When we set out to write this article, it was originally going to be a list of the top 10 Resources for Project Managers. As we started to do the research we realized the question of, “What is a great resource?” Can only be determined by first asking, “What is the problem this resource solves?” Without that answer would be like baking a cake with no idea who was interested in eating it. Imagine a bundt cake for a wedding, or a wedding cake at a children’s birthday. No matter how much we all like cake, it’s better if it’s the right cake, for the right time.
Before we get embroiled in the whole “let them eat cake” debacle, let’s refocus.
What are the Top Issues Project Managers face in their day to day work?
(In no particular order)
The single most important project management skill is communication. In order to keep focus, control and direction, there need to be regular, clear communication. Each team member needs to know what is expected of them. It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to provide that information at each key step of the project. Project managers having difficulty with this should focus on developing their written and oral communication skills. Timely communication maintains the morale of the team by providing feedback between upper management and team leaders. Important meetings and events should be scheduled in advances to keep everyone on the same page.
Unclear goals are the death of many project. If a goal isn’t clearly identified, it is impossible for the team to meet them. Any project has little chance of success unless the project manager asks the right questions and establishes a clear, documented set of goals from the beginning. Scope Creep sounds like someone has a serious fixation for mouthwash. But in reality this occurs when the PM allows customers and management to ask for changes to the project. It always starts small, but if the project manager doesn’t properly evaluate each request or use a change control board, the result can be disastrous. Think of all those weekend Honey-Do’s. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know, BOOM – BYE- BYE Weekend.
Defining a budget is frequently referred to as an “art form”. If that’s true it’s definitely a Jackson Pollock. When you let your projects’ budget start with unrealistic expectations, calamity is sure to follow. Too many project budgets are determined by the “This is how much we can budget for the project.” approach vs.”How much will this project cost? Bottom-up estimating, is the safest way to set a realistic budget. The project will cost what the project will cost. Proper Budgeting makes sure you have the money to complete it.
Successful PMs know that asking the team to meet impossible deadlines results in three things; missed deadlines, poor morale and poor quality. Missing deadlines and milestones aggravation on the part of your customer. You are better off fighting the good fight upfront, instead of avoiding it.
In order for a project to be run effectively, management must provide the necessary resources. Resources are not money! Resources are people and tools. Not enough hammers, makes the number of carpenters irrelevant, and so-forth. Project managers need to know how to define the resource needs and secure them upfront. This makes sure the pm can properly assign and prioritize tasks throughout the project.
Changes are neither good, nor bad. They simply need to be managed. The number of changes on a project is a distant second to the way in which changes are managed. It’s better to jump out of an airplane with a parachute, than to find yourself flying blind, without navigation, or instrumentation to correct your course.
Delegation & Micro Management
It’s very easy for a project manager to be so concerned with the outcome, that they don’t delegate enough. On the other hand, too much delegation can have the PM, standing around, babysitting the project team, instead of allowing them the freedom to work. Teams should be encouraged to vocalize issues or delays without fear of the PM. There is no one-size fits all approach to Project Management.