Many people are familiar with the term “project management.” Generally speaking, project management is using different tools to help steer the direction of a project to its goals. However, project management can mean something different at every company. If you ask 10 project managers, “What is project management?” you’ll get 10 different answers. This is because the role varies based on the needs of each individual team.
Project Managers (PMs) work across a large range of technology practices, methodologies, and industries. Different methodologies will adapt to fit the company’s needs. No wonder you might be questioning what exactly is entailed in project management! We’ll take a little time to explain what Project Management means here at Soliant and why it is important.
Most importantly, Soliant Project Managers exist to ensure the smooth delivery of client projects. That is easy to say and hard to do. There are many facets to a PM’s job that you may not be aware of, with a lot of behind-the-scenes things that go on in order to ensure projects stay healthy.
Launching a Project
As soon as you, the client, reach out with a project in mind, there are a series of conversations and action items the project manager begins to get your work started.
First, your project manager coordinates staffing for your work to see when your team is available and to let you know when that will be. They must make sure time is appropriately scheduled on the team’s schedule for the duration of the work.
Your project manager will create a contract for you to sign for us to start work together and handle any additional paperwork.
Once the team’s schedules are confirmed and a contract is signed, we will schedule a series of project kickoff calls. If you are new to Soliant and have been working with our sales team, we have an internal call to align the sales and the project teams. The sales team gives the project team all the information they have about the work to do and your company background. Once our teams have met internally, we will meet with you to kick off the project.
Our first call with you is usually an introduction call. We start the call off with introductions and background for everyone on the call. Then we will work through different questions such as licensing needs, non-functional requirements, hosting needs, accessing the database, and additional items to get the work started. We will schedule regular status calls with you throughout the duration of the project. Importantly, we will also align on the goals of the project and make sure we are moving forward in the same direction.
Your Project Manager will set up and give you access to some of our internal tools, Whiteboard and Workbench, which we use to track progress, assist in testing and review, and give feedback on the development. We set up the project spaces internally to track time entry, budgeting, invoicing, Pos, and additional project information. Your Project Manager will make sure all the work is documented appropriately in our different tools.
Project Managers will then oversee the work to make sure things are going smoothly. The PM will set up a variety of Scrum meetings with the development team (Sprint planning, Retros, Standups, Backlog Refinement) to help things move forward and ensure the team has everything they need.
- Sprint planning meetings identify the work teams will develop over the next couple of weeks or “Sprint.”
- Retrospectives are a chance to look at the work completed in the last “Sprint” and adjust and make changes as work moves forward.
- Standups are short touchpoints to keep the team informed about work progress and any problems the PM may need to resolve.
- Backlog Refinement meetings determine the scope and priority of upcoming work. We’re always working on what is most important to the client and your priorities.
Your Project Manager will also check in individually with team members to get project updates, discuss concerns and monitor the team’s stress levels.
It’s important to note that these Scrum and individual meetings are critical to the project work. These meetings ensure the team is moving in the same direction, setting the correct priorities, and making sure work is moving forward. They also help the team by making sure no one is working in a silo and that they are communicating with each other and getting the support they need.
Your Project Manager will help alleviate any blockers the team may come across. A blocker can be any kind of problem. Trouble with accessing a client database, a tricky bug, issues with communication…project managers triage it all.
While caring for the team and setting direction for the work ahead, the Project Manager also communicates with you, the client, to give you updates on where the work is at. We also help in navigating our internal tools as needed, discuss updates in terms of budget and timeline, and keep you up to date on any other risks the project may have. We follow up on admin tasks such as invoicing, outstanding accounts receivable, and monitoring POs.
The project manager may reach out for internal support if the project has identified risks that need to be addressed. Soliant has an extensive team of risk reviewers and risk management tactics that are used where needed on projects.
As part of our ongoing conversations with you, we bring the results of our internal forecasting engine to keep you up to date about where your project is headed in terms of timeline and budget that the Project Manager updates and monitors regularly. We will have conversations with you about the forecasted timeline and budget and the future direction of it and discuss any next steps.
One of the things Project Managers are most known for is making sure that projects run smoothly, but there is so much more that goes into making sure that happens. We are there to make sure that work keeps moving forward and that communication is happening between the client and development teams. We make sure the development team is scheduled appropriately and has the right balance of work.
A Multi-faceted Role
Project Managers wear many hats. We aren’t only Project Managers; we are also Scrum Masters, team supporters, client advocates, and account managers. There is much more to a project manager than just making sure things go smoothly in terms of budget, timeline, and scope.
Project Managers are people who want to see your project be a success. We want to make sure both the client and development team are happy and will do everything we can to make sure everyone stays happy. Project Managers serve both the client and the development team. They help to make sure the team doesn’t become overburdened and make sure client needs are not just satisfied but met beyond expectation. We care about the work that is being done and want to see a positive impact being made to your business. We rally for the project and the team. We continue to take care of the non-development work so that the team can keep doing the work they love to do so that your project and business can be a success.