Project management…is it a poison chalice or an essential function of any job, irrespective of role or industry?
We here at Gecko project manage on a daily basis intuitively; prioritising workload, creating schedules, communicating with our peers – planning when to take the dog for a walk. Everything we do involves project management to some degree. So why do we panic when we are required to work on a project which needs ‘official’ project management?
Inevitably it means the informal project management style successfully utilised on a daily basis needs formalising.
So, here are some quick tips!
Establish who the key stakeholders are from the get-go. Consider who’s instrumental to the project success and include them on the team. Don’t be afraid to include external stakeholders – the more people feel involved and influential, the greater the buy-in!
Get them down in writing, agree them and share them.
Describe ultimate success. Don’t forget to include the why – it will help focus the team during the difficult periods.
If there’s a budget – include it as a goal and ensure there are sufficient channels to update regularly.
Create a timeline – but not in isolation. Work with stakeholders on the timeline and don’t worry if it never truly gets locked down.
Roles and responsibilities
Assign a Project manager to communicate, communicate, communicate. With multi-location stakeholders, it’s a challenge but a good Project manager will facilitate group thinking. Silo decisions must be communicated to the wider group as knock-on effects cannot be predicted without broader stakeholder consideration – this is where a good project manager can really support the process.
A Project Manager is not a panacea – ultimate success is not wholly the Project managers remit, but they roll with the punches and seek out next steps.
Project Managers facilitate, co-ordinate, update and communicate.
Ensure there is a Sponsor. A Senior stakeholder who, when the group go off-piste, has the authority and experience to bring it back on track – to make decisions others don’t feel confident to make. There will be times when the team need motivating and a strong Sponsor will know when to step in.
Meetings, conference calls, spreadsheets, e-mail, Skype – don’t hold back!
Technology is your friend – there’s no excuse!
Finally – don’t sweat the small stuff…
It’s intuitive to build contingency plans at the start of a project – factoring in a degree of slippage makes good sense – but don’t ponder on the ‘what if’s’ too long as it can become a blocker.
Successful Project Management encourages a degree of organic development for the greater good and it’s exciting to see where creative development can lead. If there are concerns about the looming deadline, consider where you are in the process, draw a line under it and revise your goals and schedules.
A project may be re-defined or even abandoned – to use an analogy, as long as everyone is on board throughout the journey, they will all alight at the same destination knowing that the very best result was achieved.
Sue – Account Director