Worldwide principles

Project Management - A journey

Call To Travel — May 2018

Project complexity has become a major challenge for those responsible for delivering. But let’s start there, who is responsible for delivering a successful project?

The answer is simple: PEOPLE – from project teams, client and other vendors. All involved and committed to achieving goals.

You can find several books referring to company’s culture, stakeholder management, planning, scope and the roles of people as Critical Success Factors (CSF) to reach the success. However, we can have all those aspects properly managed but if you do not have a Client, a Team and 3rd Parties working together as partners towards a common goal, everything will be so much more difficult.

It is important to highlight that combining these three entities (Team, Client and 3rd Parties) is a challenge for Project Managers. It requires maturity and focus on People and Processes. Nevertheless, it must always be a priority.

Starting with the Client… How do we get that partnership?

Clients always have their specificities. Listen, listen, listen. In most situations, clients share, question discuss. And in those situations, if we aren’t listening and we aren’t providing a way forward, we’re not adding value.

Why should customers request our support if we do not help them to solve their problems?

Teams must be professional, polite, accurate, comprehensive, positive, and supportive, giving a way to overcome the obstacles. Project Managers must adapt, mold, question working models to meet the project’s goals.

We don't always need to say YES. All we need is to say NO with facts supported by a middle-ground proposal in favor of commons goals.

Onsite presence helps reinforce relationships and works anticipation, avoiding issues that otherwise may escalate and create disruption that may weaken the relationship.

Stay happy and keep a positive attitude.

Take care of the team… How do we gain proximity?

Thing about people that belong to the project and their roles/objectives. Managers and Team Leaders must know exactly what team members do and what their goals and motivations are.

There are a couple of critical aspects that a Project Manager must consider and pay attention to:

  • Transparency - tell the true in a frank, direct and blunt way. Hidden facts do not help overcome problems;
  • Belonging and Objectivity - adjust your pitch and have natural conversations with people, sharing a positive or negative message clearly. Ask for their involvement and concrete results. Agree on delivery dates and let people decide. Don’t forget they are adults and they must know their responsibilities;
  • Positive (inside and outside environment) - if Project Management doesn’t believe the strategy in place will be successful, it will be much more difficult to have everyone aboard;
  • Celebrate – a project lifecycle has several milestones. Each step is important. Don’t wait for the end to celebrate;
  • Mutual Feedback - giving constant and direct feedback is a powerful “tool” that is not used often. Take all the opportunities to develop your team and each person in particular. Accept Feedback by asking for opinions and ideas. It gives you the opportunity to improve and grow, creates empathy and allows everyone to be part of the solution;
  • Recognition - be aware of what everyone is doing. There are amazing performances that we “discard” and do not congratulate;
  • Lead by example - Project Managers must be professional. Learn from experience and think ahead, demonstrating quality and responsibility;
  • Provide all necessary conditions - facilities, accompaniment and time so the team can execute their work properly;
  • Reliable - build a strategy, share it and if you really believe it, defend it. That resilience will not only build respect from the Customer but also from the Team. Changing a strategy every week leads to repetition and frustration.

All these aspects seem simple. However, sometimes putting them in place is more difficult. We must be willing to think about people and what/how to do in each circumstance.

This isn’t trivial; each person has their personality, skills to develop and dreams to achieve.

Take care of 3rd Parties… Why?

It’s important to remember that 3rd parties, e.g., vendors highly influence our success.

In Project Management it is important to understand 3rd parties’ role and create a healthy relationship. For the most part, their success influences ours.

Different workplaces with different time zones don’t help? Why?

It is true that there are moments that having people spread across different cities and countries bring difficulties in managing team’s daily work, mainly due to the miscommunication that distance may cause. It’s important for Project Managers to be ready and aware of several occurrences, for example:

  • High volume of meetings. Challenge people to attend the real useful meetings. It is relevant, especially due to time zone difference that may cause overtime;
  • Regular status. Share the agenda and request simple contents to be prepared to push people to think about the topics in advance and be more accurate. Follow up on those topics;
  • When travelling, unless you go for a very specific mission, don’t just sit there. Visit and talk to the customer. There is always something relevant to discuss;
  • For most international projects availability to travel is a requirement. All team members must be aware of the possibility and be ready for it . Nevertheless, it is important to be sensible and to understand that there are personal appointments that may block some travels;
  • Give responsibility and let people make decisions;
  • Quality in the processes. Think about the processes efficiency and setup and test, and you will avoid several discussions that do not bring any added value.

There are positive aspects of working in different sites that Managers may use to take advantages of project deliveries and motivate people. E.g.: due to time zone difference it is possible to anticipate deployments with critical issues for the next day in order do not block testing teams; or to have relaxed moments getting close to people and understand their concerns. It helps to promote a good environment among all teams to create a real Team Work spirit.

But what makes the real difference in Project Management?

To summarize, everyone has an important role- everyone is important. Project Managers must worry about the Team, Client and 3rd Parties. Common goals and mutual support between parties are keys factors for success.

Project Manager must value Honesty, Fairness and Professionalism, provide regular feedback,coach, guarantee quality in the processes and motivate people.

Be Natural, Yourself and demonstrate Happiness.

3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage... all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ....into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films... = a trip of a lifetime.