Cars have them. So do smartphones, washing machines, microwave ovens, and even socks. Yet, when the Powers That Be were handing out care instructions, they (carelessly) overlooked IT project managers. Sadly, this omission has led to an epidemic of overworked, underappreciated professionals who urgently need and clearly deserve some TLC from their team members.
And so, with this awareness in your mind and a whole lotta love in your heart, here are 5 ways you can make things better for the IT project managers in your life:
1. Help Manage Expectations
Ignore what “Project Management 101” textbooks claim: IT project success isn’t just about achieving stated business objectives on time and within budget. Fundamentally, it’s about ensuring that stakeholders, customers and sponsors are primed and positioned to accept what the project delivers at each stage of the PLC. You can play a big role in making this happen by regularly updating IT project managers on anything that helps them manage expectations.
2. Update Rapidly and Regularly
IT project managers need data – glorious, glorious data – to make informed, fast decisions that support scope integrity (or less pleasantly but more commonly: prevent scope disintegration). You can be part of this glory and earn a place in your IT project manager’s heart – and maybe Last Will & Testament as well – by regularly submitting time logs, status updates and issue notes.
3. Don’t Ignore the Big Picture
The “Command and Control” model of project management isn’t just outdated on today’s landscape, but it’s dangerous since it repels flexibility – which is essential for project survival, let alone success. However, don’t let this anti-empire sentiment convince you that your only approach is to go it alone and do your own thing; because you’re not on an island or in a silo. You’re part of an integrated system, and your work directly and indirectly impacts everyone else’s. So while it’s necessary to focus on your mandate, don’t lose sight of the big picture and deviate from standardized workflows and processes. You’ll be doing everyone a service, including your eternally grateful IT project manager.
4. Be Part of the Solution
Since you’re on the ground and in the trenches, you have an up-close-and-personal view of what’s not working on IT projects, such as lack of resources, misalignment between tasks and objectives, neglected risks, and so on. The best way you can exploit this visibility is to avoid being an expert in describing problems, and instead become a specialist in suggesting solutions. True, not all of your input will be accepted; but some of it might – and even one good idea at the right time can be the building block for what turns into a creative workaround or inspired resolution. At the very least, you’ll further deepen your reputation as a solution-oriented professional (this stuff comes across really well in performance reviews and promotion interviews!), and you’ll give your beleaguered IT project manager a dose of much-needed support.
5. Use the Project Management Software
If your organization has recently implemented good project management software, then simply put: use it! Yes, you may be more familiar with spreadsheets and other ad hoc tools that have been in the environment for years (maybe decades). However, the advantages of tolerating a temporary learning curve are massive, and it won’t just be your IT project manager who reaps the rewards of your buy-in. You’ll benefit by improving the quality and quantity of your work, yet with less effort and stress. It’s all gain, no pain.
Wrapping it Up
IT project managers are competent and hard working. But they’re much like the referees in sports: nobody tends to notice them until something goes wrong, and then they become target practice for pretty much everyone: sponsors, customers and executives. Heck, when projects start to go sideways, even dogs and cats on the street start looking at them more menacingly, and their car starts to make strange noises.
Of course, suffering and stress are part of life in IT project management, and they go with the territory. But you can alleviate some of the burden – as you help yourself and your fellow team members – by keeping the above care instructions in mind. What’s more, you may be on your way to becoming an IT project manager one day. A little good karma goes a long way.
At Planview AdaptiveWork, we’ve designed our award-winning project management solution to support and empower IT project managers and teams, because everyone needs some TLC every now and then. Learn more with a product tour.