Project Management Philosophies

May 29, 2017 22:43 · 790 words · 4 minutes read philosophy project management howto

I pride myself in being a technically oriented individual. I love solving problems, moreso interesting ones. I love learning new(technical) things. I am basically this dude:

Nerd Sniping [credits: xkcd comics]

I’ve recently come to appreciate the huge role good management plays in executing projects. I used to think that management is sort of “evil”; I still do think that (overly) bureaucratic management is evil. Fortunately for me today, my older brother was sharing some things which I have found quite important. I figure I’ll adopt this in my future workflows.

First off, you need to have a plan for everything you do. Without a plan, you will not do anything, and worse still, not be aware that you are not doing anything. A huge pitfall needs to be avoided here though, that is: you should not spend all your valuable time making a plan. Your plan should have deadlines set and goals in mind. If set goals are not met, you should be able to document why your plan failed or any hurdles you faced. I’ll talk more on this- documentation- later.

In addition to planning your work, you also need to set and define processes for your various workflows. Said processes are not set in stone; They will evolve into something else after much iteration and changing in due time. Regardless, you should have a process set for how you do your work. Having a process will improve workflow in your organisation because when new people come in, they will adapt more quickly to how your organisation does their work or even better yet, improve already existing processes. With time, you might adapt and make working processes more main stream in your workflow and dump processes that do not work.

Now that we’ve talked about how processes work, you need to understand that processes evolve. You might begin a project with plan A and later realize that plan A does not just cut it. Perhaps you need to change some things regarding how you execute your tasks or how you deal with people. In order to “evolve” processes, you should already have some pre-existing process set in place.

An important aspect in most of the work I do is documentation. I version control most of my life, from my finances(using the awesome ledger CLI and org-mode!) to my own personal projects. Same should be done in management. Put down stuff that does not work. Recently, I worked with someone who was not very conversant with front-end web dev things. I spent nearly a week trying to figure out why stuff was not working well on his end(despite running tests using phantomjs for nearly every goddamn screen resolution!) Turned out said person had not cleared his cache. In this case, I should have documented this. Perhaps later when I was reviewing this with my team, I would figure a work around for such a blunder on his part and avoid wasting so much time. In my case, my solution was a screencast. If sharing a screencast appears to be rude(and I’m made aware of this), I’d then have to think of something better! Documenting your work, problems, hurdles and anything relevant to the project is important. As with all documentation, yours should be clear, informative and brief.

A problem my brother and most of my friends occasionally face at their work places is overwork. Here’s the thing, do not expect your work mates to work and give you 200% all the time. That’s just inhumane. Change the deadlines or whatever it is you have to do. Do not overwork your people. If you are in such a scenario, it might be wise to first raise this issue with management. If that does not help, start looking for somewhere else to work(if possible); Otherwise, burn out.

Finally, track your progress and performance goals via a Key Performance Index(KPI). You should do this on a regular basis. Some organisations do this on a quarterly basis, others on a monthly basis. The set intervals should be long enough to allow you to work through your set goals at a reasonable pace and short enough to enable you to set or adapt already existing goals. A simple way to maintain a KPI is to set goals and objectives for each member of the team. This should be discussed within the team. A standard practice is to have the evaluators of the KPI be the individual who set the goal and the supervisor. A decent goal of any organisation is to maintain an acceptable KPI for each member of the team.

In summary, I’ve talked about decent practices to do when working in projects. You can also apply some of this stuff in your personal life.