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Anyone who has ever worked with a team of people trying to solve a complex problem understands the difficulties in using current project management software.

Existing software typically fall into one of two major categories: Gantt-oriented programs, which are cumbersome on projects where the roadmap is simply not known, and Agile-oriented products, which require training.

Regardless of the software a team uses to plan and manage a complex problem-solving project, here are five recommendations to help organizations which are using teams to solve hard problems.

1.    Use a web-based tool that provides a framework within which to track key project metrics.

Solving your complex problem is a project. Projects have money, risks, issues, people and activities, which must be identified and managed. Communication will be key and using a web-based tool allows people to keep up with the project on their time.

2.    Separate out the activities that should be identified, budgeted and managed from the little tasks that must simply be done. 

Otherwise, your team will get stuck in the weeds. Understand which deadlines are critical.

3.    Meet frequently to identify recent accomplishments, commit to next steps and document problems.  

Daily standing meetings can help hold team members accountable for their actions. They should be very quick. They are not the place for solving problems, merely a way to help encourage a culture of honesty.

4.    Understand what you are trying to accomplish, how and why.

Unclear project requirements contribute heavily to project failures.  Understanding the how means understanding the major activities that are required in the project, and what completion looks like for each of these activities. Getting project teams committed is easier when they understand why the project is being done.

Getting project teams committed is easier when they understand why the project is being done. Click To Tweet

5.    Organize the challenge of solving your complex problem as you would organize a well-run project. 

Stakeholders with differing perspectives are likely one of your biggest problems. Identify, understand and document those perspectives so that everyone is playing on the same field.

Good luck with your complex problems. Take a deep breath, listen, work, assess, and communicate.

Photo Credit: Busyness by Florian Groß;; CC BY 2.0 License