bottlenecks that occur.

An example of this is that you might eliminate a bottleneck in a manufacturing assembly line thinking that when the bottleneck is eliminated you will produce more “widgets”. However, in some cases the elimination of an identified bottleneck may create more bottlenecks downstream in the assembly process and actually reduce your production output of widgets rather than increase it.

Eliminating a bottleneck can have big benefits – When you eliminate a bottleneck, it often frees up time within your project and can actually build in time buffer for other tasks of your project. Keeping your project on time or possibly improving the time schedule can reduce the cost of the project and positions the company to reap the benefits of the project sooner.

When you build a project plan, schedule the tasks conservatively to help insure you can complete them on time. Finding any bottlenecks that positions you to complete the project ahead of schedule is a huge benefit when it occurs.

Anticipate and look for project and business bottlenecks – Make it your mission to find the bottlenecks in your projects or business environment. Anticipate where they can occur and do what you can to detect them early and to eliminate them once discovered.

Example:
When you have a project to open a remote office that requires connectivity to your network, one of the primary bottlenecks is to establish the local circuit connection in the new office. The specific bottleneck that you have very little control over is with the local telecom company in getting the local connection up and running. This issue can be frustrating and can hurt your credibility with the clients who plan to move into the new office and need systems connectivity to work if you don’t achieve your committed timelines.

One of the things I used to do was to estimate 60-90 days to get the connection established in certain parts of the US because our experience with telecom companies in these regions often took that long. It should only take 30 to 45 days at most but some companies are simply slower than others.

If you plan for the best possible time it should take, it’s pretty much a certain way to fail in the project. I always try to put a conservative time frame with buffer into these type of plans.

Estimate conservatively and begin focusing your resources on pushing the connectivity as soon as possible. I used to tell my technical resources that I wanted connectivity as soon as possible although we built into the plan for it to be there in 60-90 days from the start of the project. I would rather pay a couple of months of the telecom costs even though we aren’t using it than to miss the date by a week.

Office openings have several events planned that require scheduling and that affect many people such as training, moving furniture and equipment, etc. It’s much cheaper to pay two months of unused telecom charges than what it costs our company when we can’t open the office as planned.

Minimizing the downtime is key, so getting the connectivity in place ahead of time actually gives us more flexibility in coordinating the office opening. It’s a great relief when we know we have eliminated one of the primary stumbling blocks, or bottlenecks, in this type of project.

Summary
In any project, one of the best things you can do to help insure you deliver the project on time is to find the bottlenecks and do what you can to eliminate or minimize their impact on the project. Be proactive and hunt the bottlenecks down and start working on them and you’ll find yourself achieving more success.

Don’t let bottlenecks “thwart” your progress !!

One response to “Bottlenecks will “thwart” your progress

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Posts of 2010 | ITLever™

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s