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Topics: Communications Management, New Practitioners, Teams
Advice needed: Time estimation, workload and teams
Good morning! I'm working as a Project Manager for an online firm, and I'm currently running a program and one (soon two) other big projects.

Situation 1. Workload:
- Am I taking on to much?
I'm the only PM in the company, and ever since I found PMI I've been obsessed with the way projects works. That said, running a program and one project has been working fine so far, but adding a third is a little scary. I'm now questioning if I'm doing the right thing. I know what needs to be done in this new project as its the next step of one of my previous ones.

Situation 2. Time estimation
-Am I asking too much?
As in all companies, mine wants to get stuff done as soon as possible. All my projects need help from our two development teams, so dividing my resources and getting a clear time estimation from each team is hard. Any good advice on approach?

Situation 3. Teams
- How do I keep my divided resources from losing focus?
Since my teams often have team members from another project, how do I keep them sane throughout the process?
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Situation 1. Workload -
Only you Ulrikke can be the judge if you are taking on too much of a workload. From what you are saying it sounds like you have everything under control and you can take on another project at this time. Work with realistic deadlines that you can hit.

Situation 2. Time estimation -
You need to do a Work Breakdown Structure(WBS) to get a better understanding of the tasks involved. Once you get a clear picture of all the tasks, you can then assign a date/time to complete each task. You need to use MS Project or a Project Management Software to create your project plan from your WBS. This will illustrate how much resources will be required to meet deadlines.

Situation 3. Teams -
Hold regular status meetings with your teams at least once a week.

Keep on top of your task deadlines by sending out emails reminding your team what will be due in the next two weeks. Have them give you a task completion percentage and report any issues.

You need at a minimum to update your project plan weekly to ensure that you are on track.
...
1 reply by Ulrikke Johannessen
Jun 15, 2020 2:36 AM
Ulrikke Johannessen
...
Hello Drake! Thank you for your reply, and I'm sorry about the late response, it's been busy. I actually found out that you are absolutely right :) I am in control and everything is running smoothly as of now.
Ulrikke -

You are in the best position to judge your workload, and based on the analysis of the 2-3 initiatives you will be leading you should be able to determine whether having staff multitask between them will be effective or not.

If you have taken any lean training, you'll know that allowing staff to focus contributes to a reduction in delay and waste so there is a benefit in letting the team members be dedicated to one initiative at a time.

Selling your company's leadership on this won't be easy, but as PMs, we are expected to influence stakeholders' behavior to result in good outcomes for our company, society and the staff we work with.

Kiron
...
1 reply by Ulrikke Johannessen
Jun 15, 2020 2:38 AM
Ulrikke Johannessen
...
Hello Kiron! Thank you for your advice, and I'm terribly sorry about the late response. It's actually working out fine as of now, and I feel confident in what we deliver. I believe I do have the stakeholders on my side and our working with our external partners is turning out fine as well :)
1-you are the owner of your time and space. If up to you if you do not keep both safe. Work smarter, not harder.
2-take a look to Barry Bohem´s Cone of Uncertainty. Is the key.
3-trust. the only way to work with remote teams (I am doing that from more than 25 years ago). Focus?. make them feel they are the owners of the solution, not you. Is up to them if they do not fight for their time and space or they do not believe the solution adds value.
...
1 reply by Ulrikke Johannessen
Jun 15, 2020 2:45 AM
Ulrikke Johannessen
...
Good morning Sergio! Thank you for your time and advice :) I'm sorry it took me so long to respond. I read about the Cone of Uncertainty, and it made me smile. Sometimes I need to be reminded about how uncertain everything is in the beginning and that it's OK! Since I wrote this post, I've realized that you are absolutely right about everything :D
1. Checking your load and capacity can be done best by you. There are also no details which help in suggesting any other possibility.
2. Estimation if difficult then you may want to do a workshop for getting a better understanding by team members and possible constraints, suggestions and risks.
3. As others mentioned "Trust" is the key. You can do feedback sessions with team to know if it is too much (as you mentioned) and adjust the frequency of meetings might help.
It is important that team also accepts and trust you to support.
...
1 reply by Ulrikke Johannessen
Jun 15, 2020 2:50 AM
Ulrikke Johannessen
...
Hello Tarun! Thank you for your advice! I'm sorry it took me this long to respond. When I wrote this post, I was worried that I couldn't handle it and that everything would fall apart, but it's turning out fine after all. I agree that trust is key! We've had several workshops, and it's been a lifesaver :)
Hi Ulrikke,

