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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2008

How to Make the Most of Each Minute

Efficient managerial techniques often boost productivity when it’s most needed

We’ve all heard the saying “time is money.” But can an intangible object like time really impact your company’s bottom line?

Time-estimation is an essential skill for good project management. Further, it is critical to get time estimates to complete projects within or under budget. Whether you are managing a team in your mortgage office or trying to maximize your own time, the following tips can help you succeed in the increasingly competitive mortgage industry.

Watch the clock

As a leader in your company, it is imperative that you provide your team and your clients with well-researched schedules and deadlines. It helps staff members aim for something when completing their tasks, and it also affects people’s assessments of your reliability.

If you provide an estimate or a deadline and miss it repeatedly, your rating will go down in their books.

Though most people know that time estimates determine a project’s price and profitability, many of us still often underestimate the amount of time needed to implement projects, especially when we are unfamiliar with  the assignments.

Drill down

Time estimates can seem overwhelming, but drilling down your tasks can help simplify the process and reduce your stress level.

Your first step is to list all the tasks for a certain project. To the right of that list, jot down additional information about these tasks, such as problems that may arise or unanswered questions about the tasks.

Repeat this process with additional lists until you’ve broken everything down to the most minor detail.

You’ll find information that you may not have originally considered. Also, your team will have the time to seek the additional information to resolve any problems or answer questions.

Consider this example: A mortgage-company owner is losing money because of conflicting promotions the sales team and customer-service departments are offering. Here is how that owner can drill down the process to resolve this problem:

  • Interview the finance team about the source of losses and customer-service and sales representatives about daily routines.
  • Talk to the production team about overproduction; discuss connection of promotions to profits in-depth.
  • Increase communication from the production team and between customer service and sales.
  • Institute status meetings between the customer-service, sales and production teams to discuss anticipated needs; move sales and customer-service departments to the same floor for increased teamwork.

By drilling down, you can break down complex issues into smaller tasks. This helps you account for everything.

Be detailed

Once you have a detailed list of all the tasks you must achieve, make an educated guess about how long it will take to complete each task. Include as many possibilities as you can think of in your estimate, such as detailed project-planning, meeting with additional departments, and producing and distributing any necessary supporting documentation.

Also consider unplanned derailments, such as holidays and sickness of key staff, other high-urgency tasks, internal meetings, and interruptions and changes in loan programs.

These factors can double or triple the amount of time needed to complete a task. If possible, base your estimates on past experiences.

If you apply these lessons in your daily planning, you will find things moving smoothly and more cost-efficiently. Even better, you’ll be seen as someone who can be counted on to deliver projects on time and on budget.


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