Don’t let the tools get in the way of managing your project

I serve on the board of an organization seeking grant funds.  They formed a committee.  The committee meets weekly and weekly and weekly – and when I recently asked about hte progress of their grant requests I was told that they finally decided to work with a Yahoo group and some Google tool.  Meeting after meeting took place with them working on finding the exact right tools – instead of typing up some grant requests.

When hiring Project Managers do you screen for their ability to manage people and juggle events, resources, problems -or do you worry about them knowing the project management software used by your firm? It’s easy to get caught up in software tools – especially in this valley where we are so sophisticated in high tech….but, in my opinion, managing projects has nothing to do with the tools we do to keep records.

Who are the people we need?  What are their particular skills?  Where are the holes?  How many hours can we negotiate for each of these people?  What resources will they need?  What are their other commitments?  With whom else do we have to negotiate in order to get their time freed up for our project?

What resources do we need?  Equipment, labs, parts, computers, cars, trucks, vans, or whatever – we need to list them, cost them out, and decide where we get them from and how long it will take to acquire them.  Make sure you watch for contingencies – like contracts and procurement never getting around to sending our your RFP or purchasing never sending out the purchase order.

What are all the events you need to manage?  Timelines, facilities, logistics, customer service, people problems?  Managing a project is like being an event coordinator or a triage nurse.  Your eyes, ears, and mind need to be in sixteen places at once – juggling all kinds of balls. (ooooh, that was sooo trite, sorry!)

 People were managing projects successfully long before the software was developed.  Please don’t confuse the tools with the skills of an outstanding project manager.

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