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Frequently Asked Questions

These common questions and their short answers are taken from Brett Harned’s book Project Management for Humans: Helping People Get Things Done. You can find longer answers to each in your copy of the book, either printed or digital version.

  1. I’m not a project manager. In fact, I know nothing about what project managers do. Can you tell me a little more about it?
    The role of a PM can certainly be a mystery—particularly when it’s not done well. There are specific characteristics that make a great PM, like being a clear, calm communicator, or adaptable and flexible. And there are a ton of tasks that many PMs take on, such as creating estimates, crafting process, and reporting on project status among others. It’s equal parts technical and soft skills. Check out Chapter 1, “You’re the PM Now,” for the full details on what makes a good project manager.
  2. I keep hearing about Agile, but I can’t tell if it’s right for me. Is it?
    People tend to think that Agile means “fast,” but in the context of project management, it’s a formal method that is characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent iteration and adaptation to meet a goal. It’s made up of formalized roles and meetings or “ceremonies” that help guide projects. There is a lot to consider when adopting a new process: project types, goals, budgets, and people. It’s best to learn a little about other processes and discuss the pros and cons with your team before just diving in. To learn more about project management methodologies and digital project management principles, check out Chapter 2, “Principles over Process.”
  3. I’m terrible at estimating projects. How can I get better?
    Hey, creating accurate estimates is tough work. As the word “esti- mate” implies, there is a lot of guesswork involved. However, if you want to get closer to a really good estimate, you should examine projects or tasks and break them down into subtasks to determine a level of effort. You’ll find that information in Chapter 3, “Start with an Estimate.”
  4. I’m nervous about talking to my client about how our project is going to be over budget and probably late. Do you have any tips for how I can handle this?
    You’ve got to be comfortable addressing sensitive or difficult issues head on when you’re leading projects, because they tend to come up quite often. Whether you’re worried about scope creep or you need to address a performance issue with a team member, it’s best to take a measured approach that is empathetic and gets straight to the point in order to resolve it quickly. Check out Chapter 9, “Setting and Managing Expectations,” to learn about how to set and manage expectations better in order to avoid some of these conversations, and Chapter 8, ”Navigating the Dreaded Difficult Conversation,” for some tips on how to navigate the conversation itself.

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