P is for Prepared
What does it mean to be prepared? When it comes to the art of project management, preparedness can mean the difference between project success or project failure. The team-oriented nature of building out a project demands a PM who knows how to adequately prepare for the series of meetings, status checks and overall communication required to move from one milestone to the next. In the real world, this is not as easy, nor as intuitive as one might imagine.
Prepared is not simply showing up with an agenda, prepared is moving the project closer to completion.
The venue for a PM to demonstrate his/her preparedness is the ever present “project meeting.” Meetings are both a necessity and a burden and no one is more responsible for a meeting’s outcome, good or bad, than the PM. In light of this fact, here are several key elements which I find critical in order to keep a meeting on track.
- Agenda – of course you need one, and it should be detailed enough to warrant action
- Obstacles – review them and determine who or what is needed to resolve any roadblocks
- Break out – action items are moved into another forum, the project meeting is for the high level communication, break out into smaller groups for the real work
Preparedness allows for consistent and adequate communication. In between the larger project meetings, there will always be status updates from individual team members and other types of communication such as email, project calls, and webinars. The key to managing communication such as this effectively again requires the PM to be ready, conduct change management, and to retool. This means moving from Plan A to Plan C in rapid succession and with great attention to detail. One simply cannot move quickly unless one is prepared to move quickly.
Finally, the blood brother of preparedness is precision. Every project worth assigning to a PM has devilish details. Keeping track of the details can be challenging and usually requires third party tools. In my next blog post, I will discuss several techniques/tools which have helped me achieve greater precision in my own work.