Managing a software delivery project, as you may have already found from reading this guide, leaves no scope for complacency. You need to keep you wits about you at all times.
There will be times where everything seems to be going right; your team are on target, the customer is onboard, the budget is on the nail. In some ways this is the time you should be extra-vigilant.
Projects generally don’t coast down the highway of delivery, they need to be driven.
So, in the times when things aren’t going wrong for you and you’re spending a lot of time fixing problems, make sure the team don’t lift the foot from the pedal too much. That’s not to say you can’t ease off a little, especially if you’ve been buring the midnight oil for a period, the guys need to have a chance to draw breath. But make sure it doesn’t ease off too far or you’ll find it hard to get things going again.
Keep a look-out for people coming in late and leaving early, keep an eye on the productivity levels, keep an ear open for the chat on the shop-floor. If it’s beginning to look like things are getting a bit too relaxed, it’s probably time to kick it up a notch or two, but do it subtly.
Maybe suggest the guys get ahead of the game to give scope for coping better with problems that may arise later. Perhaps get them to look at clearing the decks of some of those little tasks that got put to the side when things were busy. Even a bug-blitz to get the stats looking better. All of these things are relatively painless and deliver that little it of extra value to the pot for your project as a whole.
As mentioned previously, there are times in your career where you will, sometimes through no fault of your own, be on the receiving end of a kicking.
Conversely, there will be times when you find yourself in the position of being able to give one out.
This will be a true test of your mettle in terms of the kind of Project Manager you choose to be. Are you going to be the kind that turns into a Tazmanian devil and rips up the furniture in a blur, leaving everything in your wake destroyed, and a lasting impression?
Perhaps that’s not the best way to gain the respect of your peers and team, after all you likely need to work with these people again, don’t you?
Sometimes the more subtle approach is called for. Besides, if you’ve hand-picked your team and taught them well in the ways of software delivery, then they probably know that they deserve a kicking and will be beating themselves up enough about it. Perhaps a quiet word will be sufficient to steer the ship back on course.
In any case, just remember; what goes around comes around, and your next kicking may not be too far off.
As you go though your life in Software Project Management, you’d best learn how to take a kicking. For, as sure as eggs is eggs, you’re going to get a more than a few in your time. The thing to remember is not to worry about it, and never, EVER “go off with stress”.
When a kicking is heading your way, find the biggest technical manual in the office, stuff it down the back of your trousers, bend over and brace yourself. Above all, remember the wise words of Boris Becker after losing at Wimbledon: “I only lost a game of tennis, nobody died”.
Probably best not to use this phrase out loud during the kicking but keep it in mind throughout.
As your experience grows, your ability to see them coming will improve and you will be able to better prepare yourself for them.
The bottom line is, take it like a man, your time will come.