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Planning and Project Management

March 17, 2016

From the very beginning we are taught the importance planning has in setting and achieving a goal. Whether that goal be the completion of a particular project at work, improving time management skills or even saving up to buy a house. No matter what the goal, it is the plan you put in place that will help chart the course and steer you in the direction of achieving it.

Despite planning being such an integral part of goal setting (especially within organisations), many companies have difficulty in effectively planning and mapping out their goals. Planning takes time and to properly map out the key tasks or objectives you want to achieve, you first have to review the current operations of the organisation and identify what could be improved; a daunting prospect for many organisations.

aXcelerate embarked on this very process two Friday’s ago, when the whole team took part in a two hour planning and project management session. Led by both our managing and founding directors Reay and Jules, the purpose of the session was to bring all of our creative aXcelerate minds together to assess what was working well and what could be developed further, within our own student management system.

This development session was part of an ongoing initiative within aXcelerate to develop and involve all of our stakeholders, especially our human capital; our employees. We will continue to host these two hour sessions each month on a wide range of topics including effective customer service skills, handling difficult behaviour and time management in order to boost both the productivity and skill set of our staff.

In Friday’s session all staff were split into their designated teams (sales & marketing, implementation, customer support) and asked to initially brainstorm the key areas or features we thought were necessary to run an effective student management system. Once each team had identified these key areas, we had to assess which of these areas we perform well and and which areas can be developed further, to achieve a better result. Once these processes had been identified we were then set the task of mapping out how to develop these processes.

All teams came up with a number of processes relating to our sales process, data migration, training and of course our communication tools, to ensure we are getting back to our clients as soon as possible. We also discussed the possibility of developing some new features in regards to finance, reporting and templates and making them all the more convenient for our clients.

While coming up with ideas for new processes is all well and good, these ideas are useless without a thorough plan behind them to ensure they become reality. So, to ensure that all teams followed through with their ideas, we then spent some time working backwards from the end goal (the desired business processes) and map out the logical steps it would take to get to this point.

Jules and Reay also emphasised the importance of designating an owner for each step and giving each step a due date to be completed by. Having both a deadline and a task ‘owner’  motivates the team (especially the owner) to complete the step and helps them to better visualise the end result.

Of course once setting out a thorough plan, the next step is to implement it. This can often be a continual and time consuming process, especially when the plan involves changing a particular process; changing behaviour patterns doesn’t happen over night. Because of this, aXcelerate plan to revisit the plans made during the session each week, monitor progress and check in on whether steps have been completed by the desired deadlines.

Despite the thoroughness and methodology of the planning session, planning is always an exciting time for aXcelerate. It provides us with the opportunity to further develop and enhance our system and ensure we are meeting our client’s needs. We look forward to releasing some new and exciting features as the work from our most recent planning session comes to fruition. Stay tuned!

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