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I'm going to manage my first project that is really a small stream of an even greater project, and my boss said that I could make my own schedule and plans etc.

I have a couple of questions, I need some help with:

  • When it comes to organizing meetings, is one meeting per week enough?
  • How often do I need to catch-up with developers?
  • Do I need to come by once a day and check-up on their status?
  • What kind of planning should I do?
  • What is the best way to plan the projects development status?
  • What should I avoid when I'm about to do planning?

My background: I have been doing a great amount of Resource Management and Project Coordination before taking on this role, and before that I had been an IT Engineer, but it all changed when I decided to switch careers and started my part-time MBA.

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    It sounds like projects are already being managed at your company. Is there a reason that you want to start from scratch? Or, can you learn from a current project manager at the company and current best practices? – Mark Phillips May 17 '13 at 17:34
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    Mark's question is a good one. Everything starts off with a process or framework. Your company either has one for projects or doesn't. If the latter, then Zsolt's or David's answers are apt. Otherwise, you should go with Mark's suggestion about learning from another PM. – TechWire Jun 10 '13 at 20:16
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The It depends pretty much answers all of your questions because they really depend on the context.

My first advice is to change your questions by adding the why do I to the beginning. For example, "Why do I want to have one meeting per week?" Because I have to write a report once a week to my boss? Or, because I would like to know about the daily life of the developers I'm working with. Or, because the other project managers have a meeting per week, and if they do, it must be something good...

My second advice is to figure out what you would like to achieve with this project. What is your goal, and what is your vision. If you have these two, you can start thinking about the how.

Some general thoughts:

  • Don't have a meeting unless you have something to discuss that requires the whole team and cannot be discussed on the spot
  • Don't plan too much ahead. Plan for a week, and at the end of the week check how far you got and use this information during the next planning
  • Plan with your colleagues and never alone. They'll execute your plan, and in most of the cases they have more information about technicalities than you have
  • Have a roadmap for future roles (can be meta)
  • Update it often and discuss it with your boss
  • Talk to you people regularly about their work, their problems, and their plans
  • Talk often to your boss. You need a mentor in the organisation (everybody needs a mentor)
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In one post, you managed to exhibit simultaneously what you SHOULD do and what you SHOULD NOT do. You are asking all the right questions and there are a ton more you need to ask. And each question should spawn into several more. What you SHOULD NOT do is expect a definitive answer as there is no such thing. Zsolt has it right: it depends.

Ask the question, then answer it with 3 or 4 alternatives. Take each alternative and analyze its benefits, its costs, and its risks. How many meetings a week? Well, your alternatives range from, what, zero through maybe eight? Nine? Pick 3 alternatives and do a benefits, costs, risks analysis. One alternative will start to emerge as the least crappy one for THIS project at THIS time. Do this with all of your questions and the rest of them you haven't asked yet.

This is analysis, this is planning, this is problem solving in a world where there are few, very few, definitive right answers.

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Do I need to come by once a day and check-up on their status

Be with your team as much as possible. This is the best way to build the trust in the team, observe the status, discover issues and help in solving them.

I recommend an article which talks about this: Flying office - by Paweł Brodziński

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I see the heading is how do I start. I think a good start would be to have a 20 minute meeting the first day and then at least a 5-10 minute meeting everyday. Does not have to be at a exact time, we used to do them when everyone available.

Do I need to come by once a day and check-up on their status? I think its a good idea as long as your not rude or too loud. A daily catch up is good

What kind of planning should I do? You need to have a 'if all goes well' this is the plan for the next 1.5 months, but spend mo more than an hour on that. Need to focus on the next 10 days.

What is the best way to plan the projects development status? Plan the status? not sure what this means. if you mean obtain the status -> then meetings, trackers and testing progress seem good yardsticks

What should I avoid when I'm about to do planning? make too many assumptions, not talk to at least 2 other project managers at least initially, take inputs from all stake holders

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