John Fremlin's blog: Toys for project management

Posted 2019-08-02 22:00:00 GMT

Project management is overhead but communication between people is essential. Just as team outings or testing are overhead but can accelerate the main activities of a group, project management done well is a massive productivity boost.

Unfortunately, while I've worked on projects with many good TPMs, there is always criticism of the project management. The complaints are always the same: everything should be in one place and somehow simple. These demands are contradictions. They are inevitably hurtful to anybody who put effort in to project manage a complex project.

The solutions proposed are always to start from scratch with a new methodology: JIRA, spreadsheet, Trello, etc. This is destructive to morale in two ways: you're telling the people who put effort into the old systems that they're not recognised, and second, demanding they toil to move everything into the new shiny toy.

Even more destructive to morale is when the new toy system inevitably captures only part of the complex project or gets unwieldy - or out of date. And then the complaint that there are multiple systems and not just one place are made true.

People only loosely involved in the project must not be allowed to destabilise it with these criticisms and any success in project management needs to be celebrated loudly. It's a tough job and the hard work of bringing up mismatched expectations, cross checking and following up is what's useful - and much more important than choosing a shiny toy.

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