Project Management

Lessons from IKEA about IT Project Management

In a post for Banking Exchange, Anna Murray says that managing projects is like assembling an IKEA desk—you have to read the instructions, draw a draft of your plan, lay the pieces on the floor, match them up, and concentrate on putting everything together. She offers a few tips to deal with a complicated project task:

  1. Identify what you’re up against.
  2. Get the timeline to plan your task.
  3. View it as a good thing.

Build It Right

Few jump at the chance to be handed hard work, especially the type of work that requires both effort and your thinking cap. However, this is the type of work that drives business forward. One way to identify whether a task is more complicated than usual is to compare it with a relatively simpler task. Complicated tasks often require various steps which are dependent upon each other. This means they will require in-depth understanding in addition to effort and an unpredictable timing because mistakes are common.

After identifying what you’re up against, confront the challenge by planning a timeline to get the work done. Think of the final goal as a puzzle; you’d want to identify different pieces in order to match them later on. Set up a schedule with expected due dates and follow it strictly. You can’t have the puzzle figured out in one or two days, but you will eventually if you put in constant efforts.

The last but not least thing to remember is that complicated tasks are not harmful. They will help you grow your skills and push you to the limits of your capability. With good organization and diligence, the possibility of success is very high. Murray talks about common misconceptions about complicated tasks:

Now, a word of caution about technical folks and programmers:

‘They tend to point out all the detail and intricacies of a complicated project to managers. It can make you as a manager far more fearful than is warranted.’

Remember, complicated projects will almost certainly get done, perhaps with some errors with regard to timeline.

This is because all or virtually all of the steps are known. There is little hidden and therefore little risk when what you face is complication.

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