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The Dont's of LIMS Project Management

October 26, 2017 / by Vanessa Ford

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Last week we issued our blog on the Do's of LIMS Project Management, and now that you're familiar with best practice, you can find here what we highlighted as NOT to do when managing a LIMS project.

Let the Project Manager do everything

A Project Manager’s role is as a facilitator, supporter, team organiser, task organiser and project voice.  Sometimes a Project Manager may take on specific project tasks, but these are normally limited.  As a Project Manager you should remain focussed on the team’s activities as a whole, rather than your own, to ensure:

  • Holistic view of team progress;
  • Dedicated time for keeping project planning and reporting information up to date;
  • Dedicated time for preparing before and after meetings without interruptions;
  • Prevent the development of tunnel vision.

To do this you need to have the skills to:

  • Understand the skills of the project teams;
  • Allocate resource appropriately;
  • Challenge the team should they allocate work to you which they are capable of performing;
  • Challenge the Key Stakeholders and Sponsor to allocate a dedicated Project Manager allowing you to concentrate on the delivery of individual tasks.

In order to look after the team you need to be focussed on the team. 

Make uncommunicated assumptions in your project plan

Uncommunicated assumptions in a project plan carry a high risk of significant project delays or alienating the team members on which the assumptions impact. 

As you compile a project plan (possibly a result of project activity brainstorming sessions) you may identify additional activities, potential owners, or a project dependency but the relevant people are not available to ask.  In such cases it is acceptable to add assumptions to the plan, following up with communication of the draft plan (to the appropriate team members), noting any assumptions or questions which you may have. 

This communication could be clearly stated assumptions, caveats or unknowns distributed to the team in an email containing the plan, and a follow up with a project plan review meeting (or as part of the Project Update meeting); this approach will ensure everyone is provided an opportunity to comment before assumptions become rate limiting steps.

If ‘assumptions’ cannot be resolved by the project teams, then they should be recorded as project risks and escalated, mitigated or monitored appropriately.

Drop meetings because there is no update

Status meetings are an important part of any project, whether these are with the project team, Key Stakeholders or the wider business.  Ensuring these meetings are effective and provide value is an important part of being a successful Project Manager.

As a Project Manager you should consider the objectives of each meeting type when setting up the initial project meeting frequencies.  Understanding the purpose of the meetings will assist in setting relevant intervals, and guide when the meetings should be initiated.

Meeting frequencies, attendees and subject matter will alter during the course of a project.  A key skill for a Project Manager is the ability to predict project meeting requirement changes and alter recurrences before meeting cancellations (with regards to a lack of update) are required.

Meeting cancellations for other reasons will be inevitable, but predicting the frequency is within your control and can be driven by the project plan.  If the project has progressed to a stage where there is nothing to report at project update meetings, you need to consider if the meeting frequency was appropriate, and use it as a lesson learnt for the next project. 

Be rigid and inflexible

If a Project Manager is rigid and inflexible it is likely that all, or a combination of, the following will occur:

  • The team will stop communicating with you;
  • The team might be selective in their communications;
  • People may behave to you as you behave to them - causing conflict;
  • The team may go off and do their own thing;
  • Project delivery is negatively impacted.

As a Project Manager you’re not working as a one man show.  In the team, you will have multiple personalities to deal with, and some of the team members may be reticent to accept change or indeed work on the project because of its impact on their day to day role. 

Welcome ideas and thoughts from everyone; try to incorporate feedback from any difficult influences.  Whilst it is not thought possible to dramatically shift opinion by showing flexibility it may encourage others to shift to a common ground.

The application of flexibility also applies to the acceptance of change, as a Project Manager you have a team to look after, and it is your responsibility to help them deliver.  To gain continued respect from Key Stakeholders and team members, a professional, flexible approach to the management of project changes will have a positive influence on the team and identify you as an individual that can be relied on.

Keep stakeholders in the dark

Different types of Stakeholders will have varying communication requirements.  Creation of a communication plan could be useful to set out when different groups of Stakeholders might receive updates, or what might trigger an update.

Key Stakeholders (individuals who have endorsed and hold budgetary control over the project) will require concise high level updates and prompt communication of issues which impact on time and on budget delivery.  This group will be making business decisions based on information which you have provided.

Project Stakeholders will be those individuals included in some or all the project teams.  As Project Manager, it is important you promptly assess project changes and communicate appropriately (which may be outside of scheduled project meetings) to avoid members of this group performing unnecessary or incorrect work.  Project Stakeholders may hear about changes or issues at the same time or before you, therefore timely assessment and communication of changes prevents assumptions and rumours.

 

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Topics: Project Management, deployment projects, LIMS

Vanessa Ford

Written by Vanessa Ford

Vanessa Ford is a Project Manager within Broughton Software. A Science graduate and Quality Management post graduate with a project management and medical device manufacturing background, Vanessa started her career within analytical and microbiology laboratories before moving into manufacturing process development. Within the past 17 years Vanessa has successfully designed and installed a number of new manufacturing processes within the medical device and biologics industry. Since joining Broughton Software, Vanessa has been committed to sharing her process and project management skills within the business and with her clients to ensure effective planning of activities and review of business processes.