As project managers, we can't ever afford to rest on our laurels. It's not as if we really ever get any laurels, but that's probably fodder for another article. In the world of project management, you’re really only as good as your last project…or at least your last few projects.
As the project manager, you’re in charge, you’re the point person and everyone on both sides of the project is looking to you as the primary information flow.
How you perform in this role and how you succeed in keeping everyone well organized and well informed not only speaks volumes about your ability to perform under pressure but also defines how key you are to your organization’s plans going forward.
The Disorganized PM
If you fall in the disorganized category, then you’re not likely to last very long as a PM anyway. The disorganized PM has trouble with the following:
- Timely response to customer questions and issues
- On time delivery of status reports and project schedule updates
- Keeping the delivery team up to date on status, expectations and resource forecasts
- Leading regular project status meetings
These tasks are critical to success, critical to just about every facet of an engagement. If not performed well and in a timely fashion, then the project will undoubtedly suffer and possibly fail.
The Organized PM
The reputation of the project manager truly is fragile. Even if you do your job impeccably well, there’s always that chance that you just won’t ‘click’ with the customer and the customer may ask for someone else to perform in this role. Difficult customers abound, and you never know when you’re going to run up against one. Therefore, it’s important to always, always do the following:
- Keep your team informed
- Keep the customer informed
- Manage a well-defined project schedule
- Ensure that the customer has all weekly documents in a timely fashion
- Track all deliverables and help ensure as many milestones as possible are met
- Manage the budget well and keep everyone informed of budget status and potential problems
- Track all issues and risks and keep them constantly reviewed and in front of personnel on both sides of the project
The bottom line is – leadership is key. Leadership, integrity, promises kept and delivered upon….all of these go into building and maintaining your reputation. As the project manager, we don’t always have direct authority over our resources – they’re borrowed for the most part. But we do have direct authority over what we do with the resources and responsibilities that we’ve been given. When issues arise, communicate and reach out to resolve. Ensure that everyone on both sides of the project know that you know you own it and are steering the ship.
Summary / call for input
The project manager can’t ensure that they’ll be loved by everyone – nor do they want to be. They aspire to be well respected by the customer, but even that can’t always be guaranteed no matter how well they perform and manage the project. But, the project manager can ensure that everything that is expected of them is being performed well and if that doesn’t always do it for the customer at least it should be noticed by the delivery organization.
Readers – what are your thoughts on this topic? What charcteristics and challenges would you add to these lists? What experiences can you share and discuss?