This week our PM intern asked me about the best way to write the project status reports. I like when interns ask me questions. I can spend one more working hour speaking about the question topic, work, clients, projects and the hard life of the project managers. If I am lucky I can get up to 7-8 questions per day, so I can be pretty busy with that hard work.
As the project manager I often found myself in the situation when everyone was looking at me and waiting my decision. As they really thought I am an expert or I know what to do. So every project manager should know some facilitation techniques to help team produce the decision or ideas. Because the smartest thing PM can do – allow the people who are really good at thinking to think the problem over and find the decision (I am talking about the team). PM should be a good facilitator and have a list of hand-on practices to help the team.
Have you ever met the manager who is satisfied with the speed of development? I, personally, not. But sometimes it is even worse than just the speed…I had so many educational talks with the customers about the development work – why you can’t code 8 hours in a row and why sitting and staring at the wall or even playing table tennis can be a work too for the developer, as he is thinking over the issue during that time. Once one of the top managers entered my room shouting “They are not working! They are browsing Internet!!! What we can do with that?”
Fixed price contract is by itself the greatest nightmare in the project manager’s life. But when it is combined with agile development frameworks – scrum/kanban/etc – it becomes also a tricky nightmare.
Usually, when clients ask you for “fix price” they mean: fixed money, fixed scope, fixed time. Some of the most reasonable clients I worked with on fixed price projects told me “We are not crazy! Let’s not fix the time! But we should be live till the 1st of June, we have this marketing campaign, you know…”
Even if you work in the “so agile” software development company there is the day when the sales manager comes to you and says: “Hi! We have a new project. I have a bad and a good news for you. The bad one is that it is fixed price, I know how you hate it. But the great one is that you can still your agile, client is ok with it”. So, let’s discuss what you, as PM, can do in this situation.
There are thousand of posts for project managers about motivating their teams on the internet. While searching “Motivating Project Managers” I kept coming across the articles about the developers and how PM should behave. You can’t be a great PM without been a good motivator, so PMs are asked about the ways to motivate developers on every interview. But I think we miss some important item here – the motivation of the Project Managers. We assume that they are somehow already motivated and shine bright every day. Otherwise they can’t motivate the team, right? But no one cared about their motivation in software companies I know, they just required the managers to be “self-motivated”. We just don’t take that into account, as we don’t take into account that all our developers are not so brilliant as we think (and this is normal).
Why I hear so often from developers that project managers they work with are the least educated and know next to nothing about the work their employees do? I can’t even decide who is the least respected by developers – managers or QAs. Of course, when I am talking to my teams I hear jokes only about QAs…But who knows what happens when I leave the room? 🙂
It seems that we constantly pass over qualified people for promotion and somehow get a lot of terrible idiot project managers. How that can be?
Thousands of companies are changing to agile, thousands are already agile (they tell you so very confidently). Some of them implemented Scrum. But I still come across of a lot of Project Managers in such companies. Ok, even better – I have a title of “Senior PM” myself (I hope no one from my teams/colleagues will not see my business cards, as they don’t know I am a PM ^_^). When company implements scrum they have to make a hard decision – what to do with these PMs we have? And usually they have a lot of PMs. I have seen companies where there is 1 PM per each 2 developers. Usually they become Scrum Masters or Product Owners, as it seems the most natural way. Just change the title and that is all – you are the Scrum Master now. Sometimes PMs are left as they were – they still “manage” the projects.
Continue reading the Slack by Tom Demarco book. So many things I already knew organized and well explained. Definitely recommend for PMs.
I believe that Project manager is here, on this planet, not only for the projects to be delivered in time and on budget. On of the most important things for the Project managers is to care about their teams. In software development I always worked so close with the teams, that I couldn’t imagine I can avoid supporting teams health, mood and motivation.
So, let’s talk about monitoring your team health, so you can see the signs of the death coming or any feed back of the system on your actions. By the way, some Project managers prefer to work with zombie teams, as they are so easy to control. I am not judging, so you can use the check-list the both ways – to prevent your team becoming a zombie team and to make you team a zombie team.
Finally, it’s my turn to write about the dead projects. Mostly because I am taking part in more than one now. I collected my observations during the last months and am ready to share them. Let’s start from the most important thing – how to realize that you are working in the zombie project. Zombie – because you can’t say, it’s dead – sometimes a huge team is working on it and you can swear you hear it’s breathing. But it can be only the sound of wind in the tubes.
How to find out that your project is a zombie