PM101 For Small Business – Liesl Barrell

In my search for project management information for the small business I found a video posted on by Liesl Barrell that I think offers a lot of good information.  She is a dynamic speaker and quite entertaining to listen to, so although the video is almost fifty minutes long I found that the time went by quickly.

She currently works as a project supervisor at Twist Image, a digital marketing agency so most of her project examples are from the perspective of managing digital projects.

Here is a recap of some of the things she talks about in her presentation:

Some of the characteristics of a good project manager:

  1. A PM should be flexible but firm.  Understand that your deadlines are important but inherently arbitrary.
  2. Be a catalyst – make a better, faster, purer product.
  3. Have the ability to be Socratic with the mindset that “The only thing I know is nothing”.  People hate working with PMs who assume they know the answer to an issue.  You know enough to drive a project forward but you don’t dictate the solution, you suggest and then you wait and see wait and see what you get from your team.
  4. Don’t be Santa – your job is not to be a salesperson in disguise.  If you are only representing one group’s point of view you are a proxy not a PM.  You need to advocate for the client, team, bosses and best practices.
  5. Remove Obstacles – you should touch base often with team members to find out how you can help them and to give them plenty of opportunity to tell you if there are issues or delays early.

Must haves for every project:

  1. Scope – SOW (Statement of Work) – you have to define what you are doing with who you are doing it with.  This should be done upfront.
  2. Objectives – KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) – these are important so that you can measure how you did.
  3. Budget – define not only the amount you have for your project but also what the context of the budget is.  Is it fixed? Flexible?
  4. Timeline – this should include milestones and targets.  You should understand what is fixed or flexible as well as what your target dates are.
  5. Communication Plan – this can be formal or informal but communication is very important. She mentions templates for getting the right information out of your client, using any medium you can to connect the right people to get things answered, and recap e-mails to make sure that spoken agreements are captured in writing.
As a final point she speaks to the importance of keeping the project moving.  It is more important to keep the project progressing than to win battles and prove you are right.

These are just a few items that she talks about in the video so take a look.


One thought on “PM101 For Small Business – Liesl Barrell

  1. Pingback: Matthew Burpee » Blog Archive » Weekly Digest for April 11th

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