A couple of weeks ago, the project sponsor of a project I’m working on sent a really nice note in reference to my work. It said “Dagny knows her stuff and I like her approach.” Since then I’ve been really thinking about my “approach.” I know that I’m good at what I do, and in this case, I’ve been given the flexibility to run these projects my way. But still, I wonder what defines my approach.
In the end, I’ve come up with 3 core principles to my approach.
- Questions, Questions, Questions – It is critical in any project you manage to be willing and able to ask as many questions as you need. This starts before you even take on the project in it’s entirety. Who are my resources? Are they dedicated or part-time to the project? Next is the deep dive into any specifications or other project documentation. What are the goals? What is being requested by the customer? What do the resources think it means? What does the development landscape look at? All of these are just to get you started. Once you manage the projects, it is still your responsibility to ask and push. This is the only way to understand what’s going on. It is also the only way to can effectively keep the stakeholders up to date, as well as truly be able to remove roadblocks for the resources.
- Communication – Once you dive in and ask all these questions, it’s equally important to document the answers and communicate the impact. This applies as much (if not more) to negative information as positive. Do not shy away from delivering bad news. Knowledge in an of itself is worthless. You need to make sure you are effectively aggregating, documenting and then communicating the information you find. Make it available. Your forthrightness will be appreciated.
- Oversight – I believe you need to check in with your resources and your stakeholders on a regular basis. A regular cadence of status meetings is recommended, but I would strongly consider subsequent email statuses delivered between meetings, especially for time sensitive/critical projects.
I think these 3 principles are at the heart of my project management methodology. They result in not just effective management of a project, but also help to build the trust you need with resources and stakeholders.