Parthenon Software Group

Coaching a Winning Project

Project management is an important part of any company, regardless of the type, source or outcome. There's a lot to do, and time is always limited. Any project is a short-term action that has a timeframe and seldom lasts for longer than two years. It stands to reason that project managers must make the most of what have to work with. If you look at it in terms of sports, the role of a project manager is very much like that of a soccer coach.  They are given a team to shape into an effective force with rules to follow and limited resources. Everyone would like a dream team, but the best coach is one who can make champions.

During a season, the primary focus is reaching the World Cup. It doesn't matter how many individual games you lose as long as you become champions. You must plan ahead keeping the strengths and limitations of your team in mind. An influx of change is almost always a guarantee. The players (project team) may move to different clubs (projects) or from club to club (project to project) during a season. The same can be said of the coach. They don't necessarily stay with one team for multiple seasons. So, don't focus on things you cannot control, but plan for them. Even if all seems lost, you have a chance to improve the club and make them worth rooting for, regardless of all the changes that have occurred.

In my own experience, I've had new developers added to my projects that need training, take vacations mid-project or are reassigned to different projects. This can be frustrating, but at the end of the day, I understand that upper management knows what they are doing and some seasons are less important than the team as a whole. They are the leaders of the company and as such, they are considering the future well being of the whole company and not just a particular project. It is my responsibility to make adjustments and make the most of the time I do have.

If a company loses a project it's important not to exaggerate the consequences. There are few companies that must rely on a single project to stay afloat. However, if major business operations fail, it is much more difficult to recover. Good project managers understand the temporary nature of the project environment and they know how to use it to the greatest advantage for the company as a whole.

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