Project Management: When Should A Project Manager Be Flexible?

Project Managers are often inclined to care more that a job is done according to procedures than about a job being done well. Whilst budgets and schedules are vitally important and you cannot underestimate how essential it is for a good Project Manager to have a clear grasp and control over these elements, people and personality are also an important part of the mix.

Project Management procedures as well as software development procedures are extremely difficult to stick to at all times. You need people to enforce procedures or practices until people get used to them. And if these people cannot see the value in a specific procedure they may never get used to it. What makes a great project manager is knowing what procedures are essential and what details can be flexible.

If something hasn’t happened according to plan, it is actually going to be better for the project to hold a meeting about it and change things that are not essential if to redo something will risk spending more time and money than is necessary. Sometimes it may be better to hold a meeting at the end, after the budget and deadline have been met and discuss as a group what changes you would make next time.

Project Management Methodologies are based on procedures. Prince2, for example, is structured into 8 processes which cover all the activities in the project, 8 components which take up various aspects of project management and 3 techniques. However, there are multitude of techniques which can be used. I am not about to imply that Prince2 training is not a great way to learn about Project Management.

The great thing about Prince2 is that it is a standard, in a large organisation projects need to be managed to the same standard using the same techniques in order for projects to move forward. There needs to be a common understanding about the way that projects are handled. However sometimes so much time is spent on maintaining procedures that less time is spent on work which actually pushes a project ahead.

Whilst it may be important to create good document templates is it essential to spend time going over every detail of new document templates? It needs to make sense – what would be the point of discussing a 5-hour schedule change for an hour with 12 people? Sometimes just to let people get on with things and to hold back and not spend your time and others picking up every detail is what is needed to get a project out on time and budget.

Heather Buckley is Director and co-founder of IT and business training providers Silicon Beach Training. Founded in 1999, Silicon Beach Training run public-scheduled training courses in their Brighton Training Centre as well as bespoke on-site courses worldwide. Popular courses include Social Media Training, Photoshop Training and PRINCE2 Training, which has recently been launched in Birmingham. Heather writes on the Silicon Beach Training blog with a focus on IT, Project Management and Social Media as well as offering Photoshop knowledge from her experience as a photographer.