Project management through the eyes of a former Project Manager and ex-Programmer

Project management is a real challenge and yet a significant number of people (sometimes including people from your team) downplay the importance of the Project Manager role.

I have heard numerous times that any organizational skills and participation in even one project are enough to be able to lead a team through the entire process. Many people seeing only some of the duties performed as part of this profession do not see the full sense of its work and at the same time diminish its importance. What often escapes is the fact that you need a person who brings together different aspects of a project.

A noticeable problem is treating similar projects as identical and assuming that they must be carried out in the same (even copy-paste) way. However, each project is different and should be considered individually. Let me show you examples from my previous projects (without providing specific data) emphasise the above statements.

An international cosmetics company wants to redesign their. One template - many countries. Seems to be a piece of cake. Nothing but copy-paste. However, it should be remembered that there are many technical and cultural factors involved in such projects. It may happen that the existing websites were built completely different in each country. Considering the old structure or a type of connection to the product base we may see how it will affect implementation of a new template. Occasionally, renaming one button can cause unwanted changes in other parts of the application where the button name was used. Another issue is translations - not all countries are monolingual - sometimes you need to be able to switch the language within one country. Let us not forget the cultural and political issues.

Sometimes the possibility to put appropriate clauses in a specific place or display the price of the product before and after the discount is a must. Sometimes a text is written right to left. In some countries, specific formulas are just forbidden. This costs people countless hours of work. With such a number of factors we need to look at it from a wider perspective. The ideas should be bind into a single set with correct priorities, otherwise we will bury ourselves in the rush of changes, corrections and pressure of passing time.

Let's leave the work on a project involving a multicultural environment for a moment. Let's look at another example. We are in one country and we even operate in one industry. Nothing easier, right? We have a ready product that will significantly improve work of companies in this industry. We start selling and implementing. Can such a product be implemented in every company in the same way? It is unlikely. Each company has its own structure, different set of products, specific logistic system or a process acceptance path. So, we have to consider what scope of our product can and should be implemented for real improvement of the work in this company and what factors will affect how it will proceed. In most cases, our finished product is adapted and changed to best suit the needs of a given customer.

In my opinion, Project Manager is the glue that binds together technical and business part of the project. They are a shield for the team, a translator between a specialist language and the client's vision. They are a person who, with the help of their team, turn chaos into order.

Author: Magda Glińska