Amongst the many subjects that school doesn’t seem to teach anyone despite how useful it would be IRL, is Project Management.
I recently bought a book on called “Project Management for The Unofficial Project Manager” because I have never had any training and have been struggling with a much bigger project.
Here’s a few things I learned that would have taken less than a few hours to have been taught in college. Or on a job. Or even when I was 10 years old. They’re easy to understand but they’re really important to do.
1) Figure out who the stakeholders are. It’s not just you and the customer. It’s a whole lot of other people and if you don’t get them all involved then any one of them can derail your project later.
2) Write stuff down and get people to agree and sign it so you have more assurance that you’re all on the same page. I often do all the planning in my head because my projects aren’t that big. But writing things down always helps you see the gaps and issues. Things to write down: What you’re doing, who’s doing it, when they are doing, what the expected results are, a plan for communication, etc.
3) Project Management, especially when it is informal (they report to someone else or it’s a friendly project) is a PEOPLE thing as much as it is a process thing. Listen to people. Respect people (even when they are cranky). Clearly communicate to people. Hold people accountable.
4) Duration is not the same as hours needed to do a task. If you have an 8 hour task and you only can give it an hour a day, your duration is 8 days. This is completely obvious but I’ve planned (?) so many things where I didn’t ask duration but instead asked how many hours. People don’t work in a vacuum, they have other things to do and you need to know how much they can give each day.