Panelists: Amye Scavarda (moderator), Chris Strahl, Vanessa Turke, Seth Brown, Rachel Scott
What was your worst day as a project manager?
- Regression bugs: you need to present to a client, you check out tickets and see tons of bugs, you know this will affect your clients' faith in your company. QA tip: use Selenium IDE to create macros to do QA testing
- Make sure all workers (all designers and developers) are in communication and on the same page throughout so someone doesn't suddenly come up with something shocking & very off
- Make sure that you establish very solidly who from the client is supposed to be involved in the process throughout; make sure you establish what will happen if late stakeholders have changes or complaint; talk about the nature of decision-making early and frequently
- Knowing there your planning has gone dreadfully wrong and there's no way to change or recover.
- Design: you think you've gotten signoff on the design, but shortly before the launch they want to redo things. How do you communicate design effectively to a client to help them understand how hard it is and why it's difficult to change things. Analogy: when you walk into a car dealership, you take the colors that are there, you don't argue about or try to get the dealership to change the color.
- Q: What project management certifications do folks on panel have? How important are they? A's: has a PMP (sp?), getting Agile certs, think it's very valuable, but also finds that certifications dicate the "right way" and don't allow for individual styles; could use the PM group on g.d.o in a much more robust way. Project managers should open source their processes. Another panelist: diploma in project management, Scrum master certification. Another panelist: Scrum master certification; gives a framework to go upon. Another panelist: likes to see certs, but tends to care more about whether the person can write, see requirements documentation, see how they communicate in email; those are the most critical skills. Can't really susbtitute for experience; people coming from small businesses and shops are great hires, tons of experience on many projects and with many clients. Amye: doesn't have any certs, but no substiutte for experience.
- Set up project management guidelines and expectations for project AND client at the start of a project; keep checking in about whether it's working and how to make it work better.
- Involve clients in the process, educate them on the project management. Allow time for people to give feedback.
- PMs should be involved in sales (when sales team is separate)
- Q: What's the process for handling a project that goes off the rails when you are both sales person and project manager for it? A: Bring in upper management/other people and get them involved in negotations with client.
- Some clients are overwhelmed by being fully updated about the project; need to train them to be ready for it, be straightforward.
- Q: How do you actually get signoff from clients? A's: You ask for it and you wait for it; don't do other work until you get the sign-off. Establish that up front, make it explicit. Write really clear acceptance critera so that everyone agrees on what "done" means. Set a standard turnaround time for client approval.
- Projects fail very often because clients aren't engaged or engaged too late.
- Be obstinate about your project management, planning, and development approach; be very up front about it.
- Clients don't do this every day like we do; they need to be oriented on how projects and project management work.
- Establish early on the project managment, status updates, and reporting expectations on both the client side and your side; don't assume what they do or do not need.