Within the world of Project Management we tend to think we have it covered. Yet when the tire proverbially hits the tar, there are always a few things from the woodwork that we did not think of. It tends to be more complicated and more intricate than what we realised at first and therefore my objective with this article is to shed some light on the things I have learned that just happens to be important.
The first thing you need to realise as a project manager is that you are not always welcome. Yes that is correct, there is always some resentment at the beginning as there are a few mindsets that needs to shift. One of the first that come to mind is that of the techies that think they are better equipped to also manage their project. Now some do have the skills, but if you are honest with yourself you cannot be the gate keeper and the one delivering the goods. The second is that of the client that see you in the way of what they want. Their objective is to get as much work done for as little pay and if they want to change their mind mid-way, they will do so and you are in the way of that objective. Then there is a mindset called the boss syndrome. Here we deal with resource managers, sponsors and owners that own the work and the resources needed to get it done. If they have a different task in mind, who are you to tell them differently. I am sure there are a few other mindsets that you might think of that fits the bill. So don’t expect to be valued, but show your worth. They will thank you for it later.
The second lessons that I learned was that administration suck, but is so necessary. Yes those time consuming tasks of going through minutes to ensure it is representative of what was said, ensuring scope documentation is aligned to contracts as signed off, change requests etc. Those things that we think we can do without because the project is in such a good place can be a saving grace on the day the project turns. Evidence of the paths taken and the picnic stops helps provided a map of the journey taken and can help your team and you towards auditable justification.
The third lesson I learned was to never underestimate personalities. Politics and character differences are often things that nobody talks about, but can lead to stormy encounters in safe coves. They need to be dealt with diplomatically, effectively and their effects neutralised before the damage to team and project are done. These stormy encounters can lead up the food chain pretty quick and defocus the team and steal the show.
Plan and measure. It sounds like a cliché but there is never enough time put into planning and never enough time thinking about how you get measured. Yes and I do understand that sometimes you cannot plan in detail, but even the basics of planning aren’t always done. This also implies planning for measuring. Knowing your customer and establish measurement criteria that talks to what is important for him/her is important.
The last thing that you need to take note of is balance. It is such a simple word for a world full of unhappiness. Nothing in your project is worth the sacrifice of a marriage, or time lost with loved ones during their last days, health, being there for children and good conversations. If you want your project to succeed you need to know when to burn the candle and when to let it go. There is no retry on lost time and no remedy for regrets.
There are probably a few more things that you need to know, but these provided clear guidelines for me in my journey as a project manager and consultant. I have seen many unnecessary turmoil around these that could have been better handled if we just knew these five simple things.
Author: Lizette Venter
Date: August 2018