An illustration of a person falling into a hole, while another helps them get out.
7 Ways To Remove The Project Blockers Holding Up Your Team
An illustration of a person falling into a hole, while another helps them get out.

7 Ways To Remove The Project Blockers Holding Up Your Team

There’s no worse feeling for a project manager than when their project gets stuck. When there’s a deadline hanging over your head, it can be frustrating trying to figure out what’s going on. No matter what’s causing them or what form they take, project blockers can bring your projects to a screeching halt.

But no blocker is insurmountable. When you have the right tools, the right plan, and the right training, you can deal with common project blockers, anticipate them, and mitigate the impact they’ll have on your projects. Here are seven ways you can make sure a project blocker isn’t a project ender.

What is a project blocker?

Any single event that brings your project to a screeching halt can be considered a project blocker. They might halt the project for a few hours, a few days, maybe even a few months. A blocker can take many forms, but they all have this in common; a project can’t be completed until they’re dealt with. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of blockers you might come across:

  • People blockers: Did a person essential to the project just leave the company? Maybe they’ve just been reassigned to a different team? When a person’s presence, absence, or priorities gets in the way of finishing a project, you’re dealing with a people blocker.
  • Dependency blockers: Some tasks depend on other tasks before they can be completed. These are called dependencies. A dependency becomes a project blocker when it stops the whole project from moving forward.
  • Feedback loop blockers: Important projects can depend on feedback from multiple stakeholders. Sometimes, that can slow things down. Other times, it can completely block a project from moving forward.
  • Communication blockers: Clear communication is key to any project. When essential information is misunderstood — or worse, completely missed — your project can get in trouble.
  • Technical blockers: If a project needs a specific technical skill or expertise to be completed, an absence of either can end up blocking it.

Now that you have a better understanding of these blockers, let’s go over some of the ways you can keep them from tripping you up.

Use a work management tool to anticipate blockers

Whether teams work together or are scattered in different locations and time zones, communication issues can obscure potential obstacles. Customizable, easy-to-use work tracking software will prevent your teams from getting caught unawares. These tools give your teams the ability to see each other’s progress and easily stay informed on any updates, issues, or blockers. Tracking features also give you a way to follow a potential blocker back to its source. You’ll be able to see which employees worked on the relevant tasks, when they were worked on, 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 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.

With the right tools, you can automate any aspect of your project. Reporting, an essential aspect of any project, can be automated with reporting and data tools, as well as workflow automation tools. And that’s just one way you can automate your projects.

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. Booking a meeting any time you need updates about a specific project can slow everybody down. With asynchronous communication — whether that’s through your project management tool of choice or a chat app — you can send questions whenever they come to you, knowing you’ll get an answer. Asynchronous communication is also easier to track. With a history of back-and-forth communication, it’s easier to point someone to past updates. Otherwise you’d have to repeat yourself.

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 environment 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.

Ready to crush those blockers?

With a team coordination workflow powered by Unito, your teams can get more done and stop feeling stuck.

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