In some companies, scope creep has become such a chronic problem that middle managers create deadlines for their employees and then tell a much later deadline to their boss or clients. It’s understandable when problems arise that push back deliverables, but if this is a common occurrence across everything your team does, it’s time for an intervention.
While scope creep frustrates your clients, it also burns out your employees. If they have to put in 12-hour shifts to hit a deadline, their work will suffer and they’ll need a break after the project is completed.
As a manager, it’s your job to keep the project on-track. With a little organization, and quality workflow management software, you can reduce employee stress and easily hit your deadlines.
All Necessary Steps Are Logged in Writing
In any given meeting, there’s someone who writes every word down, someone who scatters a few notes in shorthand, and someone who didn’t bring a pen. If this is a client call, or you’re reviewing project requirements, then only half of the instructions will be noted and remembered.
By managing the to-do workflow of your team, you can list out exactly what tasks need to be completed, and what’s expected of the employee. If the client has provided resources — like examples of past work they like or requirements for sizing — you can attach those so the right team members have them on hand.
And if there is a regular, predictable process that follows a meeting — say you’ve got a uniform set of next steps that follow a client call — you can use workflow sharing to copy/paste the steps of that process into a new team. That way, you don’t have to re-invent the same workflow over and over again.
By writing all of the necessary tasks and deliverables out, your team won’t forget major project requirements 24 hours before the final deadline.
There’s a Clear Explanation of Who Does What
A nasty side effect of scope creep tends to be finger-pointing. Somewhere along the line, someone will drop the ball, and everyone will try to cover themselves by pointing out their co-workers’ errors. This creates a toxic work environment and can even force your best employees to leave.
With task management software, you remove the vague instructions that come from verbal and email communication, and can assign specific tasks to different team members. Your employees can check what tasks are due that week, and both parties receive notifications when deadlines are missed. These tools are especially useful for managing remote employees, when it’s harder to monitor what they’re working on throughout the day.
Managers Can Check on Progress Seamlessly
About 15% of an organization’s collective time is spent in meetings every year. This number spikes for middle-managers, who spend 35% of their time in meetings. If half of that time is reviewing projects with employees and making sure everyone is on task, then most of those meetings (67% to be exact) are a tremendous waste of time.
Workflow manager software reduces the “who does what” part of meetings. After a general overview of what the client wants, and by when, teams can break up and start working on the tasks assigned to them.
Instead of checking in on employees, managers can scan the highly-visual display to see who’s hitting their tasks (green) and who is falling behind (red and yellow). This reduces micromanaging, and also prevents distractions by constant check-ins.
Notifications Reinforce Deadlines
Speaking of micromanaging, bad managers cost companies $550 billion annually because of turnover and reduced employee engagement. Basically, if you don’t trust your employees, then you will check on them constantly, but this constant contact reduces their morale and makes them work less.
In many ways, taking the manager out of the picture actually improves scope creep because it lets employees accomplish what they need to do without distractions from management. Managers can see what gets done, and both parties receive notifications when a deadline is fast approaching.
One of the main reasons employees like workflow manager software is that it’s there when they need their boss. Instead of interrupting a meeting or providing the backstory on the project, they can ask questions, request resources or alert the team to problems within the context of the assignment. Their managers can visually see what’s going on, and make better decisions because they have all of the information at their fingertips.
Quality Control is Implemented
Think about task management software like locks in a canal. After the first steps of the project are logged as complete, the lock opens, and the managers and QA team have tasks opened to them. If an employee marks a task as submitted, it can wait in limbo until someone higher marks it as approved. Each company can implement its own compliance steps, from digital signatures to physical uploads.
While most managers view scope creep as an employee problem, the client can be just as guilty of slowing down a project. If a draft is completed, but the client takes two weeks to sign and approve it, then the deadline needs to be pushed back on. If the client asks for items beyond the initial requirements, the deadline needs to be extended again.
Not only do these tools monitor employees, but they also make sure your team doesn’t get blamed for bad client behavior.
Your Project Workflow Will Improve Over Time
The first time you try to list every step of the project, you’re likely to forget a few items. However, the next time a different client makes a similar order, or you create something with the same workflow, you can copy the old project and make updates to use it again. Eventually, you will identify which tasks are extemporaneous and which smaller items are crucial — but regularly forgotten.
Your project management software can also identify who your star players are and who regularly drops the ball. You can see clearly who didn’t complete their assignments over time, and who had to pick up their slack. With 78% of employees citing recognition as a crucial factor in career happiness, you can’t afford to let your best players overwork themselves without getting a pat on the back.
These tools are meant to provide a clearer picture of how your team is balanced without the time-consuming meetings that slow down the day. The manager’s view of the project is objective, and slacking employees can’t hide behind their better peers.
Scope creep is a plague upon businesses across all industries and company levels, but a well-organized team that has clear assignments and goals can fight back against this disease and hit their deadlines. Task management software improves clarity, expels excuses, and makes life easier for managers and A-players alike.