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3 Lessons from 4 Months of Project Management

December 30, 2015

As the first of January heralds in 2016, I’ll be hitting my 4-month mark here at Status Not Quo. While I’ve worked in team environments before and I’ve been responsible for bringing projects to completion, this is the first time I’ve officially donned the title of Project Manager. I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that the last 4 months have been much like an accelerated learning program—and today, I’ll share 3 of the biggest takeaways thus far.

1. Don’t Get Comfortable
If you’ve ever talked to someone about what it’s like to work on a small development team, chances are they’ve talked to you about how many hats they wear. This expression is much more about function than fashion, as the hats they’re talking about represent the different roles a team member must fulfill to carry a project to completion while drawing from limited personnel. Chances are, if you ask this hat-happy person what their title is, they’ll respond with, ‘producer,’ ‘project manager,’ or something else along those lines.

manyhats

In my 4 months here at SNQ, there’s rarely a day I don’t take on a task that requires a new set of skills. Yes, it takes some extra effort, but it’s also what makes my role appealing to me and what makes me appealing to the role. Adaptability and willingness are two exceptionally important pieces of project management.

2. Accountability is Paramount
So far, I’ve noticed a very simple, important theme: When individuals take clear ownership over tasks, good things happen. That being said, it’s equally important to recognize that accountability isn’t about knowing where to put blame, it’s about knowing who to go to for solving specific problems.

This concept doesn’t just apply to the developers who are actually building things. Every member of the team, from top to bottom, needs to be responsible for whatever they’re working on, whether this is scheduling, programming, QA, or anything else. When issues overlap or dependencies arise, there’s nothing better than knowing exactly who to go to for answers.

3. Eyes Up, Solider.
This last lesson is applicable to everyone, but it’s doubly important for project management. The end of each day should involve looking at what’s in store for, at the very least, tomorrow. While switching off at the end of a shift and enjoying some downtime is undeniably important, being aware of what’s in your immediate future allows you to passively plan.

Surprises are best reserved for birthday parties—look as far down the road as you can without losing focus on the here and now. Iron out kinks before they crop up and be ready to create detours that you know will ultimately reconnect with the freeway to the finish line.

 

These three lessons are just the broad strokes of project management; there’s a veritable ton of expertise left to gain and skills to sharpen. As we move into 2016, I’m excited for the lessons I’m sure to pick up along the pathway of completing great projects.

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