How project managers can build fantastic assets
A lot is expected of a project manager. Beyond the obvious of delivering projects seamlessly, on time and within budget.
Often there is a myriad of other elements that will mean the project is either an absolute nightmare of unknowns and moving targets OR it’s an enjoyable process of progress.
A lot is expected of a project manager. Beyond the obvious of delivering projects seamlessly, on time and within budget. Often there is a myriad of other elements that will mean the project is either an absolute nightmare of unknowns and moving targets OR it’s an enjoyable process of progress.
As the PM within a fast-paced and growing business, there are lots of moving parts, undefined processes and gaps to fill. If assumptions aren’t questioned and details not explored, we’ll be building a ticking time bomb of complexity.
Have you ever wanted a detail and not had the foggiest of where to start looking for it? Or have you ever been asked by a client for a quick response and your gut sinks because you know it SHOULD be a simple ask to send them the file but have no idea where to start? I have.
It’s in these moments where I wished I’d taken a moment to create a consistent folder structure, naming convention or checklist to ensure that this information was easy to manage. Taking the time to do the thinking and hard work now will pay dividends in the future, not just for me, but for the whole organisation. Any systems or process have to work beyond me. I can’t be the single point of failure, now or in the future and neither can you.
Building assets is key
Whatever the project, I apply the same principle of documenting the work that I’m doing, creating checklists or templates and making sure they are saved in a sensible place that is accessible for the rest of the team, with clear instructions for use. This not only means that I don’t get asked questions all the time, but it also takes any reliance on the system/process to work away from me. If people spot a better way of doing things, they can also update it. The process becomes live and the efficiencies build over time.
So, whether that’s a folder structure, meeting agenda template, proposal template, checklist, how to guide or venues database; they are all things I’ll class as assets. Once created, these are all assets that can be used again and again and refined to become better and better.
Creating an asset is as simple as writing down the process you’re following. Creating a checklist for a social media post. Creating a Google Map with venues you like to use. It doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) an arduous or complex process.
Reduce your rework, provide greater clarity and make your life easier
If you’re keen to reduce your rework, provide greater clarity and make your life easier in the future I’d recommend the following…
Start making notes. Lots of them. I make notes as I’m doing the work (I do this on my laptop, but handwritten notes would work too), when I’m done, I go back to my notes and review them to make sure that there’s nothing I’ve changed or missed, then turn them into a clear list of steps to follow for next time.
Create ‘How To’ guides… A recent example of this is a ‘How to’ guide I put together for adding blogs to our website. Before writing it all down, it was knowledge that only existed in my head. Each time I’d add a blog I’d be rattling off the checklist in my head, ‘Did I add the header image’, ‘Have I set the author’ etc.
Ask the question – If I left the business now, would someone else be able to do this consistently? Drawing out all of the information on adding blogs to our website and turning it into a step by step guide was a great feeling; not only to have the process written down but removing the single point of failure. Now anyone within the business can use this asset to add blogs to our website.
Why it’s important…
As a project manager, it’s in my blood to love a good process, but I appreciate it’s not everyone’s cup of tea or go to way of working. To help you along the journey, here are some reasons why creating assets are important:
You can note down how/why you reached a decision, which will save you time next time you revisit that piece of work, i.e. we decided on X approach because of Y.
You can save yourself so much time and effort in trying to retrace your steps every time you repeat a process as it’ll already be written down.
Remove the Single Point of Failure
Often when the knowledge on how to do something sits with one person, everything can come to a standstill if that person is out of the business. By having the right assets in place, the business can continue to run smoothly.
What assets do you need to start creating? What rework do you need to stop doing? How do you need to change how you’re currently working? I’d suggest taking a moment to think about these and prioritise a couple of key areas to create some assets.
When you’ve created your first asset, test it and reuse it and let us know how it goes!