Being a product manager can bring up a lot of unexpected obstacles when directing diverse teams working together to achieve the same goal. Phil Bias, our resident project manager, has a lot of experience not only working with our team here at Outhouse, but also with our latest client project that took him to Dubai. We sat down with Phil to talk about his job and some tips for project managers that he has learned while in this role.
When working on a project, everyone wants to meet expectations and deadlines. However, the best-laid plans sometimes have unexpected delays. There will be times a project will go longer than anticipated for any number of reasons. Phil recently experienced delays on a project with a client and their team. “Always have a backup plan, then have a backup for that backup” says Phil, “you have to make changes to your original plan and that can be frustrating, but your goal is to complete the project.” Delays can cause you to work more hours, even extending the length of a project by a few days. The key is to know your end goal, understand that problems can arise, and be flexible enough to change your plan and timeline in order to complete the project.
Project managers have to handle new obstacles and have to work to overcome them and find new solutions. Not only do they have to be flexible when it comes to delays in the schedule, they have to understand that things don’t always go according to the original plan. There are times that your project plan can be completely different from when you started to the point of completion. Anything from electrical issues to the weather can cause an issue and an entire new solution needs to be made. This is where the project manager has to change plans on the fly to keep the work moving. Flexibility is extremely important because without it, the project can suffer potentially making it unsuccessful.
Know Your Team
When working with your own team, it is a bit easier as you know how they work and can plan accordingly. However, when working with clients or on other projects, you will have to work with teams that you don’t know and in turn don’t know you. Knowing who you are working with will help your project go more smoothly and help you navigate obstacles easier when they do arise. This is especially true when you are working with other cultures. “Different people and cultures have a different way of life and work pace,” says Phil who recently worked with a team in Dubai, “you need to make adjustments when there are cultural differences that impact how people work.” Take the time to know your team, their culture, their work pace, and their expectations of the project. Phil says that an important key of working with any team is to be respectful of its individuals, but also be a leader and stay firm in order to keep the project moving.
Communication is Key
Working with your own team or remotely with a client has a lot of room for error, so communication is extremely important. “Don’t hide problems that come up. Tell them what issues you are dealing with, and keep the client and your team updated on the status of the project.” However, Phil does caution against too much communication. “Share important milestones and updates, but there is such a thing as too much communication.” Find a balance where you are keeping the important people in the loop and moving the project forward without emailing every five minutes.
Join us next week for our Live Story when we share some exciting new information regarding our latest game along with some cool technology that we are using.