Non-beige Project Management

Damien Rundell - 06/08/2018
Project management is one of those disciplines that clients often question the contribution they make to a project, and as a Senior Project Manager that often swings into the business analyst space, I do too. Regularly.

All development projects need an internal governance, vendor side, regardless of their size, but the application of this varies significantly. So, outside of simply executing a contract and managing budgets, I want share my view about the other aspects our clients don’t often see, to help understand the true value good project managers deliver.

In an earlier post, I wrote about the ‘magic’ that occurs on a software project. For a project manager to be successful at the helm, they need to focus on the dynamics of both the client and vendor teams in isolation, and second, the greater formed team as a whole. You can’t teach this kind of intuitive balance, project managers either have it, or they don’t.

There are a sea of beige project managers out there and companies put them in charge of multi-million dollar projects. But when hiring for the roles, interviewers rarely assess emotional intelligence (EQ), which is a key attribute needed for success – and greater than the sum of all parts.

The conditions project managers set for their teams are so critical, working with professional resources at this level requires the provision of autonomy, so the team can operate as one. This freedom almost always eventuates into a better implementation of a project that delivers more value to the client.

Once in a blue moon it doesn’t, and that’s actually ok, because remediation should be taken on by the vendor to get it right. What’s important is the fact that the team member had the space to explore that alternative implementation method, which is liberating, motivating, and empowering – and brings out the absolute best in the team as a whole.

Common task types we use on a software development project are ‘User Stories’, ‘Bugs’ and ‘Tech Tasks’. Yet, there’s one other type that’s often never used by most development companies, an ‘Improvement’.

The 'Improvement' is a key for unlocking the development teams love towards the product they’re developing, as it’s not a contractual requirement or an issue raised by the client. It’s something implemented to just make the product better overall for its users, which is what drives team belief and commitment to the greater deliverable.

In addition to managing scope and budgets, the ebb and flow of time savings deviations on one feature, and spending a little more on an improvement, needs to be tracked too; as in agile delivery with guaranteed outcomes the requirement changes but the budget doesn’t.

Success in this space needs a project manager to have the capacity and expertise to dig in deeper technically, and truly understand what’s being discussed to make sure every deviation is worthwhile and ultimately delivering better value and the best outcome to the client.

Micro-management of professionals is unnecessary and just takes the joy out of their work. You’ll get to the goal, but it will be the minimum deliverable. I personally don’t ever want to work like this.

Project management is more about comradery and leadership than management. When it’s done right, your team get behind you and always take you to the goal with gusto anyway, but they get to grow personally along the way too.

If you have a team of rock stars, treat them like rock stars. If you don’t, do it anyway so they’ve got a chance to step up and be all they can be with your mentoring and support.

To learn more, contact the award winning software development team at Kiandra IT today.

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