8 Ways to Eliminate Paralysis by Analysis

by Jennfer Bridges, PMP

Have you ever been ready to execute your project and you just can’t seem to get your team going? Here are eight tips to alleviate analysis paralysis and get things done:


#1: Have Inputs in Place Prior to the Executing Phase

People need information in order to accomplish their tasks and deliverables  It’s very important to have that information coming in during the executing and controlling phases. Anticipate what your team member’s needs are and have that information ready and waiting for them when they need it to move forward during their phase of the project. We may sometimes feel that we’ll get everyone the information in a “just-in-time” manner. Resist this urge and have what they need well in advance.


#2: Go!

The plan has been designed, communicated to everyone, and is ready to be implemented, so just go! Changes will happen. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s important just to begin executing. I have a mentor who says, “Version one is better than version none.” So get going, and make changes along the way. Agile project management methodologies embrace the fact that everything will not be perfect out of the gate. If concern over change is an excuse for not moving forward, consider using an agile methodology such as scrum.


#3: Communicate in a Timely Manner and at the Appropriate Level

When people have to wait for information they need, their progress is halted. When an executive is bombarded with detailed information they don’t need, their time is wasted sifting through it to find what they do need. Likewise, the people who need the detail (such as a technical team) but receive high level information may not know what to do with it. Manage communications thoughtfully. Always be mindful of your audience and tailor your information accordingly.


#4: Meet on a Regular Basis

Don’t buy into the myth that meetings don’t need to happen. That frustrates the people who really do need to meet in order to collaborate, whether online or in person. Regularly meeting to share information, status and exceptions gets things moving. The myth that can be busted is that meetings need to be LONG in order to get something done. It’s up to you as a project manager to keep your meetings focused, to the point, action driven, and short.


#5: Get Accurate Status Reports

Status reports are not just administrivia, although they are seen as such. It should not be acceptable for team members to be careless in what they report.  It’s very important that status reports be accurate and real-time, because people actually use that information to assess actions they need to take. Here’s something you can do to see how much people are using your reports to make their decisions. Stop doing them for a week or two! You’ll quickly hear from those who base their decisions upon information you are providing. Give them exactly what they need to make a good, quick decision and then move on to the next issue at hand.


#6: Obtain Project Approval from the Change Control Board

It’s very important that changes and decisions come from the change control board – the stakeholders authorized to make those decisions. This includes approvals needed for other organizations, whether they are inside or outside of the project team. Do you want to make this process even faster in order to make decisions expeditiously? Obtain approval to make decisions up to a certain dollar amount. For example, anything that is under $500 can be approved by project manager. The approval amount depends upon the size of the organization and the type of project, but this will really help move things along.


#7: Address Issues, Risks, and Changes Quickly

Don’t just record these things on a log and track them. Get them handled. Unresolved issues often prevent people from being able to do what they need to do in order to get their piece of the project done. Keep an ongoing log of issues (spreadsheets and other project management software programs work great for this type of tracking) and continue to chisel away at them until they are all resolved.


#8: Manage Your Triple Constraint

Accept the fact that things will change, and balance the triple constraint to keep the project on track.


These are eight tips that will help you alleviate analysis paralysis and get things done. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking all the analysis that is being conducted is productive. However, you will quickly find that your first, initial gut reaction or decision to make was the right way to go! Apply the 8 suggestions above and you’ll make better decisions faster.


If you found these tips from Jennifer Bridges, PMP (formerly, Jennifer Whitt) of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.


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