This is the third post in a monthly series dedicated to preparing your business for the upcoming economic recovery.
We all have them. Many times, they sit in stacks of papers in our office, the â€œsomeday I will get to that pile.â€ Not addressing this pile of projects before business growth is like trying to run a marathon with an extra 40 pounds on your hips, knees and ankles â€“ it can be done but it takes longer and it hurts a lot more. Everyone has their own system but for me, I like to follow the 4Dâ€™s approach:
Do It! These are the projects that support strategic objectives, have high payback and cannot be delayed. They were a great idea before the recession and they are an even better idea now.
Delegate It! Do you have employees looking for more challenging assignments? During a recession when money is tight, performance development projects without restrictive schedules can be delegated to employees who are trying to develop new skills. In a tight market, if you cannot offer raises or other financial incentives, providing employees with enhanced duties and opportunities to develop new skills helps foster positive morale.
Consider smartsourcing the work to a freelancer. Besides the traditional online jobbers such as Monster.com or Hotjobs.com, check out Craigslist.com, elance.com, guru.com or odesk.com as terrific resources to locate highly credentialed professionals. Ask for referrals on your social networks such as LinkedIn. There are many unemployed or underemployed professionals on the market willing to freelance while between jobs. If the projects require administrative or computer skills, you can use web-based productivity tools such as Google Docs or Zoho for virtual collaboration.
Dump It! In my experience, at least 50% of the projects in the â€œsomedayâ€ pile should simply be dumped. If you havenâ€™t made it a priority by now, what has changed? Why wasnâ€™t it critical enough to rise to the level of importance before? Was it lack of staff? If so, why didnâ€™t you outsource the work while the business was stronger and money available? Was it because no one can do it like you? I hope not â€“ those kinds of projects will kill your business whether we are in a recession or on the upswing.
Delay It! These are great ideas that have positive impact on the business but are not as high a priority as â€œDo It Nowâ€ items. They are not essential enough to pay someone else to do (or they are difficult to delegate or outsource) but they are worth getting done. For example, you may have a list of blog changes you want to make but they donâ€™t raise to the level of critical enough to hire a webmaster to complete. Avoid putting everything you cannot do immediately into the Delay It category â€“ you will simply end up right where you started with a big pile of unfinished projects. If you designate a project for delay, be sure to put these projects on your plan and schedule time to accomplish them within a short period of time. Any project that continues to miss its planned start and finish over and over again must be questioned as a possible â€œDump Itâ€ project.
Please schedule regular reviews on a monthly or quarterly basis â€“ mark it on your calendar. Use the opportunity of a business downturn to establish the practices and disciplines that keep you organized and focused upon profitable activities and projects.