If you told a traditional project manager that they’d be running a project where the requirements amounted to a statement of, “I want a website to sell widgets to anonymous customers via the Internet.” They’d probably head for the hills. However, in Agile development, high level statements like this or user stories are the key[…]
Routine can save your sanity when managing projects. I’m not saying that projects are routine, not by any stretch of the imagination. Projects are full of twists, turns and unexpected surprises that draw on your reserves of energy and sap your stamina. You may be travelling one direction with full momentum when a risk trigger forces you to turn on a dime to address it. No, projects are not routine. That is why it is important to implement routine wherever possible.
A routine can be as simple as the sequence of steps you take to address your email each day. It doesn’t matter if you tackle them all in the morning chronologically or if you group them by sender before an afternoon of responses. What is important is that you approach it consistently. Do it the same way at the same time each day. Then it becomes automatic, something you don’t have to expend energy reminding yourself about.
During the lifecycle of a project it is vital that team members and stakeholders have a clear path of communications. If communication paths are not kept in check they will rapidly grow out of control. The communication plan spells out communication paths, appropriate mediums for communication and appropriate intervals for communications.
The project manager must make sure during the construction of the communication plan that all communication needs are taken into account. What will the stakeholders require on an ongoing basis? What information will they need to be comfortable about the progress of the project? How frequently will they need updates on status, risk management, forecast completion, etc.? Defining these types of communication will reduce the amount of ad hoc communication necessary once project execution begins.
If you don’t clearly communicate your expectations to your project team and stakeholders you will never have those expectations met. You must define standards for communication and performance and let your team know as early as possible what those expectations are. You must state your expectations to stakeholders explicitly and hold them accountable to those expectations.
In the absence of clear expectations teams and stakeholders will make assumptions about how they are to proceed. You, the project manager, must then compensate for any incorrect or conflicting assumptions which dilutes your effectiveness in managing the project.
Before I started using checklists I thought I had things well in hand. I knew my processes. I knew what steps needed to happen and when they needed to occur. I knew which people I needed to contact in any given scenario and could rattle off their names at the drop of a hat. I had everything under control and life was good.
So I thought…