Project Management

How Much Time Should a PM Spend on a Task?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

When I’m working with new project managers, I often ask them to tell me how they spend their time. As you would expect (and hope), most spend the majority of their time communicating with their team in one form or another.

But you don’t need to be a new PM to constantly recognize the importance of developing relationships and ensuring everyone understands what is expected of them. As someone who taught me project management once said, “You spend the first 90% of your time communicating, and the other 90% of your time doing everything else.” While they were trying to be clever, the message has stayed with me.

But what about all those other things that a PM has to do? How long should a PM spend managing risks, updating plans, managing stakeholders, or any of the other countless accountabilities they have? That’s not something that tends to be addressed in any of the training courses that new PMs are sent on. They’re taught how to do things, and perhaps when on the project those things are important—but they’re left on their own to figure out how long to spend on them.

That’s why so many new project managers end up working ridiculously long hours. They try and stay on top of everything, spending evenings and weekends doing all of those tasks that don’t involve communications.

Well, I have good news and bad …


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