Organisation and Stakeholder Management — life as a PM
Product Managers face many challenges on a daily basis. Organisational skills and management of stakeholders are by far one of the most difficult, yet one of the first sets of skills you need to hone in on.
One thing I commonly hear is : “I don’t know how you do it, with the amount of work you have” (spinning plates I like to call it, as many others do) the truth is, I can’t do everything and I make sure I keep communicating with key individuals for support.
If I am honest there is no major secret, no magic formula to make organising tasks easier, but their are tools. Below I will share with you how I manage workload and communication.
Firstly I prioritise my workload and make my self aware of the stakeholders I will need to work with. Product Managers work with everyone in a business but depending on projects and timelines they work closely with different departments at different times.
It is important you understand who needs to be involved in any decision making throughout different pieces of work.
I use good old fashion checklists to keep track of my low priority items, yes on pen and paper, even though I am trying to move to a more digital solution like Trello. For me there’s nothing that helps more than having a list of jobs to be done and in some cases when checking them off, re-writing some items that I have not yet got to. This also acts as a reminder for me.
For the tasks that sit around the middle priority, I create a project plan, Miro board, RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consult and Inform document) and get meetings in the diary for conversations I need to have with key stakeholders. This way I have a deadline to work towards and an idea of what needs to be prepared and when. Although in most cases it’s absolutely fine to re-arrange if certain elements are not ready, as long as the communication is clear, and expectations are set and understood.
The highest priority tasks do not hang around for long as I usually deal with them as they come in or I block out specific focus time to help, in particular on my meeting heavy days.
Some of my takeaway advice would be to:
- Make time to focus, block out time in your calendar and stick to it more importantly
- Create project plans
- Know who you need to be in constant communication with and keep the communication lines open
- Have milestones/meetings to aim for
- Keep a checklist of jobs to be done
- If in doubt ask for help, there is nothing wrong with needing support or clarification
I hope that you find this article useful and use some of the takeaways I suggest. Product Management is hard but very rewarding.