What is the top challenge for Project Managers nowadays? and what is the best way to deal with? (Philip)
Why is there a mismatch between your invoice and the time expenditure reported in your latest status report…? This is one of the dreaded questions for a busy Project Manager, since it can lead to hours of tedious backtracking efforts in order to find the error. In essence hours wasted, in soulless non-value building work.
One of the major challenges for today’s Project Managers is collecting, keeping track of and ensuring that all information related to the projects they are managing are correct and up to date. Think about it; a Project Manager might be managing one large project (+15 stakeholders) or several smaller projects. For each project it is the responsibility of the Project Manager to be able to follow up and report on project progress, time spent, budget, KPI’s, milestones and so on. The majority of this data are to be reported into different systems by different stakeholders, and afterwards reported out towards other stakeholders.
In some instances, the stakeholders have specific requirements towards tools and systems for reporting the information (e.g. many enterprises have their own time-reporting/invoicing systems for external consultants to use, while these consultants also are obligated to report the same information into their employers’ own systems). On top of this Project Steering Groups and Committees have their own unique requirements for what information they want reported on a weekly/monthly basis, as well as how they want it reported. Any experienced Project Manager knows this challenge and can easily provide many more examples.
The real challenge here is; is the role of a modern Project Manager to be a data-administrator, or to be the key assembling figure in a project, in constant dialogue with project stakeholders, and paving the way for project progress and success, by removing roadblocks and aligning expectations? The answer is obvious.
So, in order to ensure that the focus is on not becoming a data-administrator, the Project Manager must do the following:
- Align expectations for data reporting requirements towards the Project Sponsor, prior to the project being initiated, or as soon as possible.
- Provide ready-made and proven templates on systems, backlog management tools, time reporting, invoicing, status reports etc. The more you provide up-front; the less new requirements will come from (… or be invented by) other stakeholders.
- Be tough on data requirements early on. Do we really need this data, and why? Are some kinds of data actually duplicates? When do we need the data, and how often?
- Be clever on the use of many systems/tools for “double reporting”. Instead of reporting the same piece of data in one, two or three systems, have it reported in one system, and export from there to the other systems.
- Share the data-administrator challenge with your project team (and other relevant stakeholders), so that they know the why’s and become part of the solution.
In a perfect world there would be one single system, collecting all the right information automatically, controlling the validity of the data and then reporting it in a beautiful and easy-to-understand format to relevant stakeholders. So far, this system doesn’t exist – especially not across companies.
While we wait for the one magic and simple system that fits needs and requirements to come, we will need to be smart about managing our projects. Nevertheless, a lot of software is already on the market, helping in unifying and integrating different tools, accommodating the different needs of the different stakeholders across companies, roles and technologies. I know that the technological and know-how space my own company is in, have improved immensely lately, and I also know that even greater technology is coming to the market right now. This enables us to focus on providing actual value to all projects, all the time.
Published at pmmagazine.net with the consent of Philip Bronsztejn