By Veronica Thraen / September 14, 2020
There are many misconceptions about project management, like “it adds too much process and paperwork to the team” or it’s “overhead or overrated.” There can also be some confusion or unrealistic expectations about the role of a project manager.
As a consultant, it is my responsibility to provide clear goals/objectives and benefits of project management, as well as answer any questions. Because I’ve received many of the same questions over time, I thought I’d share the top 5 most frequently asked. Here they are:
1. How many projects can one project manager take on concurrently?
This is the most common question—and the one most difficult to answer. A PM should be able to take on 4 or 5 projects with varied complexities. But there are multiple factors that play into this such as level of experience, project complexity, as well as company size or industry.
Having a 1:1 conversation with the project manager is a critical step to identifying how many projects they can handle. This ICPM article offers several ways to guesstimate a number based on the total effort hours of the project overall.
2. How will we get buy-in from teams who are already used to doing things a certain way?
Ask yourself if the current process is working and if you’re getting the desired results. If the answer is no, then it’s time for a change.
There will always be some pushback or skepticism from those who are uncomfortable with change. But if you have communicated the goal and benefits with teams, along with a valid business case and executive buy-in, they will be more willing to accept it.
Determine the most feasible rollout for your organization. For example, consider implementing in phases or even selecting a project as a “pilot.” Taking smaller steps rather than implementing in one fell swoop will reduce any concerns that the team may have. It also gives them the opportunity to be involved in any adjustments and see the progress along the way.
3. How will I know that adding project management to the team has been successful?
What’s the point in implementing process if you can’t measure the outcome? Documenting “current state” project delivery data will provide a baseline when comparing against future state data. That is, how many projects were delivered on time and within budget before a project management process was implemented? If not delivered on time or within budget, how far off track were they and why?
Review the results once the pilot project has been completed. Do you see measured improvement in project delivery? What about budget performance? Did the number of change requests increase or decrease? Based on results, you’ll be able to identify what’s working and what’s not. Over time, you’ll see a vast improvement in the way projects are initiated, planned, and executed, as well as overall customer satisfaction.
4. How can I get executive stakeholders engaged in prioritizing company-wide projects?
It’s typical for any IT department to have several projects going on concurrently. This becomes extremely challenging when other departments frequently submit new “high priority” projects. Many times, stakeholders are not aware of projects in progress or how they impact teams or the business in general.
Creating a steering committee meeting will give executive stakeholders the opportunity to review and provide input into what teams should be working on based on their criteria for assessing the importance of the project. Once a project has met the criteria, the committee can use basic rankings (1, 2, 3) or a more in-depth rating scale for prioritization.
5. What’s the best project management software and does it really work?
I am frequently asked to recommend project management software. There are hundreds of software solutions on the market and many of them make claims about their value. But what works for one organization may not work for another.
I recommend documenting your “must have” and “nice to have” requirements and then research various tools based on these criteria. Ask for demos from the top 3 solutions that meet your requirements and choose one for a 30-day trial. This is the best way to ensure you find the best fit for your company—and one that can scale as the company grows.
One of my clients recently said: "Our new project management software streamlined processes, allowing management to produce accurate and reliable reports and enable the PMs to better manage projects—saving 7.5% of time each week”. That equals 156 hours a year or $15,600 in time savings! That’s time that can be devoted to your next project.
Have more questions or need guidance on improving project management in your organization? Feel free to drop us a line!
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