7 Questions That Give Project Managers Sleepless Nights
Project Manger’s Days Are All Occupied
Project managers have a demanding daily routine. You would be checking emails to see if there is any surprise from yesterday, tracking progress of critical activities, hear project team members’ issues about project or even personal ones, guide them, assign new activities to them, connect with other stakeholders, sponsors, customers. Sounds similar? You will find many more activities alike yours when you will read a typical day in the life of a project manager. But what happens as the day pass? Can project manager leave all thoughts about his project at office and go home?
Project Managers Having Sleepless Nights?
You wouldn’t be burning mid-night oil all the time but there are some typical questions which keeps you up at night. Questions which haunt you and can spoil your night.
“I do not have precise control over the project? And what will happen next?” These are two broader questions that keep haunting project managers. The general feeling that I don’t have the control over the way project is progressing is frustrating. Deep down, there are specific thoughts that give you the generalized feeling of helplessness. Let’s look at seven questions that can give project managers sleepless nights.
Are my resources working on right things at right time?
You simply hope your project team members have understood what is expected from them and they are working on RIGHT things at right time. Imagine a situation where some high priority issue has come up and the team member who is expected to resolve this issue is working on some non-critical routine activity. If you have team members who understands the need of an hour and act proactively are highly desirable. What if you don’t have such resources? This thought could give project managers sleepless nights.
John has resigned, how am I going to get another resource in short time span?
The creepiest feeling project managers have when a project is going through rough patches and one of your key resources resigns. You know quite well that you may be able to get another resource but you will still have questions like
- Can I get another resource ASAP. The project is in a critical phase
- Even if I get a resources ASAP, how am I supposed to train him/her and expect him/her to deliver like a regular team member?
Let’s say a project team member leaving organization is a possibility but even if he/she does not leave, still if remains unhappy, not content with work, career prospect; it is also a challenging question that can give project manager sleepless nights.
Am I able to track real progress of the project? Are my strategies right based on this data?
One of the major difficulty project managers have is being appraised of real status and actual progress of a project. Project managers have to go by project team members’ assessment of progress of their individual activities. The situation gets worsen if you are not using project management software for collaboration and to manage projects. It means that you have to resort to manual and not-so-reliable technics to communicate project activities to team members, and track progress.
But important question for project manager is, if I were to go by available progress numbers, will my decisions based on this data, prove right? Will my strategies based on reported progress, issues and communication will bear fruit?
Should I have spent more time in planning the project in detail?
When going gets tough, project managers start thing about what could have gone wrong. Though there are certain elements which are beyond your control, you will realize that accounting inadequate buffer while planning project puts you in a really difficult situation.
So you will keep thinking “It doesn’t seems like I have enough buffer to cover the gap between expected and actual progress.” And you should have spent more time in planning projects in details. Even in case of agile environment, you cannot do away project planning entirely.
We are not able to meet the deadline? How should I tell this to client?
This is a dreadful situation that you would pray you shouldn’t have to face. But if you are really into that situation and realize that unless there is some miracle, you will not be able to meet the project deadline. After making plenty of promises to client, you don’t want to give him such a bad surprise. You don’t have a choice but to inform customer about the reality of project. How to break this news (like The Parrot Neither Eats, Nor Drinks), thinking about these will give project managers sleepless nights.
A big issue came up today, should I inform sponsor, client tomorrow about it?
This question is similar to above one but again, as a project manager will you keep thinking how I should inform project sponsor about this problem. If the problem is beyond your control or out of the scope of project, you will be able to inform stakeholders without much hassle. But if problem has occurred because of some lapses in project planning or during execution then you will have a hard time explaining it.
My appraisal is going to get screwed this time. What can I expect from review meeting?
After all these, you will obviously be worried about your career progression. If things are going good, you will be fine with the career progression. But when you have project going off track, you will have difficult time in defending yourself in review meeting. The very thought of career getting screwed can give project managers sleepless nights.
Do you have any different questions in your mind, let me know. In subsequent post we will have to get into a safer zone; what should you be doing to get good night sleep?
Additional readings about project management, leadership
- 4 Types of Stress Project Managers Have to Deal with
- Whether Your Organization Needs PMO
- Top 4 Goals for Project Manager,
- Essentials of Software Project Management
- Pulse of the Profession by Project Management Institute
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