How sharing the score of your projects improves performance

How sharing the score of your projects improves performance

People have some peculiar traits. They aren’t always content just to do as they’re told. They like to know the reasons for doing A rather than B. They want to know how the whole job is progressing, and whether they themselves are doing good work. They want to know the score, just as they would if they were at a sports contest. Imagine watching a high-level basketball game with no scoreboard—you’d have to devote your full attention to keeping score rather than just enjoying the game.

The Project Management for Profit system is all about keeping score. Projects are a team sport. Every project manager depends on their team members, just as every coach depends on the players. Shouldn’t the players know the score, too?

We believe they should, and we have learned over the years that sharing the key indicators of a project makes for far better project management in all sorts of ways. What is the best way to communicate all the information that the team needs to know every week?

In our experience, simply handing out pieces of paper with a sea of grey numbers rarely has the necessary impact. That’s why it is important to have some kind of public scoreboard. This scoreboard should include the key indicators that measure how the project is doing in real-time. Crucially, team members must understand what the numbers mean. Taking the time to train and make sure everyone understands the numbers and what they mean, especially at the beginning, is vital for a scoreboard to help your team keep projects on time and on budget.

One way to get these numbers in front of everyone is to put them on a large whiteboard for all to see. The size and impact of the numbers really highlights how each project is performing. Everyone sees the data all the time, not just in the weekly team meeting. People learn to watch the numbers the way they track any indicator of their performance.

However, whiteboards might not work for every company. Technology companies, where everyone carries a laptop, might find it better to use computer-based spreadsheets or document-sharing software. And of course, that approach is essential when a project team is geographically dispersed. Whatever method works best for you to share the scoreboard, find ways to bring color and other design elements into the mix. Make it as big as you can. Not many things that are little are as boring as a page filled with small, dull, gray numbers. People are much more apt to take notice when the most important numbers leap right out at you—particularly if you know exactly what each one means to you and your team.

If everyone on a project team sees (and learns to understand) the fundamental data showing how they are doing, they can spot trouble early. They can come up with ideas for solving problems, for saving money, and for getting things done slicker, quicker, and cheaper. They will understand why the project manager is pursuing path A rather than path B, and they’ll help things along. Just like a sports team playing in a championship game, giving your team the score helps them perform to their best.

Source: Project Management for Profit by Roger Thomas, Joe Knight and Brad Angus, together with Joe Cornwell and Joe Van Den Berge from Setpoint Inc. Setpoint has a 25-year history of successfully designing and implementing custom rides and attractions for the top amusement and theme parks in the world.

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