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How to Plan a Successful Efficiency Project

To increase productivity or decrease waste in your business or organization, you need to plan carefully for an efficiency project. In order to progress efficiently and eventually arrive at the project’s stated goal, you need a plan for clear team communication, upholding product/service quality, and measuring success.

Establish communication

With the diversity of audiences that will be looking for information about your project and the array of data that you will be collecting, it’s essential that you prepare a project Communications Management Plan to avoid duplication of effort and to ensure that nothing and no one falls through the cracks.

At a minimum, your plan should specify the following for all project communications:

  • Target audience: The people whose information needs are addressed through the project communication. This may be the team as a whole, a subcommittee, upper management, or outside users.

  • Information needs: The information that the target audience wants and/or needs.

  • Information-sharing activity: The specific type of information-sharing activity to be used to transmit information to the target audience (written reports, presentations, and meetings, for example).

  • Content: The specific data to be shared in the project communication.

  • Frequency: When the information-sharing activity occurs (can be either regularly-scheduled or ad hoc)

  • Data collection: How and when the data for the report are collected

Ensure product quality

Delivering a single end product doesn’t mean much if you ultimately need a million copies and you had to create 99 defective versions to get to that single desirable one. Your project plan needs to specify what level of quality the end product needs to meet. You may express this in terms of Six Sigma (“the new manufacturing process must operate at five sigma”) or in other concrete terms.

In a CRM conversion example, the desired end result includes importing all of the old system data into the new CRM. However, since the old system had custom fields that were not always used in a uniform manner, some manual effort is required to read and process that questionable data.

Specifying whether you care about importing that data at all, or whether it’s an absolute business requirement to port 100 percent of that data, helps determine what resources are needed and when the project is truly complete.

Construct an audience list

A project’s audience is any person or group that supports, is affected by, or is interested in your project. Your project’s audience can be inside or outside your organization, and knowing who they are helps you plan whether, when, and how to involve them.

A project audience list is a living document. You need to start developing your list as soon as you begin thinking about your project. Write down any names that occur to you; when you discuss your project with other people, ask them who they think may be affected by or interested in your project.

Suggested audience categories include upper management; requesters, project managers, end users, team members, groups normally involved, groups needed just for this project, clients, collaborators, vendors, suppliers, contractors, regulators, professional societies, and the public.

After you’ve written a few audience lists, you can construct an internal template that includes the categories of list members and even pre-lists of specific names. In the future, you can start with this list template instead of having to start from scratch. Not only does this save time, but it guarantees that you won’t forget certain key roles and names, because they’re already on the list!

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