Everyone is a Project Manager — Yes, That Means You

Times are changing, and so are the ways people work and collaborate.

When you think about the term “project manager” who and what comes to mind? The Apprentice? Your manager? A colleague in a another team perhaps or an individual who literally has “Project Manager” on a business card, or email signature?

Well, it may not be part of your job title, and you may even struggle to find the words in your job description, nevertheless, you and nearly every other professional known to mankind, manages projects in some form or other.

A Project Is Defined as “an Individual or Collaborative Enterprise That Is Carefully Planned to Achieve a Particular Aim

When you think “project”, you typically think about big things, such as:

  • House building developments
  • Developing a new product
  • IT system integration
  • Writing a tender

But actually, many smaller activities can also be classed as a project, such as:

  • Creating and delivering an internal training course
  • Creating and sending an e-newsletter
  • Creating new team processes

In fact, according to David Allen, pioneer of the productivity system Getting Things Done (GTD), a ‘project’ is any multi-step action. In other words, creating a new ad campaign,  even buying a new car or making a 3-course dinner for your significant others are all different types of daily projects you manage.

What does this mean for people not called project managers?

Well, failing to realise this could mean that you are missing out on  important lessons that the people with the ‘project manager’ label on their business cards know only too well.

If you approach your daily tasks and projects with the mindset, “I can do this in a structured, organised way,” then the outcome will substantially improve. Additionally, it may seem glaringly obvious, but someone needs to own a project, and not every business or team has a certified project manager to call upon.

1.  Change your approach

Stake Your Claim That This Is Now a Project You‘re Managing

Professional project managers have formal training on the best way on approaching a project and use methodologies which take time to master. However, this just isn’t appropriate for people who are juggling the role of unofficial project manager alongside many other tasks. 

Simply changing your mind-set can make a difference in how you approach the work.

2. Create an action plan

Make a List of the Actions It Will Take to Get You to the End Goal

It’s very easy to jump straight in and get moving on a project. Spending time planning can seem like wasted time, but in fact without good planning, you could be wasting your time and energy on things that just aren’t needed. In other words, skipping the planning phase of a project is a sure-fire way of encountering problems down the line. The basics of what you’ll need to establish includes your project vision (or guiding light), what your project will deliver, the risks to the project as well as your budget, resources and timescales.

3. Set a realistic deadline

Without a Deadline Your Project Will Sit at the Bottom of Your To-do List and Will Go Nowhere

When it comes to assessing your timescales, you need to figure out what is realistically achievable, while not padding out your timelines too much.

4. Communicate regularly

Developing a Project in a Bubble Will Result in Problems Later On

Regular communication is vital. Meetings, emails and even a quick trip to your colleague’s desk are all needed to make sure you have not missed anything important and that everyone in on the same page.