Schedules and budgets are only part of the project management process.
Kevin is enjoying "alone time" while I take my vacation somewhere warmer than our office. For lack of a furry companion in my desert paradise, I have looked to the locals to assist in my writing. The locals: Dinosaurs. Well, not real ones anymore. Their distant cousins offered a helping reptilian paw. Project Management is as old as the raptors who needed to organize the hunt for their prey somehow. Then much later, Zog and Oga had to organize the saber tooth hunt and find shelter. There would have been specific resources to be used and a timeline. Sticks, moss, pelts for shelter to be secured before the snow came. This is leadership, however, due to the complexity of current projects, smaller units of management are now required.
Creating a workplan to meet a schedule with the correct number of resources to stay on an internal budget, to mention nothing of a construction or implementation budget, are only bogus numbers if the project variables are constantly changing. Part of Project Management is anticipating what can and will happen and allowing for issues in the budget and timeline. Most projects are unique and require relevant skill sets and experience to achieve an accurate schedule and budget. If you don't have the skill set or experience then ask someone who does. This does not make you look like an idiot, rather it makes you appear aware of your shortcomings enough to find a solution.
The big project drivers, obviously, people. Happy, talented people. People who like to learn and contribute to the project. People who like to feel that they are just as respected and valued as anyone else. People who have lives, problems, mouths to feed. People who need to stay engaged. Books, seminars, and websites are devoted to managing people. For those who are not genuinely interested in others or care about them, how to engage and motivate may never be taught to them. There are basics that anyone can learn and it sounds something like this:
"Hi, how are you today?"
"Hi, how are you today?"
"Not good? Anything you want to discuss?"
"Worried about a deadline? Let's see what we can do.."
"Family member is sick? Then finish-up and leave early. Your attention will be focused elsewhere anyways."
These are examples of asking a simple question, listening, and performing an action. This could be five minutes of your day to check on your team. They can either help you make your schedule or blow your budget.
There is no switch in the brain easily accessible that can be turned-on to get people to understand people. Often, individuals with excellent skills get tossed into leadership that they don't want and vise versa. A simple question implying interest can show an attempt to connect and understand people. Eventually, it will become apparent what issues are going to arise with teams. One of the big project success issues is how to get the right people in the right roles.
The dinosaurs had extra insight into survival and organization or they would not have effectively roamed the Earth for millions of years. Maybe we will find the key to global organization too...that doesn't involve eating each other...
Fiona Warren - 17 years experience with large high-profile projects and teams.