Digital Project Manager Reflections

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It’s that time of the year! It’s 2014 retrospective time and as a Digital Project Manager I always strive to get better at what I do.

Here is my list of reflections about the job I do.

1. I do not bring explicit value to the product that we build

I am educated as a developer and I have worked many years as a developer. Calling myself a project manager is a bit painful to the developer part of me. Mostly because it means that in my role I do not bring explicit value to the product that we build. I can greatly affect the path we take and the end result. I can even screw up the end result and set the team in a very uncomfortable situation. But I very seldom create things that the end user will interact with. I do of course always strive to create value in every way that I can, but it is not me that do the actual work of producing it.

2. My performance is measured by the team performance

As everyone else, I enjoy getting positive response for the work I do. Personal feedback is of course appreciated, but most of it is not really valuable. Say for instance: “Wow, great work on presenting that last sprint.”, or “Thanks for having that meeting and informing us about the upcoming release”. Such things are good indications that you are doing a good job, but the problem is that the performance of a project manager only can be measured by the performance of the team.

So what is good feedback? Increased team velocity. Stories deployed and pushed to production. Completed sprints. And most important, a happy team, a happy client and happy users of your product.

3. You are less important than your team members

My job is to help the team do the best possible work that they can do. PM work can never be more important than development. I can never have a “Do not disturb” sign on my desk. My job is to be there for the team and to be available. The answer to “Do you have 5 minutes?” is always “yes”. I help them with administrative tasks, I change lightbulbs, clean the meeting room, provide them with Super Sticky Post Its and I give them candy. They are the rock stars and I just hope that I can share the spotlight with them.

4. When presented with a pile of shit, start digging

Projects have this tendency to present themselves with a lot of “challenges”. And most of them will end up in the PMs lap at some time or another. I have only found one remedy for handling these situations, and that is to stop doing whatever you were doing, roll up your sleeves, and start digging. Hard work is usually the only thing that pays of, that have at least been the success factor for me. And meanwhile, just hope that there is not a fan standing close by

5. Workload is variable

A PMs workload is not constant and varies highly dependent on the stage of the project. If I would adapt to how the project needs me I could work 80 hours one week and 20 hours the next. (I dont’t do that, but I could). This one is a challenge to handle, sometimes it is necessary to put in the extra hours, but the best thing is of course to use the calm periods to really prepare for the though periods. I have not cracked this nut yet, predicting the future is still quite hard, but I am improving ;-)

6. Have fun

Bad stuff happens when people do not like their job. (see nr.4). So remember to have fun!

So whats your list?

Published by

Anders M. Andersen

Digital Project Manager and Front End Developer.