Road Bumps in Project Management Pt. 2

Last week my colleague and friend Ivo wrote a short piece about his experiences in project management. I decided to do a second instalment, but in this article I’ll focus on internal issues mainly.

Now I’d like to make it clear that our company is dealing mostly with web stuff. However, I feel like the things I’m going to talk might come useful in the offline world and not only for project managers. Then this little write-up doesn’t even intend to be an exhaustive list (i.e. I’m not listing every possible problem you can overcome), it’s just a couple of things I find worthy of mentioning.

So here’s my little list of road bumps in Project Management.

1. Procrastination & Deadlines

We all procrastinate, especially if our deadlines are far away. Many of us are just hanging out if we feel we still have a lot of time and as deadlines approach we start working twice as hard as we should. I don’t like this, since this type of work is difficult to plan, leads to burn out, which leads to errors and more work.

To avoid procrastination, it’s a good idea to set weekly or even daily goals for team members. Besides this, I start every day, by listing my to-dos which I have to finish that day and I encourage coworkers to follow this practices.

2. Planning and Specifications

When planning a project it’s always tempting to define the scope, specify every single feature, hand over a document to the developers and move on. I don’t think this is a good idea though, as unforeseen problems and questions will always come up along the way.

For a better outcome, I’d recommend to identify the most important parts of a project first. A good way to do this is to find the red routes. Once you’re done with the specification, the team can start working, while you can continue with specifying the rest, bit by bit. This way you’ll stay in touch with the project and make alignments to the specification if necessary.

3. Collaboration & Priorities

When you’re working on a project together, it’s a standard to somehow visualise things to do and the team’s progress. There’s a plethora of project management tools online, we tried lots of them, but for me, probably the simplest one worked best.

Get a Trello account, set up a Kanban Board and let everybody manage their tasks. Thoughbot has a great article in their playbook on the hows.

4. The Attitude

I think a project manager is either too laid-back or too inquisitive; there doesn’t seem to be a golden mean. I think neither approach is good, but it’s not what really matters. The most important is to keep things organised, so everyone can work at their fastest pace, without waiting for an information from me.

Fortunately our company culture is built on trust and everyone’s capability of self-organization, which — if all goes well — means I don’t have to watch over everybody’s shoulders all the time.

That’s about it guys, keep your projects structured and make sure you always get plenty of sleep!