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Break Information Bottlenecks

Doug Hole- Site Manager

When information is shared through specific people, there is a danger that someone in the chain can be an information bottleneck. If they don't have a strong grip on their organisation skills, are too busy with other tasks or become overwhelmed by the amount of information/number of people they need to update, then they can stop the flow of information running smoothly.

Accepting there is an information bottleneck

Sometimes information bottlenecks are unavoidable, as people don't have an unlimited capacity to multitask. When managers have to be on top of a fast flowing project, the sheer volume of information to share become impossible for individuals to manage alone, resulting in a bottleneck. Recognising they are creating a barrier is a very difficult thing for people to accept, but a good manager will see that stepping back will actually give the project a much greater chance of success. For some employees, the idea of stepping back seems like a personal failing, resulting in them retreating further into the hole they've dug for themselves and exacerbating the information bottleneck.

    This creates a number of dangers for a company...
    1. Critical job management information is not shared
    2. Workflows are unpredictable and operate in bursts, instead of a smooth flow.
    3. Decision making is deferred or incorrect as people aren’t in possession of the information they need.

    Fixing the flow of information

    Managers need to retain control and oversight of all the project information, so taking work or responsibilities away isn't a helpful solution for this particular issue. What they need is something to do the heaving lifting and make the information instantly sharable, trackable and version controlled. With the wealth of digital solutions available to support this, combined with some proven business process management (BPM), there are a number of ways to get things back on track:

    • Implementing better quality management procedures, so that there’s less change of delays or reworking required when it gets to the part of the workflow that usually bottlenecks.
    • Enforce mandatory completions on tasks before the next list items can be started, to give real time status updates.
    • Ensure the rest of the team are aware of their own tasks and responsibilities within the programme, so the coordinator isn’t required to personally oversee every aspect of other people’s work.
    • Ensure there is a detailed workflow in place that means you can operate at full capacity on each stage of the process, so no part of the schedule is left idle.

    With these elements correctly in place, the pressure on a site manager to be central to every process becomes manageable and they are far less likely to inadvertently become a bottleneck to the project.

    With the information bottleneck broken, it's time to burst Doug's bubble!