Project management, well that's just making lists, isn't it?

Posted by Peter Aitken
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The life of the project manager is a complex one. They spend their working lives juggling projects, clients, tasks, timelines, timesheets, resources, budgets, invoices and team morale.

It's not an easy role, managing and prioritising all of those things successfully across multiple large scale projects, but it is a vital one! As a manager of Project Managers, I have to ensure my team receives the continued support they need to stay on top of all of their projects. Here at Netcel we've put a number of internal initiatives in place that help me to achieve this.

For example, we constantly review our key systems to ensure they provide the right amount of structure and visibility internally and externally to allow us to successfully manage multiple teams on multiple streams of work. Our core systems currently include Microsoft Team Services, Basecamp, Zendesk and Salesforce, but this evolves continually as new and better solutions are assessed and implemented.

It's important to note that none of the systems would work successfully without a robust process and at Netcel we continue to assess and develop our processes in line with new developments in project methodology and client evolution. It's really exciting to see how our process has changed in the last few years. It used to be waterfall based but has become more agile focused, as client and business understanding, and appreciation of the benefits, has increased.

Clients have come to understand that there will always be an element of change in any project and that it is better to embrace this and collaborate with Netcel to achieve the best outcome for their project. Yes, there will always be a certain level of feasibility and foundation work to do on any project, regardless of the methodology used, but with agile everyone understands this should only be what is necessary to proceed and not just documentation for the sake of it.

Working with a client on an agile basis enables them to be more engaged in the entire project, feeding into decision-making at every sprint planning phase. Setting client expectations and clear reporting is key for any project and we do find agile naturally creates transparency and timely communication.

However, some clients prefer to follow more of a waterfall process and in those cases we use our detailed understanding of both types of methodologies to ensure there is greater visibility of progress throughout the project, outside of the standard client reviews and more formal change control discussions, than is usually expected from a project delivered using waterfall.

No doubt in a year's time all of these areas will have evolved as our healthy collaborative client relationships enable us to find ways to strengthen our processes even further.

So whilst my team do "make lists", I shall continue to work with them to ensure that there is a robust and scalable set of systems and processes in place to allow them to do their jobs to the highest possible standard for success.