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I am a team leader.

My team handles multiple projects. Each has a different project manager.

Our priorities keep changing according to deals the company is about to close.

The project managers are not synchronized and whenever I talk to one PM I have to explain why other tasks of other projects were declared as more important than his/her project.

I need to create an environment for a changing work-plan (deadline, design, priorities etc..) and that will keep all my project managers synchronized.

  • How can I set this kind of work environment?
  • Who is supposed to synchronize parallel work-plans for different projects? Is it the project managers or the RnD manager?
  • Who manages the project managers? Why isn't coordinating them that person's responsibility? – Todd A. Jacobs Oct 22 '13 at 17:59
  • Even if it is that person's responsibility, clearly it is left undone and I take it on myself to resolve this on my side. – guy mograbi Oct 22 '13 at 19:57
6

Issue Log & Risk Registry. (hat tip to @David Espina, without whose answer I would have missed this).

You're responsible for your project(s). Anything that you can solve relative to those projects, you're obliged to solve. These are examples of things you cannot solve, because they are artifacts of dysfunctional organizational process assets.

Things you cannot solve go in the issue log and should be briefed to management,

"We are unable to predict completion date with less than a +/- 75% accuracy because we spend approximately 25% of our time managing our conflicting priorities"

Similarly the risk log should indicate the uncertainty and most importantly the impact of the priority flux.

8

When projects and project managers are out of sync, this is an issue at the organizational level. The organization needs to resolve this problem if it chooses to advance in its project management maturity level. That said, it is quite common. Usually, you see this question from the PM point of view, who is trying to ensure its matrixed resources are utilized to his/her benefit over the other projects.

I would suggest being crystal clear as to the known priorities under which you are operating and the level of promised utilization you committed for your team under each project. When you have a conflict, escalate. There needs to be an escalation route so that conflicts can be analyzed and sorted through. And above all, communicate to each of the PMs demanding your team's time. So if you have a deadline with one project make sure everyone else knows it.

In some sense, it is not within your role to synchronize the projects. It is your role to ensure adequate utilization for your team such that conflicts on bandwidth are minimized, no individual is over-utilized, and work is sequenced based on known priorities.

2

I completely agree with Marc and David and want to suggest - as to how to set this up - that you find a tool that you can use to easily track your projects' stories and shuffle their priorities. A tool that can be set up in a way that the PMs are immediately informed of any change and can take a look at the current status.

Pretty much any project management tool should do this for you, but buying those/setting them up might be an issue or even no-go, based on company policy. Other more light-weight tools could be a better fit, so I'll mention one in a comment and others can add to it over time as options become obsolete.

  • 1
    I've had good results, using trello.com to similar ends. – CMW Oct 28 '13 at 22:29
2

Thank you all for the great answers. I picked a winner, but wanted to add my own experience over the last few days.

As I am a UI team leader, we created a stupid UI using angular, yeoman etc.. ( the tools we use every day) to create a UI with everything we need.

This environment has a "live reload" so that every time I change the code, it updates, so all our data is hard-coded as well. Sounds weird but seems like the best tool as the data is saved in a JSON format which is best for developers.

We decided that the team scrum will be in a new format, I raise the server and all the team look at our new UI. We decided to call it "flight-plan" since it reminded us the board your have at airports for outgoing and incoming flights. We are even using airplane icons and terminology in it.

We already have 7 sections: - An overall for all tasks with some progress computation according to subtasks weight and status (done, started, initial, null). - it also includes 'deadline','ETA','have design (yes/no)','team member responsible','last updated','created at','starting working at'... - Questions - for questions the team had and I have to find an answer - Pending Issues - we go over our JIRA and see if there are new issues. we document our decision in the flight plan. - Guidelines - where we simply write some standards for the team (we should run build locally before each commit, we should notify of ETA changes 10 days at most before deadline, etc...) - Red flags - important issues that were raised and I need to bubble up. - Support cases - according to source with status - Detailed subtasks - a more details view for each task.

And we are adding more as we need.. No tool, no authorization from company.

First few meetings took a while (40 minutes) and now it is down to 20 minutes which is reasonable.

At the end of each team scrum, I print it out to PDF and send it to my supervisor which in turn can do whatever she wants with it.

I've barely heard from the project managers for over a week now. Our deadlines are in a couple of days and things seem fine.

One project manager told me he saw the "flight-plan" and did not understand the deadline - it should be 1 day earlier.. we simply moved the deadline...

Your answers and comments helped me design and improve the flight plan. I am also linking to this page from the flight plan just in case.

1

I don't believe you need a tool to do this. You need to have a PM meeting where you bring the project managers together and set the priorities. We actually have two of these meetings, one for the PMs with the PMs' manager where we discuss the status of our project and any interdependencies. We also have a meeting with the resource manager to request resources, and see how the resources are assigned across plans. Our overall department makes the high priority and strategic projects clear at our quarterly meetings, so everyone knows why another project might take priority in resources over theirs.

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