I echo what Sergio is saying. In my own words:
1. Basically it is that you only can change your own perspectives and behaviors, others will react to these.
2. Do not bother about the future, nobody can foresee it, but be clear about your priorities in tackling the uncertainties. Decide deliberately what not to do.
3. Make it safe for your people before you delegate

I personally tried to make myself dispensable, let others do the heavy lifting, empowering them and also caring for them. In the end leading means not to do everything yourself, but to build your people. For example, can you stick with running just the program and assigning project managers to the 2 projects?
...
1 reply by Ulrikke Johannessen
Jun 15, 2020 2:52 AM
Ulrikke Johannessen
...
Good morning Thomas! Thank you for taking the time to respond to me, and I'm sorry it took me this long to get back to you all. I really appreciate your advice and I'm glad to see that my thoughts and actions are aligned with everyone else :)
Jun 01, 2020 7:33 AM
Replying to Drake Settsu
...
Situation 1. Workload -
Only you Ulrikke can be the judge if you are taking on too much of a workload. From what you are saying it sounds like you have everything under control and you can take on another project at this time. Work with realistic deadlines that you can hit.

Situation 2. Time estimation -
You need to do a Work Breakdown Structure(WBS) to get a better understanding of the tasks involved. Once you get a clear picture of all the tasks, you can then assign a date/time to complete each task. You need to use MS Project or a Project Management Software to create your project plan from your WBS. This will illustrate how much resources will be required to meet deadlines.

Situation 3. Teams -
Hold regular status meetings with your teams at least once a week.

Keep on top of your task deadlines by sending out emails reminding your team what will be due in the next two weeks. Have them give you a task completion percentage and report any issues.

You need at a minimum to update your project plan weekly to ensure that you are on track.
Hello Drake! Thank you for your reply, and I'm sorry about the late response, it's been busy. I actually found out that you are absolutely right :) I am in control and everything is running smoothly as of now.
Jun 01, 2020 8:07 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Ulrikke -

You are in the best position to judge your workload, and based on the analysis of the 2-3 initiatives you will be leading you should be able to determine whether having staff multitask between them will be effective or not.

If you have taken any lean training, you'll know that allowing staff to focus contributes to a reduction in delay and waste so there is a benefit in letting the team members be dedicated to one initiative at a time.

Selling your company's leadership on this won't be easy, but as PMs, we are expected to influence stakeholders' behavior to result in good outcomes for our company, society and the staff we work with.

Kiron
Hello Kiron! Thank you for your advice, and I'm terribly sorry about the late response. It's actually working out fine as of now, and I feel confident in what we deliver. I believe I do have the stakeholders on my side and our working with our external partners is turning out fine as well :)
Hi Shobana! Thank you for your advice and for taking the time to answer me. I'm very sorry it took me so long to respond, I've been busy (working in the day, painting canvases in the evening). I did struggle in the beginning as well, but as you say, fewer meetings, focus on planning, and trusting your team have been the key for me.
Jun 01, 2020 8:54 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
1-you are the owner of your time and space. If up to you if you do not keep both safe. Work smarter, not harder.
2-take a look to Barry Bohem´s Cone of Uncertainty. Is the key.
3-trust. the only way to work with remote teams (I am doing that from more than 25 years ago). Focus?. make them feel they are the owners of the solution, not you. Is up to them if they do not fight for their time and space or they do not believe the solution adds value.
Good morning Sergio! Thank you for your time and advice :) I'm sorry it took me so long to respond. I read about the Cone of Uncertainty, and it made me smile. Sometimes I need to be reminded about how uncertain everything is in the beginning and that it's OK! Since I wrote this post, I've realized that you are absolutely right about everything :D
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Jun 15, 2020 8:52 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
No problem. Just to add something, the Cone of Uncertainty was (and still it is) my lifejacket. The point is you have to do your work to sustain it in front of people you are publishing the estimations because it usually show what that people do not want to see and hear.
Jun 01, 2020 10:09 AM
Replying to Tarun Nair
...
1. Checking your load and capacity can be done best by you. There are also no details which help in suggesting any other possibility.
2. Estimation if difficult then you may want to do a workshop for getting a better understanding by team members and possible constraints, suggestions and risks.
3. As others mentioned "Trust" is the key. You can do feedback sessions with team to know if it is too much (as you mentioned) and adjust the frequency of meetings might help.
It is important that team also accepts and trust you to support.
Hello Tarun! Thank you for your advice! I'm sorry it took me this long to respond. When I wrote this post, I was worried that I couldn't handle it and that everything would fall apart, but it's turning out fine after all. I agree that trust is key! We've had several workshops, and it's been a lifesaver :)
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