There has never been a better time for me to take a Project Management course than right now. I recently moved into a senior management role for the only separate business unit within my company, Critical Products and Services. It took just a few days for the honeymoon period to be over and for the issues to become apparent. Many of the core issues boil down to improper or nonexistent project management and my hope with this post is that some of you may learn from our, and my, mistakes.
Proper Project Management needs a proper Project Manager. Most of the projects that existed within the business unit exhibited a “laissez faire” project management style, which is a nice way of saying none at all. Everyone on every project was the PM for their own contribution. We had dozens of “Chiefs” and zero “Indians”. This style can occasionally work on minor projects when everything’s running smoothly, but when it hits the fan all hell breaks loose. Nobody, even the perfect PM, “wants” to deal with the tough problems, or ask the tough questions, and if a go-to PM that’s accountable for the project doesn’t exist, no one will. If no one steps up the project fails, period. I learned quickly that every real project needs a clear leader, a clear communication path, and a clear route for dispute resolution.
Project Management needs to be standardized. We had 4 PMs in our unit using 3 different PM software platforms. In and of themselves these platforms can be very effective. When mixed together the result is a colorful pile of uselessness. The tools that are used by the PMs and by the teams need to work together seamlessly across the board, otherwise they will be completely ignored and the time spent putting together the project plan was more or less wasted. Team members neither have the time nor the desire to learn multiple platforms and if a PM is on vacation or traveling good luck finding someone willing to help out in a different software platform while working on their own projects. Last week we started the implementation of cloud based “teamwork” platform Asana. The platform is simple and easy to learn but more importantly it’s able to integrate with all types of helpful tools like Instagantt, Google Drive, and Salesforce ultimately making it seem like an effective online solution to our PM standardization issues. I guess time will tell but at least we’re moving in the right direction.
Last, but certainly not least, Project Management is incredibly difficult. It takes a certain type of person with thick skin and incredible willpower; great PMs are very rare. I know am not a great PM, but I hope to be one day. It takes an amazing amount of patience (you guys know that’s not my strongpoint 🙂 ) and attention to detail to coordinate a difficult project. Know yourself, know your team, and use each member efficiently and effectively. Most importantly, never stop communicating with each other.
The exciting nightmare that has been my life for the past 8 weeks.