Sometimes, a project just stops moving forward. Problems can pop up and initiate a chain of blockers. The most effective project managers are those who can anticipate, identify, and eliminate these project blockers.
No blockers are insurmountable, but getting past them can be tough if you don’t have a plan or the right tools. Here are some of the best ways to find out why blockers occur and what you can do to get around them.
Whether teams work together or are scattered in different locations and timezones, communication issues can cause a lack of awareness of impeding problems. Customizable, easy-to-use work tracking software will project blockers from catching teams by surprise. These tools give your teams the opportunity to see each other’s progress and easily stay informed on any updates, issues, or blockers. Tracking can also give you a roadmap to follow back to the source of the blocker. You’ll be able to see which employees worked on the relevant tasks, when they worked on it, and what the actual problems are. Team members can also comment on any issues or delays they’re experiencing right in the task cards, which can facilitate early-warning communication about problems that are impeding their work.
Streamline the feedback cycle
Getting feedback from stakeholders can be tough. Often, projects rely on the feedback and approval of some of your organization’s busiest people. Many project blockers can be traced back to a feedback cycle that’s far from streamlined.
Improving your feedback cycle can mean removing people from the approval process, swapping them out for alternate stakeholders, or even just doing away with the approval process entirely. Not everything needs an executive’s stamp of approval. For example, you could move to a system of implicit approval, where supervisors are notified “this is what’s going up tomorrow unless you tell us otherwise or have changes to suggest.”
Automate as many tasks as you can
Automating tasks and removing manual steps can make many processes flow much more smoothly. Automation speeds up workflows and eliminates potential bottlenecks and sticking points. It’s also more efficient, easier to monitor, and reduces the amount of time and money you have to spend on training.
Train yourself to recognize project blockers
When it comes to project blockers, denial is a real thing. It’s all too easy to pivot away from a blocker with some vague intentions of coming back to it later, pretending that you’re not blocked, you’re just reprioritizing. Avoidance and procrastination can delay the inevitable for a long time, but sooner or later, blockers have to be dealt with. Sometimes you have to acknowledge that you might need somebody else’s help to complete a task, or that you need to talk to a team member (or their manager) who’s holding up your progress.
Communicate about problems asynchronously
Don’t wait for an immediate answer when you have a question about an issue that’s come up — use asynchronous communication platforms, like those provided by your work tracking tools. This will allow you to shift your focus to other tasks you need to work on until you get the information you need.
Discuss project blockers in your daily scrum
If you’re working in an Agile development environment, your daily scrum is an ideal time and place to bring up blockers and brainstorm ways to neutralize them. Every daily scrum should include some attempt to tease out blockers — you can ask team members if they had to stop, slow down, or hesitate at any point when they were working on recent tasks. If so, ask what prompted it and what might help them avoid similar issues in the future.
Break through blockers with Unito
Are you leading teams that work across multiple tools? That divide between tools could be the reason why project blockers are slipping through unnoticed. Having to jump between tools can make it tough to keep visibility on the most important things your teams are up to.
You can bring everything into focus with Unito. By building workflows with Unito, you can take advantage of deep, two-way integrations, meaning a project’s most important information is kept updated across multiple tools. With Unito, you can turn disparate tools into a single collaborative envivornment in just a few clicks. Want to find out how it works? Check it out.
Don’t let project blockers stop you
We all face blockers in our daily tasks, whether they’re minor distractions or seemingly insurmountable problems. By calling them what they are and falling back on a strategy to pinpoint their causes and figure out how to remove them, you can keep your work processes advancing toward their goals. Just make sure you take advantage of your workflow tools and project management software — they’ve all got features and functions designed to help you identify, discuss, and bust through your project blockers.
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