How do people get into project management?It seems there’s a certain personality type for people who become PMs, so if you organized your toys when you were five, you may have what it takes. One panellist said he became a project manager out of self-defence. When he was an editor, he would go around the office and hurry up the writers so that he could go home on time. If you want to move from another type of work into project management, pay attention to the project management tasks you already do and claim those as expertise.
Some project management skills and strategies
- Maintain a real respect for everyone in the project. The project manager needs to know how long tasks take and what’s involved, and most of all, respect the work.
- Be very understanding of other people’s challenges.
- Take note of the things that repetitively take your time, and take the time to automate or streamline those tasks.
- Prioritize the trade-offs between cost, timeline, and quality.
- Ignore problems until they go away. No, really. Have a contingency plan, but remember that some problems will be cancelled out by other problems.
- See problems before they happen. Consider what can go wrong and what you can do about it.
Project managers and freelancers
Working with freelancers is a special challenge for project managers because freelancers are only available for certain blocks of time. If your schedule changes, it often means having to find a different freelancer to do the work.
To stand out as a freelancer, don’t just do the work on time. Check in before the project starts to let the PM know you’re on track and find out whether anything has changed. If you finish early, deliver early! If you’re going to be late, tell the PM as soon as possible. Provide a realistic later delivery date, or provide options for having someone else take over the work. And a little secret: yes, a Friday afternoon delivery is probably functionally the same as a Monday morning delivery. Ask for the weekend if you need it.
The freelance project manager
- Fees: you may charge an hourly rate or make the project management a percentage of the project fee.
- You can present a menu of services, but can get too detailed and complicated. Keep the description of your services fairly simple.
- Whether you charge an hourly rate or not, always track your time so that you learn how long things take.