Have you ever wandered what it was like to juggle 50 items and conduct an orchestra at the same time? Well, being a project manager is just that. There are so many things flying around all at once, which make staying on top of everything a hassle at times.
Project managers are an essential part of any project large or small. Ethan James from Toptal writes in his post why having a Project manager is important. “There are so many different technologies out there, and new techniques are being devised at such an alarming rate that I never feel I’m completely on top of what’s going on. While every project has its unique challenges, there are some constants:
- The project has time pressure.
- The budget is smaller than I would like.
- I am a more expensive than the client would like.
- I do not listen as perfectly as the client would like.
- The client does not explain things as perfectly as I would like.
Clearly, we need a babysitter. Someone has to step in to establish the ground rules, keep everyone honest and make sure that we’re not forgetting anything important. Someone has to facilitate communication between all parties.”
Managing a project is no easy feat, and project managers are often faced with many headaches to go through in order to get to the finish line of each one. Often times, these headaches are unexpected and can put a project in danger if not handled correctly. Let’s take a look at three big headaches that project managers have, and what to do about them.
Headache #1 Project teams are being bogged down with side tasks from upper management.
Project managers are all too familiar with having to share team members with other project managers. This is normal and it happens all the time. Though where the real headaches come into play is when managers outside of the project circles start to ask tasks of certain employees (mainly your IT teams). For any new project managers out there allow me to paint a picture for you of how this comes about.
Director A has an issue with his computer for example, which happens quite a lot. Instead of going through the proper channels set in place to fix these kinds of problems. Director A knows that there is a guy from IT just down the hall. Even though this person from IT is not part of the IT team that handles these issues, director A decides to ask him to take a look. The IT employee agrees (maybe he has some free time) and fixes the issue.
Now is where things get complicated. More and more Director A is adding tasks to this IT team member who normally isn’t responsible for these issues, but is afraid to say no to a member of upper management. This IT person now has to handle the IT tasks of not only his team and Project manager, but now from this other Director A. Causing him to become quite the overwhelmed employee.
In the end, the most important tasks from this IT employee get more and more delayed causing his team to fall behind and affecting the project. Causing his/her project manager to have to butt heads with a director who may even be their boss.
When this happens, what can be done? Stepping on the toes of your boss just creates friction that could cause more headaches, but large delays caused by these resource issues could end up costing a project manager his or her job.
The Fix: Simply saying “stop” won’t work here. In any company, there is a need for everyone to follow the buisness processes set in place. When no one (including other managers or directors) follows the workflows, it creates unnecessary difficulties on everyone. The importance and effects of a strong workflow need to be actively communicated, many times upper management find themselves outside of the realm of needing to follow a workflow. Good data could be used to represent how well these processes work, in order to get everyone to stay in the workflow.
In a report from Eindhoven University of Technology they found that “(Goebl, Messner, Schwarzer, & Ag, 2001) elaborate on their experiences in introducing a workflow system in a large insurance company. The pilot project they conducted was successful: they achieved a 70% reduction of the overall execution time. This result was mainly achieved by introducing electronic data and automating the routing of tasks.”
>> Recommended reading: What is Risk Management: Staying on top of the Risks in your projects
Headache #2 Document management and sharing
The bigger the project the more documents are updated and passed around. A document that could be in your inbox may not be the most updated version. Files are stored in various computers / email inboxes of other team members. Does this situation sound familiar to you?
Projects are faced with this problem more often than they should be. Delays are constantly caused due to employees working with files that are not the most up to date, and mixing up which the most up to date file is. Getting all of the correct files together requires hours of sifting through emails, and the stress of going through other teams and looking for the most up to date stuff. Ultimately falling to the project manager having to find ways to get lost time back.
The main culprit here is emails. While back when emails came out it made production sky rocket, and file sharing was a cinch. But now it’s different employees take such a long time to respond to emails, making getting all of up to date files for a task quite the headache. Kevin Kimber from Forbes writes, “About 60% of employees say they will wait around two days before replying to an email, meaning under half of those emails have a chance of being actioned within a 48 hour period”
The Fix: All aboard the cloud era. The absolute best way to get all of your files in order and in one place is for the project manager to set up an area where teams can upload new files, and update old ones. Clouds such as Google Drive are great alternatives than to simply sending around thousands of emails to one another trying to stay on top of the fray.
