Crash Course into addressing Project Management @ DRI

Crash Course Project Management

Project Management is all about challenges!

Yes, the challenges are many and quite varied, and are set and influenced by so many variables that it gets quite hard to enumerate all of them without writing an extensive essay.

Yet, when moving to a new company, the first challenge that a PM encounters, even prior to getting your hands on a brand new project, is getting to know the company’s culture, its assets, its tools and obviously, its people.

So moving from a very hierarchized, formatted, strict company into a more “flat”, opinionated and informal company can provide a senior PM with a whole new and quite motivational challenge. If the foundations and especially the mechanization of hierarchy are different, and if you keep in mind that it is people that make projects happen and progress, then it becomes quite important that the first steps you take into tackling a new project in this Company is to know how to place yourself in the team, and ultimately, how to deal with the company’s team mindset while maintaining the rigor and assertiveness that a project needs in order to succeed.

Project Management is all about People!

-Wait! Wasn’t it all about challenges?
Yes, and isn’t it dealing with people the best challenge there is in project management?!

It is a known fact that 80% of the work for a PM is communication related. And in a company that mostly works in-house, it is natural that an overwhelming majority of that percentage is used within the team. And so that is where the PM is first challenged to show his skills: of environmental understanding, of focusing on the best paths to achieve the project goals, and on balancing all of the above with the correct use of his “soft skills”!

You see, in a company with the sort of mindset and culture as DRI, motivational themes are not usually the issue. People tend to be quite motivated already.

-So what is the challenge?
Easy: the challenge is to learn how to effectively apply project control tools and techniques to, not only keep the project within scope, time and cost, but be able to focus a highly motivated, creative, free thinking and skilled team on the project plan. It gets easy to have them focused on the objective, the technology and the tasks, but not as much on the timings, tight scope and cost.
So, summing the parts, an early profiling of the team is the best way to understand how to best use the soft skills. And the soft skills must be a tool to conquer the attention and focus of the team while getting yourself in, so that starting from there one can securely and smoothly impose a methodology and a contained control over an overtly creative team.  Get them to start nurturing project tools and, almost unconsciously, get them into the flow of project control.

Project Management is all about Responsibility!

-Oh, I’m getting confused here!
No confusion whatsoever!...
Responsibility and Professionalism are not at all hard to encounter here, even if disguised behind the veil of informality. Perhaps what one needs to often recall in that sort of informal environment and within a young, creative, enthusiastic team, is that, despite all, the Company feeds on projects. And projects always have a goal, a scope, a tight budget and a strict timing!

Make everything very clear from the start. Get the team to know exactly what are the objectives; get them to know what tools must be used for project control and why they MUST be used correctly in a daily basis; get them to understand the budget, the timings and the exact scope, let them know all the exact flight instructions…and then grant them wings to fly!

And with time one can start to emphasize the team spirit, leading them into working as a sole, well-oiled and interactive machine, so that it becomes unstoppable, and then allowing space for it to improve from within, by empowering team members and giving them the responsibility to deliver, but also the credits for success.

As I see it, this is the road to accomplishment.

My mote is, therefore, lead by example, always striving for the highest degree of honesty (read Andrea’s excellent blog article on this subject), while potentiating the skills and the working capabilities of each team member. Trying to direct and align them into the best path for project success.

These dynamics, when spirited with each member unique and individual inputs, driven to work together for a common goal, are the most precious marrow to success. And achieving these dynamics is any PM nirvana, for sure.

So there you have it! Having been in this Company for less than a month now, this is the challenge I impose myself from the very start.

Paraphrasing Barney from the TV series How I met your Mother: Challenge Accepted!

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