Oct 2010 21

The 80-20 Project Manager


Posted October 21, 2010 by |  

Lately, I’ve been working on web projects in which I have acted as both a contributor and project manager. Although I enjoy these projects for the variety they provide, the time constraints of being a part time project manager can be a real challenge.

One thing is for sure, being a part time PM certainly helps you to focus on the important aspects of project management.

Using the 80-20 rule, I’ve found there are 3 activities, above all others, that provide the most leverage for an “80-20 project manager” - a project manager who must judiciously use their strictly limited time during the execution phase of a project.

1. Facilitate communication

We all know the importance of communication – both within the project team and externally with customers, management and other stakeholders. Open, honest and effective communication is the lifeblood of small and large projects alike.

After all, all projects are conversations.

An 80-20 project manager will get good value from implementing processes and tools that keep communication channels wide open - and swiftly addressing instances of communication breakdown.

2. Track progress

Try as I might, I’m yet to achieve project utopia where all participants consistently and accurately record their own progress - whether it be recording time spent or updating task status. This is despite trialing numerous collaborative tools that promise to make this process easier.

Although tracking project progress provides least leverage for an 80-20 project manager, it is arguably the most important task. Not of itself of course, but when accurate tracking is used to spot variation against the project plan and steps are taken to get the project back on track.

3. Remove blocks

Here’s the biggy.

If I had to choose one activity to spend the majority of my time on as an 80-20 project manager it would be this. I’d choose to actively hunt for opportunities to serve the project team by helping to remove blocks.

I’ve seen so much time wasted by project team members who hit a technical problem, a project dependency issue or some other block and are simply unable to efficiently break through it. Here’s where a savvy 80-20 project manager will step in to assist - both by helping to remove the block and, if necessary, working with the team member to identify other tasks they can focus on until the block is removed.

So, there you have it - my top 3 activities for the 80-20 project manager. Have I missed any?


Last modified by Nathan Curtis on Jul 2, 03:40 PM | Back to top

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