Project Management

Are You Just Too Darn Busy?

From the Project Management 2.0 Blog
New technologies, concepts, and Web 2.0 tools are popping up everywhere. How can you use them to help your project team collaborate, communicate - or just give your project an extra boost? [Contact Dave]

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"Take a number!"

How many times have you heard that from one of your PM buddies? We've always been part of an incredibly busy profession.  Now there's a new survey conducted by in partnership with WorkFront,(formerly ATTask) that tells us we are busier than ever. In this survey 55% of Project Managers reported a significant increase in their workload in 2014.

Among other things, the survey shows:

  • About a third of PMs still use a spreadsheets and email as their primary project management tools.
  • 27% of PMs feel like their biggest problem is that project Information is scattered across too many disconnected tools
  • More than half of all PMs spend about 20-30% of their time on status updates.

So what do you think this means? Are we just not selecting and integrating our tools well? Do we just have more to do in general?  Have you noticed more demand for reporting lately?

Posted on: March 13, 2015 12:11 PM | Permalink

Comments (19)

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I find that status updates can be cumbersome, especially when I failed to develop a thorough communication plan, so that people know when and how they will be receiving their information. That said, a PM's job is said to be 90% communication, which means that we'll be doing a lot of preparation for status reports, however, this can be overdone, and a good PM knows when to push back, when to say, "this is impacting our efficiency, why don't we stick to the communication plan."

More talk more walk! Cuts down status report details by half! Too much detailed status report info is overkill! It won't be read! Bullet point the main project achievements highlight risks etc more! If you need to produce a status report more than one page! Seriously! A meeting is required! Many project managers as I remember it were far more administrative than managing a project! Paper chasing!

In my opinion status reporting should take no more than 5% or time, and that should include meeting time directly associated with status updates.

Regarding the other stats, I think that PMs need to always think of efficiency and value added, and if working with Excel adds the most value for the effort, that's fine. I have seen where MS Project plans are required - but they added no extra value! The value was in the act of planning itself, and for most smaller projects, the tool is not very important.

The "disconnected tools" survey result can be a big problem on bigger projects. However, it sounds like the emphasis was placed on tools and not on the project, somewhere along the line. Again, back to my first point, maybe someone required MS Project, and at the same time some other tools were also required. Allowing the PMs themselves to manage the projects, with minimal requirements, can be most effective at eliminating the disconnected tools problem.

Ugh... project status reporting is the worse. All the time and effort it takes, and then to not even have upper management read the whole thing? I agree with Vasoula to highlight risks and project achievements.
I know for a fact manual reporting isn't critical. An example is the State of Georgia Technology Authority. "the 80 person-hour manual process of collecting project data from the project managers and consolidating into a presentation package for the Critical Panel Review now takes only about 4 hours of effort" - source

Great post, Dave! Well, I believe that PMs don't devote enough time to understand stakeholders and their expectations. Senior managers and project sponsors usually are quite busy people. They don't have the time to understand all the nuts and bolts of your project... Consequently, we should focus on communicating only what they need, not a word more.

With respect to your stats that a third of PMs still use e-mail and Excel....if that's what mgmt or the stakeholders want (as per Communication Plan), then that's what they should get. Many executives and stakeholders don't want anything to do with gantt charts and burn-down charts within an unfamiliar software interface. Give 'em Excel, and they're happy.

While the hype of project management has increased, the traditional way of working still remains. We need to change and convert to modern and more effective tools.

I agree that reporting has evolved with the ever increasing control over the project. Now for a better monitoring and control management is asking for more and more reporting.

This is another variation of the work smart vs work hard argument. If it can even be called an argument.

Who are the consumers of your downstream activities. Have you spent time getting to know what they need and what they expect. Can you find ways to satisfy their requirements without eating up significant personal bandwidth.

The debate goes on!!

Being busy seems to be the way of things these days - doing more with less and all that. Being organized helps with being busy and finding ways to streamline how we work overall - improving our own processes for working.

It is important to define what is urgent, what is important, which contributes to achieving the objectives, in order to make decisions and focus on what serves. It is important to handle the Pareto topic: 20/80. This allows us to be efficient in what we do on projects.

Adapt and Evolve to keep abreast with the latest management tools. Unless we adopt new tools and technique, we will be working using the things mentioned above, with coming times quick responses, updates, status will be of prime importance. Better to adopt new tools and utilise the time in more productive way.

Multumim ! big like !

A great post Dave. People tend to be busy but are our projects getting better. I am not sure. I think people need to understand the stakeholders well at the beginning and if they are organized many of these can be avoided

Thank you Dave

PMs more often than note write reports with too much technical report ignoring that some stakeholders are not interested in the jargon but a summary simply showing that the project is on track, profits will be realized and project will be completed on time.

that said, it takes up significant time writing status reports to suit various stakeholders with different needs.

There is need to embrace tools coming up which streamline the need to write several report and spreadsheets. Changing to these more modern tools can be resisted at first but in the long haul the benefits are huge.

We are being required to document everything what a happens in a project, which takes a lot of production time!

big like #

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