In previous blog posts we talked about how projects can go off the rails and also how to prevent them from going off the rails. But those only apply if you are actively involved in the project. If you have Project Managers who report to you, what should you be looking for to know when their / your project is having trouble.
The big “E” on any Project Management eye chart is always whether the project is on time and on budget. The other issues tend to revolve around team chemistry, managing team engagement and holding the team leader accountable. If you think that the project manager isn’t giving you the full status, ask for the next level of detail on tasks that should be completed. If you include slack in your schedule, ask for how much of the slack is used. If you can spend an hour with your manager, have them lay out the full project schedule and ask them to show you where they are.
Here are some additional items to watch for.
Is the Team Energized or Struggling?
When you meet with team members there are clear issues to look for. The best indicator is whether they are interested and excited to be working on the project. When a project is being managed well, the team should be excited to work on something this big, this important and with people so talented. This is true for any good team, whether a medical device project team, sports team or music group. They should enjoy working together and the outward messaging from the team is “enthusiasm”.
The project buy-in?
Another good barometer for this is whether they buy into the project. Do the team members believe it will be done on time and on budget? Or do they second guess other team members or the Project Manager? The sense of team cohesion will reveal a great deal about the health of the project.
Third on the health of the team centers around communication: Do they hide issues or work through them honestly? When you have a well-run team, there should be a balance of respect for each other as team members but also a commitment to intellectual honesty to fight for positions they believe are valuable. There will be issues to deal with: working through them respectfully and honestly demonstrates team health. The opposite would be refusing to discuss issues in team meetings and instead gossiping and complaining outside of the structure.
Team members time commitment
Fourth, it is important to ask how many hours a week the team members work. If you have team members who are burning the candle at both ends on a project, working nights and weekends, the team is poorly managed and you risk burning out quality talent. Often the people who are willing to work too many hours are people most vital to the project or who have embraced a level of responsibility not healthy for the good of the project.
What does the Project Manager need to prove on a regular basis?
Your Project Manager needs to be held accountable just as much as their team members are. We start with the big E: Is the project on time and on budget? The Project Manager needs to be able to prove this on a consistent basis. This means they need to have scoped the project properly, with built-in contingencies, plans, and even slack. Many things can be anticipated, but there will be things that won’t be.
Your Project Manager must also be able to show that the project will continue to be on time and on budget for the next number of months. To this end, they need to not only show what resources they will need and also how they will garner those resources when they need them.
Finally, your Project Manager should be able to prove that they know what contingencies they should plan for, explain how they anticipate them. There are many tools for this, but that is for a future blog.
These are simple and effective ways for you to know if your Project Manager is doing a good job and whether your project will be completed on time and on budget.
Start your next medical device project with the Waddell Group
Our team has worked with start-up companies, and Fortune 100 companies, there’s no project too small or too large for our project managers. We provide strategic level project leaders for the medical device industry. Beyond essential project management skills, our highly experienced consultants know how to lead teams, manage in times of crisis, and influence change. We offer expertise, intellectual property, and proven methodology. Contact us or give us a call at 952.221.3333 to get started