Are you thinking of becoming an online project manager? Do you thrive when managing people, projects, and systems? If you are wondering what kind of challenges online project managers face, this episode is for you.
I spent lots of years in corporate as a project manager, and also in human resources before I transitioned into the online space. In the past 4 years of my journey of entrepreneurship and self employment, I’ve identified the most common challenges that you will likely face as an online project manager.
4 Common Project Manager Challenges
Lack of Clarity Around Goals
You want to get a full understanding of the entire project, so you sit down with the leader to gather details and create a comprehensive plan. But beware, the visionary will want to push through this really fast; they might even want to skip it all together. They can only see the outcome; they don’t like the fine details like you do.
After all, that is why they are hiring you. They don’t think about the implications of looking at this from a financial perspective, and charting how many sales they need to make the project profitable.
“The more information you have about the entire business, the better you will be able to do your job.”
This is where a Director of Operations (DOO) can be beneficial because they will have the strategic mapping knowledge. A DOO who is integrated into the entire business will be able to see the bigger picture.
The Variety of Communication Systems
A critical part of planning project management is communication. As you manage people and projects, you’ll notice that as the project gets underway the teams’ natural preferences start to emerge.They will always try to divert back to their old ways. You may begin the project with a solid communication plan, but over time, it will be tested.
A common plan is to place decisions, statuses and tasks in one location like Trello. However, when all the conversations around the project start happening, you don’t want all of that to be housed in the same place where decisions and statuses are occurring.
You will want to encourage people to have those conversations in another tool such as Slack or Voxer, which are more suited for ongoing discussion. This is a challenge you will have to stay on top of, and I encourage you to create a system at the very beginning, outlining what is acceptable.
“Keep reminding and course correcting your team, because you want communication to be as clear as possible.”
The Wavering Support of Your Team
When you work with contractors, remember that you most likely won’t be their only client. The project you are paying them for will have split attention, and split support. You will have to create a project plan with that in mind, and set your timelines appropriately. You will also have to have excellent management and follow up skills.
If you have the ability to hire the team, you can use this to your advantage. DOOs have a true system that I created, which is called Hiring Simplified and if you go through the certified DOO program, you get access to this system.
You need to look at what the contractors work life looks like, and analyze how you will need them. Since you created a project plan, you will know how much you will need to utilize them in the coming weeks and months.
You know what it’s like… you start getting messages that the leader wants something new added. It’s not wrong for your leader to want to dream and innovate… if fact, you are allowing them to do this by taking so much off their plate. They just don’t realize that it throws off the project plan, and that is what you are being paid for.
Leaders also don’t realize the time and resources that it will take when they want to add something once a project is live. You have a project plan in place that has timelines and time commitments from other contractors.
Scope creep has an enormous ripple effect and is something we all have to be conscious of. More often than not, these leaders are not willing to move a launch date, and this leaves you in a predicament. You’ll either be forced to have a difficult conversation or you bear the brunt of it. You’ll end up putting in late nights, doing things you aren’t skilled in or calling in favors. This is not healthy for you or the project.
Scope creep can come up in contracts, and also relationships. It is not okay, but there are ways we can handle it. This is what I’m going to be sharing with you in my upcoming 5 day sprint. Sign up for The Scope Creep Solution which will start on May 11th. Can’t wait to see you there!
Weekly Ops Activity
On a scale of 1 to 10, how well do you address scope creep in your projects, relationships and contracts? A score of 1 means you totally avoid it, a score of 10 means you are the boss at having those difficult conversations. Tell us in the Facebook group!
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