Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Why should you care about project management in academia?

I promised I would start this year on a more positive note going back to the original goal of my blog, learning how to manage a research laboratory. I was inspired by a discussion about Project Management on Twitter a few weeks ago. I've been obsessed with learning more about Proect Management for over a year now and I thought I'd share what I found out.

Design flowchart (Wikimedia Commons)
What is Project Management? I will do what we tell students not to do, cite Wikipedia. "Project Management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at a specified time."

This should sound familiar to anyone who has ever published a research paper or written a doctoral thesis...possibly with the exclusion of "at a specified time". What many students and postdocs don't realize is that, in general, Project Management is one of the most important skills acquired during a PhD that is directly translatable to industry or to any other job.

Project Management has evolved into a discipline with certifications and Master's programs, and Project Managers (PMs) are a now critical part of most projects in various industries. In conversations with friends in PM roles in banking or IT, I have been amazed by how similar our issues are, and how easily we can share tips and concerns about managing people and tasks in our respective fields. While scientists usually develop Project Management skills on the fly, having some idea of the type of approaches that have been tried and tested in different industries may help streamline project development and performance. It's also a very useful skill to mention early in your resume when you are looking for a nonacademic job, and it's absolutely critical when running a lab.

To take the time to go through different aspects of adapting PM rules to research, I thought I'd run a series of posts providing info and useful links to additional materials:

1) General Project Management rules and how they apply to scientific research
2) Different types of Project Management approaches to chose from depending on your personnel and project (guest post by Duc Phan, UCI grad student and PM aficionado)
3) Managing your own project vs. managing several projects in a lab
4) Managing different people to make sure they perform as necessary and are invested in the project
5) Managing while female (while a lot of PMs are women, we often encounter issues in telling people what to do).

Stay tuned! Links will be added here as the posts are published. Also, if there is something specific you are interested in, write a comment. We would be happy to elaborate and add more posts.

9 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post it comes in at a very timely manner!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lett me share all of you about #10 Tips for Project Management Success, I hope you enjoy it

      1. Plan your day using time management techniques

      As a project manager, time management skills are essential because you are dealing with a wide range of tasks that demand a quick turnaround time. Planning your day will go a long way in keeping you organized and increasing your productivity. Assist your task planning by using project management software which helps you track the work of you and your team.

      If you are not very tech savvy, a simple to-do list can also be a great organizational tool. Prioritize your most important tasks by putting them at the top of the list and less important ones at the bottom. Having a visual plan of your daily tasks helps to keep you on track and aware of time.

      Related post: Free ebook 104 secrets to become a great project manager

      2. Include stakeholders in important project conversations

      While you will have plenty of responsibilities regarding the project, don’t neglect your clients.

      Good communication is essential is keeping both parties informed of project progression, curtailing scope creep, and apprised of changing requirements. Some clients may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so make sure to establish the frequency and type of communication (like emails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations) at the beginning of your project.

      Establishing communication expectations early helps alleviate stakeholder uncertainty about communication frequency and delivery.

      3. Regularly communicate with your team

      Daily team communication helps keep misunderstandings and unclear requirements under control. Keeping your team informed in every step of the project is essential to project management success.

      For example, a study published by Procedia Technology found that good communication skills were the cornerstone of project management. The study examined over 300 “construction project managers, architects, construction managers, engineers and quantity surveyors” and their successes and failures on various construction projects.

      4. Anticipate project setbacks

      Even the best-laid plans often go awry.

      Remember that even with a high amount of planning and attention to detail, your project may still encounter some challenges. Pay attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues, and other warning signs, like a missed deadline or cost overrun, that there may be a problem.

      Preventing a crisis will keep your project running smoothly, save you a lot of time, and keep you, your team, and your stakeholders confident in progressing with the project.

      Unfortunately not every complication can be avoided. Crisis management skills are essential for dealing with the unexpected. Project managers need to be flexible and pragmatic. Improvise and make sharp decisions when needed.

      Related post: 92 free project management templates

      5. Stay focused on the details

      A common problem project managers encounter is having the project aims not aligned with the organization’s objectives. A great project manager will strategize a plan for the project to lead back to the overall success of the business.

      Know your project’s scope by heart and avoid wandering outside of the project’s requirements. It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what your focus is, so a well-planned project scope is essential for success.

      And final, you should use KPI to measure effectiveness of the project, here are full list: 76 project management KPIs

      Delete
  2. Have just started thinking about this as I start up my group. I'd be really interested to learn about project management software/web apps and perhaps some reviews or comments about what works/doesn't work. Would love to know if something like Bandcamp/Asana/Slack is really useful for running research groups.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On it. I'll expand on a future post, but the answer is yes and no. It completely depend if you can get people engaged in using those tools. That's the hardest part.

      Delete

    2. Tag: PM201A55. Let me share all of you about #5 Tips for Project Management Success,, I hope you enjoy it

      1. Plan your day using time management techniques

      As a project manager, time management skills are essential because you are dealing with a wide range of tasks that demand a quick turnaround time. Planning your day will go a long way in keeping you organized and increasing your productivity. Assist your task planning by using project management software which helps you track the work of you and your team.

      If you are not very tech savvy, a simple to-do list can also be a great organizational tool. Prioritize your most important tasks by putting them at the top of the list and less important ones at the bottom. Having a visual plan of your daily tasks helps to keep you on track and aware of time.

      Related post: Free ebook 104 secrets to become a great project manager

      2. Include stakeholders in important project conversations

      While you will have plenty of responsibilities regarding the project, don’t neglect your clients.

      Good communication is essential is keeping both parties informed of project progression, curtailing scope creep, and apprised of changing requirements. Some clients may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so make sure to establish the frequency and type of communication (like emails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations) at the beginning of your project.

      Establishing communication expectations early helps alleviate stakeholder uncertainty about communication frequency and delivery.

      3. Regularly communicate with your team

      Daily team communication helps keep misunderstandings and unclear requirements under control. Keeping your team informed in every step of the project is essential to project management success.

      For example, a study published by Procedia Technology found that good communication skills were the cornerstone of project management. The study examined over 300 “construction project managers, architects, construction managers, engineers and quantity surveyors” and their successes and failures on various construction projects.

      4. Anticipate project setbacks

      Even the best-laid plans often go awry.

      Remember that even with a high amount of planning and attention to detail, your project may still encounter some challenges. Pay attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues, and other warning signs, like a missed deadline or cost overrun, that there may be a problem.

      Preventing a crisis will keep your project running smoothly, save you a lot of time, and keep you, your team, and your stakeholders confident in progressing with the project.

      Unfortunately not every complication can be avoided. Crisis management skills are essential for dealing with the unexpected. Project managers need to be flexible and pragmatic. Improvise and make sharp decisions when needed.

      Related post: 92 free project management templates

      5. Stay focused on the details

      A common problem project managers encounter is having the project aims not aligned with the organization’s objectives. A great project manager will strategize a plan for the project to lead back to the overall success of the business.

      Know your project’s scope by heart and avoid wandering outside of the project’s requirements. It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what your focus is, so a well-planned project scope is essential for success.

      And final, you should use KPI to measure effectiveness of the project, here are full list: 76 project management KPIs


      Delete
  3. Awesome. After 4.5 years I feel like I am increasingly running out of control because there is just Too Much To Do.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Looking forward to this series! Thank you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for sharing such great information. can you help me in finding out more detail on schools in magarpatta city pune

    ReplyDelete