by Frank Reinelt

Put your PM hat on

PM Pointers

Put your PM hat on
Put your PM hat on

For many years “project manager” was not an official title, but more of a role that many people “fell” into – essentially companies had projects, and someone had to manage them. Twenty years on and corporate structure had made this role into something far more formal - a proper title with a certified career path - leading to hundreds of thousands of qualified project managers. What we’re finding more recently however, is the return of project management to a place more reminiscent of its roots.

Here, current workplace trends, in particular collaboration and greater transparency, are forcing organisations to seek assistance from individuals who are not de facto project managers because, quite simply, there are not enough project managers to go around, and projects still need to be completed.

Hence, organisations are starting to train employees within human resources, legal, sales, marketing departments in project management too, allowing individual corporate disciplines to manage their own projects as needed.

What then should these “project managers" bear in mind for the successful completion of their projects? Well, it goes without saying that a back-to-basics approach is required for these project managers who may not have had the formal training we consider to be a requirement within the industry.

1. Get organised!

It is critical that all of the project’s deliverables are identified upfront and the team understands what is needed to reach a successful conclusion. This can be achieved by drawing up a project plan, complete with timings, that is then communicated to the entire team. With anytime access to this plan, priorities are highlighted, allowing others to see how their contributions fit into the bigger picture. A clear understanding of what needs to be done will also assist in assigning tasks to team members according to their strengths.

2. Allow for creative thinking

Creative genius doesn’t often strike after a long day’s work, so it is necessary to allocate regular time to get some head space. This could be done through browsing online, trying new experiences and thinking “out of the box”, as every successful and innovative project starts with a well-thought and insightful creative idea.

3. Become a people person

It has been proven time and again that good communication is important for effective project management. Teams need to prioritise regular meetings and feedback sessions.

4. Who’s in charge here?

Good leadership is another key consideration for effective project management, in order to keep the team motivated and inspire confidence. Aside from acknowledging when the team accomplishes something good and instilling a sense of purpose in their actions as part of the project lifecycle, the team leader also needs to be able to assign each task to the the most suitable team member.

This means that the team leader must understand the talents, strengths and weaknesses of each individual within their team. Failing to do this can lead to disastrous results as even the best of teams can run aground if the team leader fails to match up the tasks according to teammates’ strengths.

At the root of this shift back to traditional project management lies agile business principles, an approach that requires self-directed, self-organising teams that work together, with members taking on tasks that are best suited to their abilities (even if it means taking on the team leader role temporarily).

The agile method aims to provide relief by both sharing responsibilities and accountability should something go wrong, as well as fostering greater collaboration, ensuring that all team members remain informed and project data is organised.

Although agile business processes are causing different aspects of project management to shift away from the typical “command-and-control” approach, project managers should not shy away from this movement as it certainly does not advocate losing that official “project manager” designation. In fact, it hones the project management office (PMO) by filtering out smaller tasks and allowing official project managers to focus their experienced attention on the parts of the job that need it most.

By Frank Reinelt, senior director for Northern Europe & Emerging Markets at Mindjet



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Issue 29


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