The Project Manager Not To – Do List

13 May

It’s spring so it is time to dust off your Not-To-Do list and make sure you are tackling the must do’s on your project and not get caught in the details of things a project manager should not be doing. Similar to executives having difficulty identifying the projects that should not be worked on project managers fall into the same trap of not identifying the things they should not be working on.

There is no shortage of planning, scheduling, documenting, overseeing, coordinating and communicating information on a project. However one of the excuses I hear from folks I mentor is ‘I don’t have time to do these things.’  My concern is if a project manager has little or no time to do the things required to lead and manage a project then where is time being spent? In many cases these ‘accidental project managers’ are having difficulty transitioning to a project manager role because they simply do not understand project management disciplines and do not understand what is expected of them in the project manager role.

Delivering bad news, revising the plan due to missed deadlines, resolving conflicts, reigning in stakeholders to stay within scope, reporting status and keeping the team focused are things project managers may not want or like to do. But if you are in a project manager role then you will have to force yourself to do things that you don’t want to do if you want to be a successful project manager. Part of this problem is an organizational problem because organization’s put people in project manager roles without any training. Typically what I have observed is folks put in this position fail to spend time performing project management and fall back into their comfort zone. They procrastinate on the things they should be doing to move the project forward and immerse themselves in activities they are comfortable performing such as:

Developing test cases

Your job as project manager is to ensure a test plan and appropriate test case scenarios are documented and executed. Developing test case scenarios is a time consuming activity that can easily divert your attention from other activities that need to be completed. Ensure that a process is in place to identify total test cases, test cases passed, test cases failed and break/fix issues. As the project manager you need to be overseeing the testing process not developing and executing it.

Bottom of in the in box syndrome

Putting off tasks by putting them at the bottom of the pile is not doing yourself or your project any good. The night before commit to tackling that dreaded task and the next day just get it done. Don’t allow yourself to reflect or procrastinate. Whatever you are dreading is not going away and only allows you more time to come up with creative excuses which means you are spending more time on things you should NOT be doing.

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