What are the team members doing?
Why is the project team always behind schedule?
Why is the project always lack human resources?
If you are a project manager, have you ever asked the three questions presented above? Basically, if you are managing a team for a project, these issues more or less would exist in the process of the project.
In this series, we will discuss how to establish a management mechanism for the project team and some problems which might be encountered during the management process. This article is the first part of the series, which would discuss how to find the entry point of the problem and how to continue to promote.
1. What is the entry point?
When we say “the team needs a mechanism of project management”, it means the project team must be confused or unhealthy. Because it is usually the team leader or the senior management who needs the knowledge of project management. Why is that? Well, because the managements are the groups of people who have the direct perception of project’s delivery, and whether the project deliver something that is not what they expected or the project deliver nothing, they would be the most painful ones. But the problem is that most of the team members can not sense these problems of the team themselves, especially the members of the execution level.
That is why the entry point is very important. How important? Well, it relates to whether you can successfully establish a project management mechanism for this team and develop it. If you choose the wrong entry point, then the result must be not as good as your expectation. The power of people is the most powerful. Project management can be said to be from top to bottom in terms of delegation and from bottom to top in terms of implementation. The two must complement each other.
How to find the right entry point?
- Observe the composition of the team, the status of the team, the thing which the team is doing right now, and the detailed situations of each team member.
- Ask the side (either from their leaders or from their cooperative partner) about what the team is doing, the problems encountered, and everyone’s evaluation of the team
- Communicate with the key people in the team, such as the group leader, the group leader of a certain end, and the members with excellent ability in the team, to understand their ideas, their views on the team, whether they know the current problems, and whether they have any ideas, etc
- Get into the team, work with them, find practical problems, and find appropriate solutions.
Through the above steps, we can basically make a qualitative analysis for the team. What are the main problems, what do the team think about these problems, and whether team members are willing to change? Our entry point is where we are most painful and want to change.
For instance, when we get into the big data team, we communicated with several members. Their problem is that the data requirements are too scattered. The requirements are raised from time to time, and each of them has a high priority. So our entry point is the requirement sorting mechanism. When we get into the new retail team, their problem was the cooperation between operation and industrial development. The operation had to do a lot of functions. Meanwhile, industrial development always said that they were lack of resources or could not do it. So we established a demand alignment and evaluation mechanism. At the same time, we implemented agile in the industrial development team. All tasks were split and the duration of each task was within three days. And all R&D resources were made transparent to ensure that both sides would not quarrel.
When we get into the middle platform, the biggest pain is that the requirements of all business parties of the whole company will be raised to the middle platform. All kinds of communication channels are complex, and the requirements are often missed, or there is no feedback. Meanwhile, the rivalry between the business lines is also chaotic. Therefore, we have established the requirement alignment meeting and priority sorting mechanism, for sorting out the sources of all the requirements, and regularized the demand channels, so that the middle platform can get a better result and the business requirements become orderly.
After solving the problems of many teams, we gradually implement the whole set of project management systems, which will become much easier, because we all feel the benefits of the project management mechanisms.
2. Continue to promote
If you want to achieve something in a team, it must bring benefits to the team. Once we find the entry point, we can go deep into the team to understand what they lack. In other words, if what they lack can be supplemented, then the team management system can be established.
Who is the beneficiary of continuously promoting the implementation of the whole project management system? Some people may say that would be the boss and the manager, but those who execute the project would be unlucky. They have to report everything they do every day clearly, and they would be squeezed and pushed by the boss. In fact, that’s not the case. For now, let’s put the topic of manager and boss aside. Please think about it. Have you ever found someone who can’t cooperate with you in your work? Or find someone who says they are busy and ignore you? Or is there a higher priority? Have you ever achieved a lot that your boss doesn’t admit? Have you ever met someone who clearly is the responsibility of the other party, but let you carry the pot? So, please don’t just see that you are in charge, but see what you can get from it. From the perspective of PMO, we can not just ask the team members to follow the rules but ignoring of everyone’s feelings and the actual situation. The virtuous circle of a team must be that every member is consensual and making progress together.
In summary, this article is the first part of the series about how to establish a management system/mechanism among a project team. This article presents how to find an entry point of the project team’s problems and how to continue promoting the management system.