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Project Management

COW Blogs : Mike Cohen's Blog : Project Management

Someone ought to write a book called "I'm a project manager, Now What?!"

Hey, not a bad idea for a book.

Back in 2003 I began the gradual transition from video editor/shooter to project manager. Mind you I do plenty of editing, but depending upon the project I am in fact managing, sometimes more sometimes less. But the particular responsibilities are no less important than the others.

At the time, we had about 3 times as many employees, so I was also a department manager. There was some resentment, such as "can you do my job as the web master? how can you possibly manage me or review my performance if you can't do my job yourself?"

I'm not making this up.

As it turns out, in addition to learning how to evaluate the performance of others, I also had to learn how to fire people, not an easy thing to do.

Given a leaner crew, I could focus less on personnel issues and more on figuring out how to juggle multiple projects and manage a few others, and delegate work to everyone, including to myself.

I have blogged previously about making lists and using the right tools to keep track of a project's process, milestones and deliverables. My favorite tool is a great new application - a calendar! Another tool I use a lot is the yellow sticky note pad - brilliant!

We tried using MS Project and various other free and non-free pieces of software, but in a small organization you can easily devote hours per week just managing the tools you are trying to use to manage your work. Alas, every organization is different and has different needs.

What has worked the best is relative autonomy. Give someone a task and a deadline, and they generally only seek help when absolutely necessary. Everyone, however, has interruptions - many of which are unavoidable - and these lead to missed deadlines. We can all improve in that department.

Project management, thus, includes a heavy dose of time management. Time management is an acquired skill and perhaps the most difficult one to master.

In summary, project management can take many forms. Personnel management, time management, even equipment management all play a role in moving forward toward deadlines. Some deadlines are a day or two, a week or two, a month or two or years in the making. Something useful yet cumbersome about breaking up a project into tasks, either in MS Project or on paper, is that you can fail to see the big picture - or you are so focused on only the major milestones, that you feel like you are not accomplishing anything, while in fact you are working on a 3 month deadline, which is itself made up of perhaps 50 smaller tasks. But these 50 smaller tasks are not and should not be part of a big picture view of anything. This is the beauty of delegation - you can avoid micromanagement as long as you have a capable person working towards the goal - it is assumed the resource will hit each smaller task.

The challenge is when you are the manager and the resource. Time management indeed!

Thanks for slogging through this one!

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Apr 29, 2008 at 3:28:34 pmComments (1) workflow, project, management, hr


by Jacki Schklar

I need to research project management software in more depth. I'm sure I could do that around here.

I see what you mean about autonomy especially concerning video projects, which I believe is your forte. But is it just me, or do complex websites or interactive projects one require more extensive tracking/data management?

I'm a big "forms" person. I create one or more almost everyplace I work. In the future I'm going to think about GoogleDocs a little more before I start building a form in Excel. I like the idea of people being able to log on from wherever and make changes, in an easy and free environment.

I have a passion for my job, which entails training for medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses and administrators, not to mention various industries.

Technology is great, but how you apply your skills is what pays the bills.

Years ago I canceled my Media 100 support contract upon discovering what a treasure trove of helpful advice can be found on the Creative COW website. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

In my blog I talk a little about media production, a lot about travel and workflow, and occasionally about cooking, nature and my four-legged friends.

Follow me on Twitter: med_ed_mike

I'm also on LinkedIn if you can't get enough of me!


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