“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”
Mario Andretti - Formula One driver
Organization is one of the most basic of human traits. As a species we are unable to deal with unstructured or chaotic data, environments or situations. We always seek to organize before engaging in the process of action or assimilation. Yes, this also applies to Bob 4 cubes down whose workspace resembles a Jackson Pollock painting. Even to Bob there exists an order to his disorder.
It’s no secret that organization is critical to effective project management. The complexities involved in a given project, the many variables that need to be accounted for and the management of a diverse team of individuals requires the project manager to be properly organized, able to move quickly and ready to deal with the unexpected.
Fortunately, maintaining proper organization isn’t the P.I.T.A. that it’s made out to be. In fact it’s your friend. Let’s take a look at a few principals that make organization easy.
- Leverage Technology. We exist in a world of rapid technological advancements and tools for project management have benefitted as a result. The first order of business is identifying the best tool for your particular situation. Are you looking for pure task management? If so, have you considered how you will report on your efforts via reports and dashboards? Do you need to be able to collaborate with people remotely? In that case, a cloud-based solution would be best. Sensitivity analysis, time tracking, budgets… You get the picture. Fortunately there are a number of extremely powerful tools in the market today that are very inexpensive to license and use, such as our platform Viewpath. It takes some research, but identifying the proper technology solution is critical. The days of spreadsheets, post-it notes and white boards have been relegated to the past. Take advantage of the tools available and you’ll find your life and your projects run much smoother.
- Maintain Consistent Communication. Consider technology to be a car. No matter how advanced or sexy it is it will not replace you as the driver. In the case of project management, making sure your “car” is headed in the right direction and at the appropriate speed requires consistent communication between the project manager, his/her teams, vendors and most importantly the client. Regularly scheduled project review and update meetings help everyone stay within the sightlines of the project and allow honest discussions to take place to make sure the project arrives at its intended destination. One thing to keep in mind however. A single, consistent weekly meeting is only the start. Check-ins, quick in-person updates, etc. are all part of a proper plan of communication. Learn it. Love it. Live it.
- Focus On Results. “It’s not the destination but the journey”, said no project manager ever. An occupational hazard of project management is that at the end of the day we are judged on results. How quickly we achieved those results, were they successful and what was the financial cost. This does not suggest we take a “win at all costs” approach to project management, as that is a self-defeating proposition. What I mean is that we leverage technology and communication to ensure we are able to deliver the project on time and on budget. We eschew the status quo and demand results from our team, our vendors and ourselves. Everyone should know what the end goal is and have embraced it.
- Practice Accountability. Finally, everyone involved needs to be accountable. There’s no question that at the end of the day the project manager is ultimately accountable for project delivery. But in order to ensure success, the concept of accountability must exist throughout the team, the organization and yes with the clients themselves. This isn’t easy. It takes discipline and can be uncomfortable at times, but if you’re going to sit in the big chair, accountability is required.
Trust me, I get it. Project management isn’t easy. It takes dedication, attention to detail, communication and flexibility – that’s the nature of project management. By being organized and practicing the concepts I note above, you stand a much better chance of project success.