Are you leading an innovative technology project, where there are components of the project that have never been done before? We often lead projects like this, and we have learned a few tricks that help us deliver these projects on-time and on-budget. Here are our top 5 tips for the week, for managing these projects.
- Spend more time with the team, and less time with your project plan. Innovative technology projects are inherently unpredictable, so you will never be able to create a full list of all of the tasks at the beginning of the project. Keep your project plan, but spend time every day talking to your team and finding out what is really going on on your project.
- Have daily 15-minute stand-up meetings with your project team. Ask questions like: What did you complete yesterday? What is on your plate today? What obstacles are in your way? What have you learned, and how will this impact the project?
- Talk to your user base (Steering Committee, Working Groups, etc) as often as possible. Review prototypes and early versions of the system as soon as possible, preferably with daily or weekly builds that you can review early.
- Don’t just ask users if they like something: watch them use it, see how easy or hard it is for them to figure it out, and test improvements along the way. It is great to ask for feedback, but you also need to watch people using the system: you will learn a huge amount from doing this, so do it as often as possible.
- Don’t assume you can follow the same process on every innovative project. Keep up with the latest innovations in areas including Lean Startup, Agile, etc, and apply these processes where they make sense on your project. You will find many areas where these techniques apply to larger technology projects, since they are set up to handle uncertainty.
Let us know what techniques you are using to manage your innovative technology projects. We would love to share more of our ideas and find out how you are managing these projects too.