12 days of Christmas for the digital pm
1. On the first day of Christmas my client sent to me, a Partridge in a Pear Tree
At the start of a project the brief can almost seem unachievable. We’ve all been there and thought how on earth are we going to deliver this? At this stage it’s getting the scoping right and working methodically through all the avenues to get to the right solution.
2. On the second day of Christmas a wise DPM sent to me: Two Turtle Doves
Make peace with your project: sometimes projects don’t always go as we’d like them to. The client overrules you and disregards your best practice and sound experience. People have to learn through their mistakes, and at Christmas time the themes of forgiveness and patience ring true for successful projects. Holding grudges won’t get you very far.
3. On the third day of Christmas my client sent to me: Three French Hens
Speak your client’s language: at the start of the project it will become clear what the client’s pain points and concerns are. Some people are more visual, others more digital, and communicating in a way that works best for your client will pay dividends further down the line.
4. On the fourth day of Christmas my client sent to me: Four Calling Birds
Communication is key: set expectations at the start for availability, regular updates (e.g. every 2 weeks on a Wednesday at 10) and schedule recurring reminders. Even if the project is going to plan, still use the time wisely. Having a short 10-minute update with the client could be an opportunity to discuss wider issues around the project or future requirements.
5. On the fifth day of Christmas my client sent to me: Five Gold Rings
Jump through hoops: in Waterfall projects we can become slaves to the scope and specification, however sometimes we just need to go the extra mile and bite the bullet on that one request that wasn’t factored in. As PM’s we need to be adaptable and that plays out in being flexible with the team and clients. The project might have saved time and resource on one section, so you can afford the little extra. However, this is dependent on knowing the project details, and when it’s right to push back; you could well save yourself a few hoops!
6. On the sixth day of Christmas my client sent to me: Six Geese-a-Laying
Avoid becoming a sitting duck: the worst thing you can do as a PM is bury your head in the sand; you’ll only end up on the firing line. Don’t put off those difficult conversations. Tackling issues head on will build confidence and transparency in the project, and links to point 4 around quality communication.
7. On the seventh day of Christmas my client sent to me: Seven Swans-a-Swimming
Keeping composure: the best project managers are those who seem to have it all under control, they appear elegant above the water. However, underneath this cool, calm, and collected front, we are swimming like mad with a hundred action points spinning around us. A DPM who can keep calm under pressure is a real asset to any team. Prioritisation is the key to swimming like a swan.
8. On the eighth day of Christmas my client sent to me: Eight Maids-a-Milking
Get your hands dirty: I’m not saying become a micro manager, but get into some of the detail, even if it’s asking questions when you’re unsure to build that working knowledge. You’re not expected to know it all but an awareness of all the steps can help. Also support the team; when things are quiet and the project is in hand, ask the team if you can help with anything even if it’s getting stories ready for the next sprint or updating timesheets – getting stuck-in builds credibility with the team.
9. On the ninth day of Christmas a wise DPM sent to me: Nine Ladies Dancing
Don’t celebrate too soon: the first sprint might have gone well, but there’s always a lesson or something to improve on. Check through the retrospective and see where further gains could be made or what could be tweaked to make the project run a bit smoother.
10. On the tenth day of Christmas my client sent to me: Ten Lords-a-Leaping
Test thoroughly to avoid last minute surprises: allowing enough time in the project schedule for the all-important UAT is crucial; with agile this will have been covered at the end of each sprint, but even then a final full-site check can save last minute changes when the internal links don’t work or the form submission doesn’t change.
11. On the eleventh day of Christmas my client sent to me: Eleven Pipers Piping
Focus on the finishing touches: The project is coming to an end and the finish line is in site though there are a few final steps to look at. Are all your notes and reports up to date? Time logged? Having everything in order will make the final project report and de-brief a lot quicker. Also thinking around the handover of controls, logins, CMS training and post warranty maintenance can ease the transition.
12. On the twelfth day of Christmas my client sent to me: Twelve Drummers Drumming
And the drum roll please: you hit the deadline and the project is live! Take a bow and give yourself a pat on the back, keep note of all your learnings and apply them to the next Partridge your client gives you. Who knew the 12 days of Christmas was actually a project lifecycle!