Pragmatic Project Management

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A common-sense, oriented approach to getting "IT" done.

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The most worthless template in the world

A Decade Later...Why Being Pragmatic Still Matters

"Let Me, Entertain You..."

The most worthless template in the world

Back in my early PM days, PMO's were all the rage.  It was a total parent-rebellious teenager relationship.  They made the rules (governance) and we were to follow their directives (via process and templates).

Now, I've mentioned templates before.  I like templates.  Especially when they make sense.

The one template though, that has never EVER made sense to me.... 

THE WEEKLY INDIVIDUAL TEAM MEMBER STATUS REPORT

This is a status report, filled out weekly, by the individual team member and is supposed to be an input into the project manager's status report.  It usually contains an update on where the individual team member is with their deliverable, it gives them the opportunity to identify risks and issues, and it may also provide them with an area where they can share other thoughts like hey - I may be taking off next Friday.

I approached the Director of the PMO in an "I'm seeking to understand" mode and this is what his response to me was (via lotus notes....yes I still have this email!).

A weekly status report enables project managers to track their individual team member's performance and progress.  Project managers do not have the time to talk to every team member about each of their weekly tasks in detail.  This is an efficient way to communicate. It's in a word processing format which makes it easy for you to just copy and paste directly into your status report. 

Let's all just pause for a moment, shall we?

OH MY GAWD!  

  1. I work with a lot of IT developers and I can tell you that documentation is their least favorite thing to do.
  2. I'm supposed to wait until FRIDAY before I find out that a deliverable is going to be late? Or that there is an issue?  
  3. How does this save ME any time? My status report has a different audience and I wouldn't dare copy/paste anything over.

I absolutely needed to know how my team members were progressing but also, it was imperative that I understood what barriers were preventing them from moving forward.

So before it was cool to be "Agile", I did daily stand-up meetings but back in 2001, I called them, "Daily Team Check-In Meetings".  They were generally less than 10 minutes and I took notes.

Yup, I created a template even.

  • Team Member Name (pre-populated)
  • Deliverable with Due Date (pre-populated)

Then in our team check-in they would tell us

  • What I'm doing today
  • What I need help with (usually taken offline with them once I knew what it was)
  • Still on track to meet your date (if no - I'd take that offline with them)

And then I'd tell them all that I hope that they had an awesome day and to reach out if I was needed for anything.

Side note: Never underestimate the power of wishing someone an awesome day. I mean, put it in your own words of course....but a positive and sincere comment gets a person's day off to a great start.

I don't want to brag (but I will), that daily check-in meeting with my project team was the bomb!  Communication flowed...barriers were identified quickly and taken care of sooner rather than later.  My projects were not only on time (budget well - that's another story for another day) but my team members were happy and I know that they became better communicators.  The best part - they built long-lasting relationships with each other. How awesome is that?

Posted on: October 07, 2018 12:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

A Decade Later...Why Being Pragmatic Still Matters

Categories: Project Management

Hello Friends!

Many years ago, I belonged to a website known as gantthead.com.  At that time, there was some free material, but if you wanted the good stuff, you needed to pay an annual subscription rate (why does $200 per year pop up in my mind?).  I liked the concept of the site and I enjoyed the contributions made by experienced project management folks.  Back in the day, the templates that were shared saved me a lot of time and to those of you who created and shared those - thank you very much!

I apparently started this blog back during that time.  Re-reading my first and only entry, I can remember writing it.  I didn't stew over what to write - I just let it all flow.  I was thrilled that I was able to share my philosophy with anyone who cared to read it. 

And then life happened.  I'll spare you the details...I'm sure though...it's not anything that you all haven't experienced. There's only so many hours in a day and sanity dictates playing it pragmatically...which is what I did.

It's been a decade. I'm back. This is no longer gantthead.com but I am still - VERY MUCH - a pragmatic project manager.

And why does that matter?

Being a kick-ass project manager hasn't become easier.   Without doing any google searches to back up what I'm about to say, I can tell you that the bar has been raised.  Our profession is much more respected than it used to be.  There are a bazillion certifications.  The projects we're managing aren't just construction and technology related....we've expanded in other areas that had little to no respect for the role. Our teams are spread out all over the country.  The tools we are expected to use to do our job aren't intuitive and are sometimes overkill for our corner of the world.  Regulatory and compliance...do I need to even expand on this area?  

And of course, because we've gotten SO GOOD at what we do, we're expected to deliver faster, better, and cheaper.  

Being pragmatic is relevant.  It is a balance of the art and the science. It doesn't look to a tool to explain where you really are in your project.  It remembers that the biggest deal maker/breaker in the will you succeed or will you fail arena is the PEOPLE factor.

My commitment to anyone who reads this is that I'm going to do my best to share with you, examples of where being pragmatic has worked for me because you never know - it just might work for you too.

 

 

Posted on: October 03, 2018 02:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

"Let Me, Entertain You..."

Categories: Project Management

Project Management.

Two words that can create a series of reactions.

Common ones include:

  • Silence (this usually is followed with a rolling of the eyes and is one of the most common reactions.)
  • I've done project management (this comes from individuals who THINK they've done project management but in reality, it wasn't anything near it. Think glorified Tech Lead who needs another title to satisfy their ever-growing egos.)
  • Right (this comes from the individual who thinks that Project Management is just bureaucratic overhead.)
  • What about it? (this comes from the know-it-all who really knows nothing.)

And then there's the rest of us.

Project Management actually excites us.

Invigorates us.

Gets our brains and minds moving.

Well, for some of us.

Especially those of us who take a Pragmatic approach to it.

So you may ask yourself - who are we?

In honor of my glass half-full friends, I'll start with the who we aren't.

We aren't about:

  • Titles
  • Paperwork
  • Office space(s)
  • Billions of people subordinate to your position
  • Impressing others for the sake of discrediting others
  • Stepping on the little people (because really, we're all just little people)

We are about:

  • Art
  • Science
  • Logic
  • Relationships
  • Inventing
  • Efficiency
  • Excitement
  • Blood, Sweat, and Tears
  • Growth
  • Teamwork
  • Knowledge
  • Smart short-cuts
  • Quality
  • *Food
  • *Pop Culture/Trivia
  • *Great Music
  • *Making this world a better place

* May only apply to the author of this blog.

Pragmatic Project Management is about me. I think it's about you. I think it's about how common sense-oriented people approach delivery value to their customer with the help of tools, templates, tricks, and whatever else we have up our sleeves.  

What can you expect from this blog? Lots of bluntness.  Lots of honesty.  War stories.  My failures.  My successes.  

How often?  Probably weekly.  I won't force it if it won't come naturally.  After all, I'll be very pragmatic about this blog too.

Posted on: May 16, 2008 11:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)
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"There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself."

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