Putting Your Project Plan to Work
There are “good” project managers and then there are “great” project managers. How can you tell the difference? A good project manager just manages to pull out a win. You’re not sure how they do it; despite the fact they took a few shortcuts, they usually manage to cross the finish line sweating bullets and breathing a heavy sigh of relief. A great project manager, on the other hand, knows how to remain calm, cool, and collected; great project managers always have a project plan. They stay prepared at all times, always knowing what’s coming their way – hurdles that must be jumped and bridges that need crossed. They are frequently able to coast toward an easy victory with a confident team, refreshed and ready for the next project.
How Can You Become a Great Project Manager?
Every project manager has his or her own unique set of tools; their own personal style and distinct personality. Good project managers and great project managers both follow a project plan; they both believe in scope; they both have tools that are available to help them with their management. So, what distinguishes the good from the great? It all comes down to HOW they use those tools and HOW they use their project plan. Great project managers use a 3-Week View.
Understanding the 3-Week View
What’s a 3-Week View, you ask? It’s a very simple concept that involves looking at all tasks that are underway or starting within the next three weeks. Most project managers focus on the tasks that are due now. By using Atlanticon’s 3-Week View concept, the project manager focuses on tasks that will be starting in the upcoming weeks. They stay in a proactive mode, instead of reactive. By only focusing on current due dates, a project manager will often show up at the scene too late to resolve issues, therefore resulting in project delays and unnecessary stress. Choosing to focus alternatively on tasks that are about to start enables the proper space for the planning and removal of roadblocks, reducing and sometimes eliminating “delay” situations altogether.
A Tale of Two PMs
The best way to show the difference is through example. In this exchange between a project manager and a team lead, you’ll see the difference between a good PM (only monitoring DUE dates) versus a great PM (who also monitors START dates).
Good PM: “Bob, did you complete task 185? It’s due today.”
Bob: “Not even close. The 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! This is going to put us behind with training!”
Great PM: “Bob, task 185 is starting next week and due in five weeks. Tell me what your plans are and whether you foresee any risks to hitting that date.”
Bob: “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 schedule a call with 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.”
Success or failure for any project boils down to how well you plan for unforeseen setbacks.
Your Approach Does Make a Difference.
See the drastic difference between the two styles in both scenarios? As a PM, you have the tools to help you. How you choose to use those tools will make the difference between being a good project manager versus a great project manager. By using a 3-Week View, a PM can get his or her team focused on proactive planning instead of reactive scrambling.