Can You Estimate Like Your Team Members?

 

Can You Estimate Like Your Team Members
Can You Estimate Like Your Team Members

Project managers have a certain notoriety with their teams. They push team members to reduce their estimates for work. Once an agreed upon estimate is reached, the PM pushes the team to beat the estimate.

If the estimate can’t be beaten, it certainly has to be met. And there will usually be hell to pay if the estimate can’t be met. Now the task is behind. Because there are dependencies for other tasks, the entire project may fall behind.

This of course is scandalous. Project plans need to be updated. Change requests need to be completed. Executives need to be notified. Team members can be made to think that a one-day delay on a task could bring the entire organization to its knees.
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Scheduling backwards to be on time

Scheduling backwards
Scheduling backwards

I’ve always wanted to get into the mind of people who are habitually late. As one who prides himself on promptness, I hate to be late. On the rare occasion that I am late, I’m very apologetic.

But people who are always late must be intentionally late. When they stroll in ten minutes late for a meeting, have they thought about how they’ve negatively affected the mood of the team? Did they have any consideration of the time of the other people who showed up on time only to wait for them?

I doubt it.

But there is another set of people who hate to be late, but still make a habit of being late. They know they have that meeting in ten minutes, but don’t stop to think about the documents they’ll need to gather for it, or the time it will take them to get to another floor or another building to get there on time.
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What Are We Trying to Accomplish?

What Are We Trying to Accomplish
What Are We Trying to Accomplish

Have you ever read an email and gotten upset, thinking the person was being offensive and rude? Then, when you bring it up to a coworker, expecting them to agree, they took the email in a whole different meaning.

Communication is hard. We don’t always say what we mean. We don’t always mean what we say. Putting things in the written word is even more difficult. Whether it is an email or a project charter, stating something in words that is clear and succinct is always challenging.

What are we trying to accomplish?

When a project manager develops a statement of work or a project charter, there is usually some summary information for the team. These documents generally state the purpose of the project, the expected deliverables, and at least a high-level timeline for the work to be completed.
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Managing Projects with Respect

Managing Projects with Respect
Managing Projects with Respect

Over the years I’ve written about many project management skills, techniques, and approaches. Project managers need to be organized. They need to be able to plan efficiently. Project managers need to be able to communicate and customize their communication for their specific audience.

The project manager needs to have many tools in her toolbox. One tool I haven’t written about is respect. Effective project managers know that treating others with respect is one of the key things that allows them to get things done.

Respect for team members

The project manager needs to have respect for the individual team members in many ways. She should respect their time. Team members generally work hard and it is important for them to be productive.
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Including all Stakeholders

Including all stakeholders
Including all stakeholders

In our project based organizations, we serve in uber-diverse workgroups. Not only are our team members from many different parts of the globe, they rarely all work for the same team.

An organization may start a project with a small group of internal staff members. That internal team may consist of a contractor or two to augment the staff. They then call in a consulting group to provide expertise and assistance. That firm may have a few contractors of their own.
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Process and Consistency – Not Always the Same

Process and Consistency
Process and Consistency – Not Always the Same

I once worked for a man that had a defined process for everything. He tracked everything with a spreadsheet. Everyone was expected to follow all of his processes to the letter. People became so bogged down following process that they got little else done.

It was also a drain on morale. They did so much mindless administrative work that their brains never really got a chance to create anything meaningful.
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Are You a Driver of Your Career or a Passenger?

driver of your career
Be a driver of your career

We’ve all heard of back seat drivers. They sit in the car and criticize the driver. They tell the driver when to turn, when to slow down, and when to speed up.

Not all passengers are like that. Some just sit back, close their eyes and nap through the ride. It is indicative of how we manager our careers. A driver is one who takes control. The driver of a car has to monitor how fast traffic is moving and adjust accordingly A good driver will look ahead to see if there is a slow down or an obstacle in the distance to be able to adjust before there is a problem.
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Failure to Execute – I’ve Got it All in My Head

Failure to execute
Failure to Execute

I have a friend who is a really good sales person. He is also very entrepreneurial. He has worked for other people for a number of years, but I’ve always been impressed by how he approaches his work like it is his own business. It shows commitment.

He has been talking for a long time about going out on his own. I have encouraged him. He has such a deep knowledge of his industry and a lot of innovative ideas that could help people in it.

But for years, he has talked about how he has everything in his head. “I’ve got all these ideas. I just need to get it down on paper.”
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6 Steps for Effective Project Communication

Effective Project Communication
Effective Project Communication

How could he not understand what we’re doing? I couldn’t have made it more clearly to him.

That feeling has probably gone through every project manager’s mind at one time or another. You have developed what seems like an easy concept in your mind. You quickly relay that information to someone else. Maybe they didn’t understand it as well as they thought they did. Perhaps they weren’t listening. Maybe they just didn’t care.

I experienced it once on a project that I managed. I felt I had a good rapport with the key business stakeholder. The project started out very open ended. The client had many initiatives that they wanted to accomplish. Part of our job was to help them prioritize things. We worked closely with them and narrowed it down to a category of tasks. We then discussed those tasks and brought it down to three primary initiatives that we wanted to accomplish in our three-month project.
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5 Ways to Align IT with the Business

Align IT with the Business
5 Ways to Align IT with the Business

Looking back at every project in which I’ve been involved, I’ve seen successes and failures. There are many reasons for each outcome. But I believe the reason with the most correlation is business alignment.

To align IT with the business is one of the most critical aspects of a project, and perhaps the most difficult thing to do. So how do you align it with the business in the face of such difficulty?

Do your homework

IT people tend to know IT. I know, it’s strange. But we all have our comfort zones and that’s what we focus on. Many business people are the same with business. When it comes to IT, they don’t know it. That’s somebody else’s job.
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101 Tips for Success in Project Management