It’s not easy to be a project manager.
To deliver project value, you must overcome many challenges, including scope creep, time management, team coordination, and keeping everyone on the same page.
These issues can seem like a full-time job. It can feel like a full-time job for large project managers.
However, if you are in charge of projects for a small or medium-sized business (SMB), “project manager” is often just one hat and a title you have assumed without any formal project management training.
This means you will have to work harder to keep everything spinning. It is a difficult balance act that makes it difficult for project managers to identify and correct problems.
If these issues are not addressed, they can lead to serious problems that could affect your ability to deliver project value and your ability to achieve your business goals.
Mark Langley, president and CEO of Project Management Institute, states in the 2018 Pulse Of The Profession report:
“If your organization isn’t good at managing projects, it puts too much at risk of delivering strategy.”
You’re compromising your ability to achieve strategic goals by simply getting by from a project management perspective or worse, being actively bad at keeping the plates spinning.
Before the plates fall to the floor, learn from three peers who have overcome their own project management challenges.
Liz Theresa, founder of LizTheresa.com (an online marketing and design company), is a strong advocate for hiring smart people who can challenge your ability to work harder, not harder. It wasn’t always this way.
She started her agency entirely by herself. After four years of doing 100% of the work, she reached breaking point.
“I was trying sleep after a long day of work, but I realized I needed to hit publish on a page in WordPress to launch a sale for a client at midnight.
So she decided to make a change and hire a team to shoulder the burden.
The solution: Theresa, like many entrepreneurs who went from a one-person team to a multi-person team, learned that managing her workload was not about increasing her staff, but about building trust and allowing her team to delegate tasks.
“It was difficult for me to give up 100% control, but the quality of what I produced improved dramatically.”
She was able to audit her responsibilities and found several actions that could be delegated to a member of the team, despite her resistance to giving them over.
Theresa states, “Development tasks that used to take me six hours now take me six minutes because [the developer] has their zone–which reminds us to stay in ours.”
Her team is distributed so they use a variety tools to stay connected.
To-dos in Basecamp (Source)
The results: Theresa saved up to nine hours each work week by performing a task-time audit. She was able to delegate tasks that didn’t need her oversight and thus regained an entire workday.
The big takeaway from SMBs
People have a finite amount of time to dedicate to work. When this happens, they experience increased stress, which can lead to burnout and poor work performance. This can have a negative impact on project outcomes and compromise your ability achieve strategic goals.
Balance doesn’t necessarily mean “layer on top”. If you or other project leaders are taking on additional responsibilities, consider delegating tasks that do not require project manager oversight.
Prioritization at this level requires planning, tracking of level-of-effort (LoE), and a structured schedule. Use a task management tool to get started.