I’m now into my third week as a Project Manager. Prior to this I was a software consultant and team lead, a role which encompassed a lot of the skills and requirements of a project manager without exclusively being one. As a result, I’ve gained the core skills that allowed me to take this position without really being aware of them, or taking the time to understand them. So much of this job appears to be what I would’ve historically referred to as “soft skills” — the kind you can’t pick up from reading a book or watching a YouTube video. So now that I’m here, I’m starting to wonder what this role actually requires, what skills I have or will need to acquire to make this a success.
The past two weeks have seen a lot of reading, research and studying, because I’m the kind of person that wants to know everything. It didn’t take long though before I started to see a pattern. The project management ecosystem is dated. As an industry, it’s heavily focused on construction and the public sector, and you can’t go five minutes in a book or podcast before someone tells you that they know how to stop projects failing (because they all do, apparently).
But I don’t think this is necessarily true when you focus in on software project management. Of course, there are still the huge multi-million pound digital projects that run years over schedule and cost many more millions, but on the whole the vast majority of software either; a) hits their deadline, or b) doesn’t have a traditional deadline to miss. It’s these kinds of projects that I’ve had experience of over the past six years, and they raise a different set of questions than so much of the existing material provides answers for.
What you’re reading here is my school workbook. Project Management Retrospective is exactly that, a retrospective on my learning and experiences in a project management role at a software company in the twenty-first century. I’ll take into account the traditional advice of people like Andrew Grove and Fergus O’Connell, I’ll explore what other PMs in similar situations are experiencing and I’ll share my own experiments and thoughts too. Some of it will work perfectly, a lot of it will fail, but all of it will improve me and my abilities, and therefore hopefully benefit you too.
Welcome to Project Management Retrospective.