Projects need organization and structure. Without structure, budgets are approved before estimations are done, change is not managed, and it becomes impossible to keep scope, delays and budgets in check.

So most organizations adopt a project management process. The goal is noble: to clarify what each person needs to do, when and how. To ensure that the project is following the logical steps, from initiating to closing.

Then, time happens.

Over time, processes grow and start taking more and more place in the organization. Soon enough, the processes take a life of their own and, instead of helping the project along, they hinder it.

Processes and ground rules should not block the project. They should help it.

5 tips to trim your processes.

  1. Remove additional steps. A process is there to ensure things are done in order, not to multiply the number of steps required to finish something. For example, in software development: Requirements > Analysis > Design > Development > Testing > Implementation is a natural process. If you add sign-off steps in between each of those (instead of making them part of the bigger step), you'll simply create delays.
  2. Clean up your forms. We build templates originally to save time, but we end up modifying them over time, and they become a mess. Take a fresh look at your forms and remove anything that's not absolutely necessary.
  3. Is it absolutely necessary? What would happen if a step in the process was removed? Would chaos ensue? Would an unfit product be released? If the answer is more along the line of "Jerry from sales would feel left out," you should reconsider how to integrate these stakeholders in your process.
  4. Can you elevator-pitch your process? A process is there to make things clear for everyone.  If you can't explain the process clearly within a few minutes, then it's too complicated.
  5. Talk to your team. Often, people will grudgingly follow an established process (or refuse to follow it), without telling anyone why. Getting feedback from your team about the pain points in your process will give you an excellent starting point.