In the introductory blog in this series, we outlined five important attributes, the Five Ps if you will, of project management– prepared, precise, proactive, perseverance, and perpetual learning. The next installation expounded upon the first in P is for Prepared. Next, let’s talk about precision.
P is for Precise
As the person who is almost solely responsible for ensuring the success of a project, precision is critical for a project manager. Keeping track of all of the nuanced details can be challenging and it’s not uncommon for PMs to use external tools to help. For example, one could purchase a membership to the Project Management Institute where you have access to templates, forms, and checklists galore as well as a fairly comprehensive support structure.
Some would rather a free option, of course, and there are some great ones out there. The following sites provide a framework for PMs to utilize for a structure within which to operate and communicate. One that seems to be present on many PM lists and a favorite in the field is Asana, which is a collaboration tool and multi-project hybrid task and management site. Similar sites are Evernote, Trello, ProjectManager.com, and Teamwork.com. Each has their own style and organizational structure, so it would be prudent to explore various site interfaces to identify the one which is most appealing to you or most suitable for your particular projects.
Most project managers have honed various techniques in order to stay organized, communicative, and on task. Frequently these include lengthy checklists or giant white board diagrams with colored post it notes (which sounds primitive, but can be useful if you are a more visual person and have the space). A common favorite for the more complex project is that which is called a Critical Path Analysis (CPA, also called a Critical Path Method or CPM) which is, in reality, just an impressive way to say flow chart. This is a logical and effective method as the format is linear, essentially a timeline. CPA diagrams are excellent for displaying each interdependent factor as well as demonstrating how they overlap and coincide with others. Mind Tools provides a step-by-step process using the CPA technique.
When we speak of precision, it’s not just the precision of the project manager that is important. One of the responsibilities of a PM is to be able to recognize the various strengths and weaknesses of team members. To this end, it may be helpful to have a skills inventory for each of their people. Along side the list of each person’s technical expertise, it is useful to have a directory of their more abstract qualities, such as creativity, vision, or, you got it, precision and attention to detail. This is a valuable team member to have and a PM may utilize their ability by having them conduct a website audit, for example, in the beginning stages of a website project, or maybe have them aspart of the quality assurance process in the final stages of a project, or maybe even ask them to analyze and report metrics. Regardless of your project, be sure the use the person with an eye for detail and innate precision wisely.
In the next blog in this series, we’ll talk about the importance of being proactive and what that means for a project manager, so stay tuned!