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Putting Your Project Plan to Work –

There are Good Project Managers and there are Great Project Managers.  How do you tell the difference?  A Good PM manages to pull out a win.  You’re not sure how they do it.  Despite the fact they took a few shortcuts, they usually cross the finish line sweating and puffing and breathing a big sigh of relief.  A Great PM, on the other hand, seems to remain calm and cool, and works from a project plan.  He always knows what’s coming and coasts to an easy victory with a confident team, refreshed and dry.  How do you become a GREAT PM?

First of all, every PM has his or her set of tools, their own style, and their Type A personality!  Good PMs and Great PMs all follow a project plan.  They both believe in scope.  They both have tools that are available to help them with their management.  However, what sets Good apart from Great is in HOW they use those tools – and more importantly, how they use their project plan.  Great PMs use a 3 Week View.

3 Week View

What’s a 3 Week View?  It’s a very simple concept of looking at all tasks that are underway OR starting within the next 3 weeks.  The value is that everyone can begin to plan for tasks STARTING soon, and not just focus on those that are DUE soon.

A Tale of Two PMs

The best way to show the difference is in this exchange between a PM and a Team Lead.  It will show the difference between a GOOD PM, only monitoring end dates, versus a GREAT PM, who also monitors start dates.

Good PM: “Bob, did you complete task 185? It’s due today.”

Bob the Team Lead: “Not even close.  Vendor wouldn’t answer my questions, Radiology didn’t e-mail me back like they were supposed to, and Jan was out sick for two days.  I need another two weeks.”

Good PM: “Oh no!  We needed that done!  Now we’re going to have to tell Training to hold off until you get this finished.”


Great PM: “Bob, task 185 is starting next week and due in 5 weeks.  Tell me what your plans are and whether you foresee any risks to hitting that date.”

Bob the Team Lead: “Glad you reminded me.  I think I’ve got it under control, but I’ve got a number of questions for the Vendor and I’m going to need our Radiology Liaison to lend a hand next week.”

Great PM: “I’ll put in a call to the Vendor and make sure they know the importance of your questions, and I’ll inform the Radiology Director to clear the Liaison’s calendar for next week.  Hey, and let’s do lunch around noon today.”

It Makes a Difference

See the drastic difference between the two styles in both these cases?  As PMs, you have tools to help you.  How you choose to use those tools will make the difference between you being a Good PM or a Great PM. By using a 3 Week View, a PM can get his team focused on planning instead of scrambling

Author: Bill Arnold
Bill serves as the President of Atlanticon since June of 2000.  He has managed many successful EHR projects and, along with his team, has developed a unique PM methodology based on common sense principles.  This methodology has been compiled into several of Atlanticon’s service lines, including Project Coaching™.

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