A perfect project pipeline, with work constantly flowing and everything running smoothly is the sign of a very healthy business and effective marketing and operations collaboration. Achieving this however and actually building a project pipeline that functions so excellently can be a considerable task in itself.
In any form of project management, being aware of how your project pipeline is constructed and what you can do to improve it is a valuable skill. The key is to make sure your projects flow easily so that your team is performing at an optimum level, without either being underworked and disengaged or getting overworked and burnt out. Here’s how to go about creating that perfect pipeline.
Building a Project Pipeline
Keep measurements as standard as possible
When running multiple projects at the same time it can be easy to fall into the trap of value equivalence, that is, giving all tasks and projects the same weight. Not only is there a difference in monetary value of how much a task is worth, but some clients are more important than others and should be prioritized accordingly. To do this, use a standardized weighting and priority system, which can be as simple as a 1-10 scale which factors in deadline closeness, attached to all tasks so that it’s easily recognizable where the focus should be at any given time.
Don’t lose sight of inputs
A pipeline can have all the processes in place to ensure that work flows smoothly, but if there’s nothing entering it in the first place then it’s pointless. In this regard, guaranteeing that there are always projects coming down the line is a prerequisite for building a project pipeline that delivers value for the organization. To do this, a close connection is needed between the marketing and operations teams, so that the former knows what production capacity is available and the latter knows what direction to be moving towards for the next projects in the pipeline.
Maintain strong communication with all stakeholders
Close co-operation between marketing and operations is just one of the stakeholder relationships required for a strong project pipeline. Another is the communication you have with your client regarding delivery timelines and project status. Little’s Law is a mathematical theorem for project management which shows that individual project speed decreases across the board as more projects enter the pipeline. To keep clients on board and happy, without having to burn your team out, it’s always best to be as honest and up front with them as possible, as difficult as it might be at the time, disappointing them with early news of delays is a lot better than dropping a bombshell once they have a lot of other elements in place.
Be flexible with your resources
Keeping your resources utilized at an optimum level can be tricky at the best of times but when dealing with many projects in a pipeline it goes to another level. Identifying delays or stoppages early, allows you to prepare team members to shift to another element of production. One thing your pipeline can’t afford is team members losing hours, days or even weeks waiting for something to be cleared up. There should always be defined action slots and backups, so that if something unexpected occurs redeployment is smooth and swift.
Estimating task length, factoring risk, errors and reiterations into your calculations and establishing task order priority are all necessary elements in building an effective project pipeline. To track, update and monitor all of these elements, the best tool to help is Clarizen’s project management platform. Talk to us today to find out how we can help keep your project pipeline flowing.