Friday, 9 January 2015

Back to basics: controlling your digital projects

Moan, moan, moan. Yes, it’s the January blues time and the last thing you and your team may want to hear is ‘back to basics’! It’s a nasty fact though that a festive break allows time not just for you and your team to recharge your think-tanks but for your clients and stakeholders to recharge theirs also. We know what that means – lots of new ideas and changes suggested to the project! Changes mean disruption to time, cost and quality. Panic is allowed – quietly. You have put in the controls, haven’t you? It’s time to remind all that changes and even improvements are possible but at a new schedule and cost.

Estimating any time implications and therefore costs of changes is always problematic. But Ben Aston gives a really good tip about ‘question when questioning’, meaning that when your team members come back to you with an estimate about what the changes will cost, you question them as to how they reached that figure. Together you’ll find that you revise the figure to be more accurate by recognising where some gaps in thinking have occurred. This is good training for your team member and yourself because both of you will work in the refining process and learn along the way from each other. You’ll find Ben’s other tips useful too.

See Ben Aston’s, Creating timing plans: a summary (December 12 2014)

Paul Spencer has a down-to-earth approach to project management. His tips may not be specific to digital projects but common sense is common sense. The tip I like best is a reminder that defining the scope of a project is not just about what you will achieve but also what you will not do. That’s equally important to define or your clients will push the boundaries quite happily at your expense. If you want a humourous motivator for an individual team member, or, just yourself, take a look at his animation at the Digital Doctorate for Bristol Graduate school. It’s about moving a vision or an idea to fruition which is like taking a digital project through its cycle.

And, in the spirit of New Year and being positive, what about championing yourself and your fellow digital project managers. It is true that few appreciate the difference you really make to projects. You do have skills and expertise that set you apart from the others in the team. Many of them really wouldn’t want your role even though they might moan about you – openly or not!

If you feel your role isn’t appreciated spread a little of Paul Boag’s Be proud of your digital project managers’ around. Do you agree that there should be a Digital Project Manager of the Year award as an incentive for people to recognise your value? What else would you suggest?

Happy New Year.