In the cloud when a team member finishes his or her task all he need do now is alert their colleague that they are done, and point them in the direction of the most updated file for them to work with. Everyone has live access to the cloud and the project manager has ease of access to everything in one simple area.
Here is a small video showing how Google Drive works:
Headache #3 Wasting time following up, and changing task priorities
How is that task coming along? Is it done yet? I need you to work on something else. These are used all the time a project manager in order to stay in the loop, which is good, but is it too much? Project managers are dealt with the problem of needing to know what is being done and when it’s going to be done. However, with this problem it can often lead to not being able to do their own job.
Inside of this constant “back and fourth”, project managers need to readjust what the top priority of their teams should be. When priorities change, it is a huge task to go through each team and get them focused on the right area, soaking up so much time. This problem is only amplified when the projects are enormous and many priorities for many teams change a lot.
The Fix: What project managers need is a way that they can change a team’s priority without having to say a word, and on top of that a birds eye view of the entire project, who is doing what, and when tasks are scheduled to be done. Project managers need an online task manager. An online task manager like Runrun.it allows for managers to set time estimates on tasks and by using reports like Gantt chart, they can see when all of a team members tasks will be done. Meaning that they only need to follow-up if a task is falling behind schedule. Saving loads of time in the end.
>> Recommended test: Win/win/win, Using Conflict Management to Reduce Workplace Tension
Runrun.it the ultimate answer to all the headaches a project manager can have.
Let’s be honest there are innumerous headaches these days which project managers are faced with. The main source of these pains are usually caused by using out of date software and methods of getting work done. It’s time for an update!
Solving headaches with an online task manager
Are you still handling task management with hundreds of daily emails? This alone creates so many headaches that project managers are tired of dealing with. We’ve all heard the age old “I didn’t think you meant to do that today” or “Oh that email was for me?”. This all ends by putting a stop to using email or excel sheets for task management and adopting an online task manager like Runrun.it
File sharing and storing
With a task manager, you get the ability to share tasks right inside the tasks themselves, leaving no room for confusions or outdated files. After a big file batch is ready to send out, you don’t have to go outside the website to do so. Simply go into the file sharing section, upload all the files you wish to share, get the link to the page and send it off to stakeholders, upper management, or whomever you would like.
Runrun.it keeps workflows solid as a rock!
Workflows are great, they boost productivity but there are issues, as we touched on above some managers can sidestep the set processes and cause other team members to do tasks they are not supposed to be stuck with.
Runrun.it changes everything. By putting workflows onto a physical platform, not only can project managers get a better overview of the system. But, by breaking down the workflow and getting it physically installed into the running’s of the company, will stop other managers from simply sidestepping the workflows that everyone should be following, and instead have to go through the processes i.e. asking a team member’s manager if an additional task can be assigned.
Keep teams always up to date with the most current priorities
What to do next? What is the most important thing that I am supposed to do? Sometimes in the fray of all the tasks flying around it gets difficult to remember what is top priority in the task lists. Normally as managers if priorities change the only way to communicate this information is by sending various emails and taking into consideration the tasks of each and every team member, which in itself can be an impossible feat.
Runrun.it allows project managers to see the tasks lists of each of the team members and reorder the task list by priority, as it is needed. Therefore, saving massive amounts of time writing emails, fixing mistakes, and following up to make sure everyone understood the change. All you need do now in the Runrun.it program is enter into the employee’s task list you wish to change, and change the list of task priority. The team member will receive and email and that is all there is to it.
Everyone to whom this task was important will receive a notification of the change and work will continue as fluidly as ever. No longer will you as the manager have to go around and communicate all of the changes. The system does the legwork for you.
Runrun.it, the ultimate team collaboration tool.
Runrun.it is the tool of work management that generates and saves all kind of data on professionals performance. Therefore, a valuable repository for People Analytics. Besides that, the tool is able to automate paperwork from day to day and increase by 25% the productivity of professionals. Try it free now.