Photo by Matt Duncan
Photo by Matt Duncan
Reasons why you cannot do without project management and specific things you can do that will help you become a decent project manager or inspire someone in your team to take the lead.
Without project management we’re destined to fail. Our projects will derail and they won’t be delivered on time.
This all will affect our company’s revenues.
Without project management we’re running blind.
Mixing up project steps will cause unnecessary work to take place and our team to burnout.
Can’t teams “do it themselves”?
—No, they can’t. They shouldn’t.
Someone may argue that small projects don’t require project management. However, if you add enough of these “small” projects together, soon enough you’ll end up managing frustrations rather than what should have been a simple project.
A team running without a project leader (in this case, a project manager) will be more keen to disagree. Everyone will make decisions and absolutely no one will take the responsibility for the outcome.
Your team and projects deserve more than just a brief.
Everyone is a project manager
Luckily, there’s a bright side.
Even if your title or job description don’t have “project manager” in it, chances are you’ve done some of it already.
Truth is that you have managed projects since early school days.
From homework to group projects. You managed to learn what was asked from you, when the homework was due, and what resources (time, people) you had on hand.
These might not have been structured enough to give yourself the title “project manager”, but similar activities are pretty much the basics of project management.
And now at home. We do it constantly with our little improvements.
So why can’t we do it at our job?
It’s not actually that hard once you know the actual structure of project management.
We can’t stress enough that without project management even the smallest of activities will not be achieved. Including this very article.
While Wikipedia has an extensive explanation on what project management is, we’ll stick to our simple format which is a good fit for fast-paced agile teams of all kinds.
Here at Claritask we divide each project in 5 steps.
Once we have filtered through all information in Step 1, we evaluate each part and try to break it down for production. We may decide some parts of the projects must be outsourced, while some other ones will take longer and cost more. This is the stage where every bit of the project needs to make sense before it hits production.
Depending on the size and scope of the project, we plan each part (in days, weeks, months, quarters, or years) depending on the perceived length of the project. Some parts may be executed in tandem. The point is to foresee in as much detail as possible how each part of the project will tie in together at the end.
Process — the actual doing
After we have our planning all scoped out in a realistic calendar view, we then start the execution process. In this stage we must be clear about the approach and communicate this to our production team as well as to outside stakeholders, so there’s less surprises along the way.
The final step in production needs to meet all expectations. Remember: —“Perfect is the enemy of Good!”. Exceeding expectations is fine if an opportunity shows itself. However, don’t run yourself and your team thin to impress to the detriment of time and scope.
Even though not an actual step in our project management process, “Feedback” is an important part of any project as it notifies everyone involved about the quality of the work delivered. If there are concerns (which should have been communicated all along), the project (or parts of it) may need to go back to production.
Some steps intertwine with one another. Once you’re in the “Process” stage there’s no looking back. However, if the scope changes, you need to re-access your schedule and deliverables, and communicate these changes with all parties involved.
Knowing now how important project management is, we can talk a bit about how we (or someone in our team) can manage a project starting today.
Yes, having proper training is naturally beneficial. However, in our fast paced world, a great opportunity may knock on our door and we don’t have the immediate luxury to hire someone with the credentials right away.
The truth is that each project should have its own project manager, but that’s not always a realistic possibility.
Even though most companies run without a proper project manager, it’s no excuse that someone from your team cannot lend a helping hand with managing your projects.
And if up to now you have been managing each project on your own, without a team leader on each project you are running the risk of burning out.
There’s a better way.
While you can still continue to act as a project manager, you can start delegating bits and pieces to someone who will act as a team leader in each one of your projects.
This person can still remain in production, however they’ll have the extra responsibility to report back to you and deal with project details in your high level tasks.
A perfect fit for this position is someone with the talent and sense to manage resources. Here’s a whole article we wrote on what Project Resource Management is.
Specifically speaking, you will create high level tasks for each specific project and give your team leaders the freedom and responsibility to assign detailed minutiae to their team as they see fit. Also, they must have the liberty to shuffle people around from other projects.
In Claritask, each task has their detailed history about each activity by everyone in your company. As you assign high level tasks, you can monitor and track their progress without bothering your team.
And as your team leaders deliver more projects, they’ll be on their way to becoming a good project manager.
In this video below, we explain one way on how you can manage high-level tasks while giving your team leader more responsibility and freedom to deal with day-to-day tasks.
The key reason why project management is crucial is because it strengthens the communication between everyone involved, thus ensuring:
A good project manager asks the right questions with the goal to move things forward, has the audacity to cut out things midway, communicate clearly with all, inspire, and ultimately deliver on time.
Project management is a proactive process where problems are anticipated and dealt with before they surface, while a reactive process (one without project management) deals with problems as they arise thus risking everything and everyone involved.
As Benjamin Franklin notoriously said — “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
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