Being a seasoned IT project manager; I find that my line of work is rewarding and exciting due to the potential of meeting new people and learning new things every day. I see my role as a diplomat, trying to meet the needs of both the client and the project development team in order to ensure that the project development process is smoothly run and delivered. After all, a smooth project launch is how our quality and skills are appraised by everyone involved.
I wanted to write up this article for fresh project managers who can be overwhelmed with common issues that may hinder the quality of their work and ability to deliver the project as promised from the moment they gathered requirements.
Here are 3 (seemingly logical, but often neglected) key priorities to keep in order to avoid a taxing project management experience.
Be Clear on Deliverables & Objectives
A common issue that inflicts almost any project is a lack of clarity between the client and the service provider. Your role as a project manager in the early stages of the development process is to ensure that all the client’s business and technical requirements are gathered
However, as many of us already know, this is hardly the fact. Client’s usually added extra requirements out of scope or make an alteration to already gathered requirements that throws a spanner in the entire process. This is usually down to the client’s lack of knowledge regarding their digital needs as a business in both the short-term and more importantly long-term.
Instead of simply filling out a template or checklist; spend time with the client to focus on what they hope to achieve with their project (e.g. website). Discuss pros, cons, trends, industry best practices, target audience characteristics and behaviors.
Obviously, it wouldn’t be possible to have a thorough and intimate insight into each industry out there; so I found that having someone who understood the client’s industry and technical requirements should be present to bridge the gap.
The whole point of that meeting (or series of meetings if necessary) is for the client to leave with a complete idea about how the project will serve and enhance their value proposition as a digital business. That way, they will be confident that every aspect implemented in the project is there for a specific reason. From UX design to CMS features.
Quantify and Translate
Once the client is satisfied that you have registered their needs and educated them about needs they didn’t know about; it’s time to take care of your project development team.
It’s not enough to simply forward the notes via email to the technical team lead or development team; you have to dissect, translate and quantify each note into an objective and deadline. That may not be your strong suit at the moment, that is why it's equally important to have the technical team lead be present in such early meetings to contribute where needed.
With the technical team lead’s expert assistance; you can translate each client requirement into a measurable deliverable. This is where the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Timely) deliverables concept comes into play.
Breaking down each requirement into SMART deliverables will provide clarity & accountability to both the client and the project development team.
IT Project Management Tools
Typically, you’d be in charge of multiple projects at any given time. Imagine having to deal with each client’s issues and addressing sudden challenges that face each project’s development team without anything to streamline the process.
It’s like dealing with a nursery full of crying babies in sync. You’d just want to curl up and go to sleep.
Thankfully, we have project management tools. These tools are not a luxury, but a blessing and a must-have for any project manager to easily address the overwhelming number of tasks, issues, and challenges.
My personal favorite is Trello. I like using Trello because it’s flexible, accessible, easy to use and it doesn’t need much of a learning curve.
Trello is one of the many excellent project and task management tools out there which can help you organize your tasks through Kanban boards. Also, for someone as detail-oriented, I appreciate the fact that Trello can handle tons of detail per task or ‘card’ as Trello likes to refer to them.
Project management is exciting and rewarding.
I hope these tips will provide you with the foundation you need to overcome the ongoing challenges that face project managers in the IT industry every day. They may seem logical and not that noteworthy, but as you will experience yourself soon enough that it is easy to be overwhelmed and fall back in delivering the quality and standards that your client expected from you.