Digital Project Management Summit Notes

Brett Harned


Be a Better PM

Perception that some PMs aren’t as good as they could be.

On Being Better:

  1. Ask questions
    • Don’t feel annoying
    • Brett’s First question: what’s the deadline
      • Happy Cog (HC) starts with stakeholder interviews – PM there to take notes (driven by non-PMs?)
    • Don’t feel responsible for responding to all the client’s questions – you’re not superman, you may need to ask someone else
  2. Learn from your mistakes
    • Everyone has made mistakes, talk about them and learn from them
    • Conduct a post mortem/retro/etc. meeting (Brett thinks HC doesn’t do them as often as they should)
      • What worked, what didn’t
      • Draft convo guidline
      • Then, hold meeting (no finger pointing, look for action items (someone who wasn’t involved may take notes, moderate), accept and discuss all opinions)
  3. Be patient
    • Life happens
    • Work with your company and team to make things smooth
  4. Set expectations
    • Understand your scope – don’t start without signed scope, budget, payment
    • Lock down your timeline
    • Establish roles (if you have a small team with hybrids, define roles; RACI matrix)
  5. Be a cheerleader – show you care about your team, your client, their project, etc.
  6. Know your craft – Not just what the company thinks you should do but what value do you think you can bring
    • Study your methodology (#agifail)
    • Learn company procedures
    • Practice using the right tools (I love/hate Attask)
      • Spend time with the tool and figure out how to use it better, make it pretty, etc.
    • Hone your people skills – be nice, listen, be respectful
  7. Don’t ignore difficult conversations – Handle it head on! Feel good afterwards
  8. Own your calendar (I heard snickers)
    • You don’t have to go to every meeting (Brett said so)
    • If there’s no agenda definitely decline it (always create an agenda first)
  9. Own your process
    • Plan it, go through it with the team, let them know the client is going to see it and it won’t change later (then the client changes it)
  10. Share everything
    • Let your team know what’s going on with the client
    • Share almost everything – unless it might hurt someone
  11. Bring snacks
  12. Vent (to the right people) – if the team feels a little bit of negativity they may not work as hard; find someone off the team)
  13. Have fun – with your client and your team
    • @deruchiaward
  14. Practice saying no – don’t agree to everything then do a poor job
  15. Proofread everything
  16. Be concise – in emails, also pass on to someone to check length and tone
  17. Take good notes ( has a class)
    • Urge team to take notes too about what will matter to them later
    • You can also remind client that you discussed not QAing in IE7
  18. Facilitate useful feedback – what level of collaboration do you want with clients; train and help them to give valuable feedback
  19. Conduct status
    • Holds everyone accountable for what they’re working on;
    • Client status calls also
      • Let’s them know you’re actively managing the project
      • Demonstrates value of PM
    • See What’s Important image
  20. Follow up (and maybe follow up with a different person if you’re not getting what you need; notify your main contact though)
  21. Understand what it takes
    • Learn from your peers
  22. Be a jerk (when you have to)
    • If client is late to meeting you’ll have to cancel meeting; if client doesn’t sign off you’re not moving on
  23. Keep calm
    • Take the time you need
    • Don’t take everything personally
    • It’s okay to make mistakes – don’t cover them up, own up
    • Keep perspective (unless it’s a healthcare site/software)
  24. Stay informed – not just PM stuff, but design/development/technology too
  25. Be proud of your role – Fly your PM flag!

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