You have just attended a training course to get your project management qualification. It is your first day back at work, and you are keen to put your newly acquired learning into practice. Here are some bold ideas which you may not have considered to get you started.
Rub shoulders with the leaders
As you will have learned on your course, project managers do not make the big decisions – project sponsors and project board executives do. So why not ask your boss’s boss if you can be an observer at a few steering committee or project board meetings? This will give you insights into how projects are governed in your organisation and what will be expected of you when it is your turn.
Take over from the guru
If you have been in your organisation for a while, or you ask around a little, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a gun project manager who everyone acknowledges for their skills.
Buy that person a coffee and ask if you can run their project for them for a week. Even if they politely explain that won’t be possible, you can always ask if they could do a dummy handover meeting as if you were about to run the project. It should be interesting to hear how what they do on a day-to-day basis matches what you heard on the training course.
Invade the PMO
The PMO is the hub of activity in your organisation for all things related to project management. It’s a great place to learn how things really work.
Wander over there, and ask if you can work at one of their desks for the next couple of weeks. If you volunteer to give them a hand you will probably pick up some great tips which will be invaluable for your own project.
Throw away your PC
It might be tempting to go looking for templates and start typing, but I always think people looking for templates immediately after a training course is a bad sign – because methods such as PRINCE2 are process-based not template based, hence filling in templates doesn’t created a shared understanding of what is happening and what needs to be done.
So rather than do the template thing, how about you throw away your PC? (I admit just switching it off might be safer for your career!). What I mean is leave the PC alone, and instead take a good old-fashioned notebook and spend a week talking to everyone who has ever been near your project or who has an interest in it. The longer they have been around the project the more you can probably learn from them. If it is a new project so much the better. You can find out from your stakeholders what they really want and why.
Spend the night with your sponsor
Well all right then, perhaps not the night, but at least a good few hours one evening over dinner. Project sponsors are usually very busy people, but you need as much time with them as you can get, especially at the beginning of a project.
Meeting outside the usual work environment in an informal setting with no interruptions or paperwork is a great way to find out what people really think, and what they see as important.
If any freshly-trained project managers try these bold ideas please let us know how you go.
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