I am not a project manager (and I don’t play one on TV, either). But I do work closely with PMs and have picked up some of their secrets. Unfortunately these aren’t juicy, salacious secrets, but they do offer some good insight for engineers, administrative team members, and clients alike.
1. Communication is Key: Good project management relies on communication. PMs often play the vital role of liaisons between the customer and the team, and serve as the voice for all parties. One silent player and the whole project can go down like dominoes.
2. Organization, Organization, Organization: Write it on paper, type it on a computer, draw it in crayons, whatever works. Meeting notes, budget lists, contact names, deliverable schedules—they all have to exist somewhere locatable and reference-able. That’s why the Avanceon team is a little obsessed with SharePoint. A live, structured home for all project data, organized and consistent. SharePoint project sites are constantly evolving during the lifespan of a project and are regularly audited through project completion.
3. See the Big Picture: I think anyone who can repeatedly solve a Rubik’s Cube would make a great PM. You have to see where each row aligns, how moving one piece will affect others, and have one (often concrete) solution in mind. There’s no fixed way to complete the puzzle (though changing the colored stickers is probably the wrong way), and sometimes you have to get creative. But a good PM solves it every time.
4. Speak Up: PMs should be willing to stop the line (an apropos reference for the manufacturing industry!). If something crucial isn’t going as planned, good project managers stop and address issues before they snowball. This interruption benefits all sides and often prevents bigger delays.
PMs see projects from inception to completion, every aspect from the technical to the financial. They juggle scheduling, change orders and estimates, manage expectations and communication about all of the above. It’s not an easy feat. Keep this in mind for your next project, and maybe give your PM a hug now that you realize all that they do!