What's your organization's project management practice like? How is it structured? What does the leadership hierarchy look like? Is it functional or in the way? Do you manage in a matrix organization? Are you operating out of a project management office (PMO)? If you are, then you are likely finding yourself managing many projects through a full-featured project management software tool and many different team members on each project. Sure, there may be some overlap on the project resources, but you still may be managing five different projects at one time and twenty or more different resources on those projects. Then figure in any third party vendors, equipment, etc., plus the fact that those projects may all add up to a multi-million dollar portfolio of projects under your guidance all at once. As you can see, the numbers and the responsibility can be a little intimidating, if not downright overwhelming.
Project managers are looked to as very organized, controlled individuals who can make good decisions on the fly that are in line with the project and organizational goals. And don’t forget about communication – we can keep everyone well informed at all times with our up-to-date project schedule, right? Yet, still a little overwhelming…even if we do manage to keep it all together.
It can be difficult though, to keep track of the details on each of our projects. The best-case scenario sees you forgetting a critical detail in a status meeting causing some silence on the other end of the phone (where the customer is). The worst-case scenario sees you reciting details and financial information from the wrong project to the wrong customer. How would you feel if that was your doctor doing that to you? Not too confident, right? Same goes for project customers who have placed a lot of their time and money resources in our care to hopefully successfully run a project for them. We really start to lose them when it appears that their project is less than of utmost importance to us.
So, how do we keep it all straight? How do we keep from disclosing the wrong information to the wrong client? How do we keep track of all the assignments we’ve given our team members and the status updates on everything going on for each of our projects?
Keep it all in line
First, we start with a good project management software tool. A collaborative tool would be best – one that will allow us to manage our project schedule, resources, and all the financial data contained within while also allowing us to interact with our team members and set expectations for them to manage their tasks within the schedule as well.
Second, we stick to a regular meeting schedule with our team and our customer. If we move meetings around, it becomes harder to keep track of each schedule for each individual project. Plus, customers and team members like consistency. Meeting participation levels will be at their highest when held regularly – and on time and kept to a proper length.
Finally, status report horizontally to the team and the client and vertically to your senior management. Having the built-in accountability is always a good thing and it keeps everyone informed. It helps ensure that you’re not just storing the critical project information in your head, too – which is a certain recipe for disaster.
Summary / call for input
The bottom line – in order to stay the course, make logical good decisions and good moves, and to keep the details organized we need to stick to our project management best practices. Those tried and true smart moves that we try to repeat for project success.
How about our readers...what keeps your projects organized and intact? What keeps you on top of the project details?