Your New Job in Project Management
Your New Job in Project Management
How to Thrive and Fight Another Day
“Your job responsibilities are to manage client projects and relationships as assigned. You will be expected to collaborate with developers using the appropriate methodology (Agile, Waterfall, Hybrid) for each project. You will be responsible for communicating requirements, timelines, and project status with clients.”
Two months seem like the blink of an eye in a fast moving world where projects rule - I’ve been a Product Owner at Code Koalas for a hair over two months. The job is to execute work to the best of the team’s ability, using whatever tools available, newly dreamed up or classic industry standard. At the same time, clients need to be engaged, needs defined or clarified, status delivered, and timelines managed, so things get done and people tell their friends about our amazing work. No big deal! I’d like to share some of the most helpful things I’ve used to keep projects successfully moving along as a Product Owner at Code Koalas.
Get in and start swinging.
Jumping into project management at a new place is a challenge. Even though managing a project may have some of the same high level themes (budget, schedule, team resources) you don’t know what you don’t know. Hop into the fight and start swinging, and you need to swing with purpose and gather information like a madman.
Discover and catalog information as quickly as possible so you’ll know what’s going on. Start with checklists that identify processes you see taking place in your new environment and find some way to capture the relevant data for each project that you’ll be expected to answer for. You know, when the CEO says “Hey Eric, where are we on the new feature set for Customer ABC?” You need a quick reference tool to find answers quickly if you don’t know everything. I quickly moved from a physical notebook to Trello cards to keep track of information that doesn’t live in our ticketing system. For each project I have a card that serves as a quick reference tool and usually contains the following information:
- Main Players - WHO are my primary contacts for the project?
- Work - WHAT are we doing for the client? What’s the budget expectation?
- Dates - WHEN are the players expecting something from the team? When was the statement of work signed? What does the SOW say? What’s the overall timeline?
- Helpful links - Add links to anything that contains important information for the work - product requirements documentation, websites, work tickets (Jira), Google Drive / DropBox folders, etc.
If you don’t know answers to the items above, first look everywhere you can. Was there a document shared with you in Google Drive or Slack already that has the answer? If not, ASK someone who knows. Then write it down so you never need to ask again.
Take work off your comrade's plate.
Doesn’t it feel good when someone offers to do something for you so you can do something else and accomplish more? Yep. At your new job make it a point to Identify things you see other people doing that might better fall in your skillset, or that seem like something that’s unecessary for that person to do because they have YOU working with them. Do you see the CEO writing a simple statement of work? You can write a statement of work, you were in the same meeting where the deal was discussed, details nailed down, and hands shook. Offer to do it, and then do it.
Are developers creating projects, writing tasks, and prioritizing work in your ticketing system? Take it off their plates and let them develop great work instead of worrying about organizing the ticketing system. An organization that’s going to succeed has people making the best out of the valuable time we’re given.
Work is comprised of valuable people.
Your co-workers are your allies and your battle buddies. At your new gig, it’s critical you know who your partners are and the culture you are now involved in. Isn’t it more fun to work every day with friends and people you know and can relate with? Make it a goal to eat meals with as many people as you can, make the best use of car rides to off site meetings, and spend time with people at work. You can learn people’s abilities. You can learn their thought process and their approach to solving problems. You figure out their attitude and their strengths. It makes work a good part of life and you get more friends out of the deal, even though you may be mortal enemies when the box of Nerf guns appears from the dark closet beneath the creaky staircase in the office…
Figure out what you don’t know. Embrace learning. Catalog your knowledge so you can reference it. Help others do what they do best. Make friends. Enjoy the journey.