Pre-conference on Project Management

Project Management: The Prize is in the Process
Helene Blowers – Director of Digital Strategy & Macrina Gilliam – Applications Project Manager from the Columbus Metropolitan Library
Participant introductions – lots of cool people here!
Problems dump – everyone yells out issues they’ve had with projects in the past
Helene – policy, passion & practice
She wrote the book on project management for the Belk Corporation in 1995.
A project is a one-time job that has starting/stopping points, objectives, & defined scope of work.
• Required stuff – time frame, resources & scope
Extremely valuable stuff
o a champion –boss or not, whomever gains the most, will be most supportive
o passion (passion will take your projects really far – farther than project management, really)
• Project managers
o Influence #1 (coordinators – usually not managing people directly – but are influencers)
o Look beyond managers (managers do not have to manage all the projects)
o Communication skills
o Leadership potential
• Strategies are not projects and strategies aren’t projects – if the project doesn’t fit in with the organization’s strategies, why do it?
• 3 questions to answer in a project scope doc – what are we doing? Who is doing it? When are we doing it? And Why are we doing it?
• PM constraints – balancing constraints of time, resources, & scope
Slides will be posted on
Macrina – Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Project Management Life Cycle
Hand-outs that detail the process they use, best practices and checklists of project tasks from their library
Project Management Life Cycle
o Initiate
o Plan
o Execute
o Close
Typical Roles
o Project Sponsor
o Process Owner/Product Owner
o Project Manager
o IT Advisor
o Subject Matter Expert (SMEs)
o “Blue Zone” – project support resources (Marketing, property management staff to help move stuff, etc.) – communicate early with these folks to let them know what they will need to do and can schedule your project and possibly think of things you haven’t thought of
We don’t manage projects, we manage initiatives – Helene speaking of an old job
Project management should be understood throughout the entire organization
10 phases divided among the 4 processes of the life cycle – and opportunities to communicate come through many of them
o Discovery-Prototyping-Beta phase
o Iterative development saves time later
o Increases input and buy-in
o Higher quality result
o let go of being perfect
“Librarians don’t really have the concept of ‘quick & dirty’ do we?” – Mary Auckland
Added a final phase to the process cycle – transitioning project results to the process owner so that there is a “person in charge” and the project’s result continues (web site (content manager type), self-check (circ manager or worker), IM reference (ref staff or manager)) and that the opportunities, user needs and improvement needs are monitored in an ongoing way.
Helene – process owners/project managers (9 people who are blue zone “folks”) meet every Friday to discuss resource shifting and project needs – total buy-in from all throughout the organization. The “blue zone” gets rid of info silos and lets cross-departmental communication happen easily. – handouts and info from slides
Amanda Etches-Johnson – One Person Project Management
Slides –
Handout –
Went to a project management workshop in Feb to help her with her upcoming web redesign project and it changed her life – got lots of great info but realized that as a one-person team only uses parts of the process.
She discussed project management at her library – there are a lot of projects going on at her library and varying levels of PM training with no enterprise PM framework in place (yet). They just named a new special projects librarian and Amanda thinks she’ll start implementing more of a PM culture. Right now, there are no expectations for communication or documentation, no sponsors of particular projects which was both positive (get things done really fast) and negative (no expectations means varying degrees of communication).
Created an advisory committee from the people who she wanted to be on the project team – they have full time jobs, too, though and couldn’t commit to being true team members. Perhaps a true PM culture would have helped?
“Where does the planning stop and the doing start?” – worked on planning, took a while to realize she needed to actually start doing.
Tips to keep you sane:
o Beware over-planning
o Timeline in 1-week chunks
o Deadlines are your friend
Best practices still apply
o Project charter
o Title
o Synopsis
o Scope
o Dates
o Resources
o Stakeholders
o Version control
o Keeps you on track
o Especially important for tech projects
o Watch for scope creep
o Stick to the plan
o More features – more time OR resources (or both)
o Break the project into manageable chunks
o Manage expectations (communication, communication, communication)
o Document
Some best practices don’t apply
o Gantt charts
o Complex PM software
She spent 2 days with advisory committee to get info architecture and first 2 levels of site wireframed – hugely helpful. Amanda also created working groups that were dealing with specific issues and have a short, firm timeline. Mary mentioned that she calls them “start and finish groups”.
Everyone is your project team! Don’t isolate yourself – the whole library can be your project team – they are all invested in the content and functionality of the site.
Question period
From the discussion:
o Shortish projects help keep people from losing interest
o Lessons learned become institutional memory for what works & doesn’t work
o Helene used an email newsletter (with updates from each department or project team members) and the unique communication method made a huge impact
o Too much functionality at once can cause issues with troubleshooting – when things go wrong, you don’t know what exactly doesn’t work, it could be anything that you are working on
o Determine a “main project” and the tentacles that come off of it- and decide if you need those tentacles
o The new generation is going to make us do things their way – and even if we don’t like it, we’ll have to in order to keep our users
Themes from Mary – wrap up times
o The value of planning up-front – but it needs to stop too, create a deadline for planning phase
o Breaking projects into manageable chunks
o Bringing passion into the team
o The PM team is more widespread than you think
o Achieve more communication through influencing than just straight communication (reports, etc)
o High-level sponsors/champions can do your communicating to the top levels for you
o Lots of the stumbling blocks mentioned at the beginning were answered in the presentations
o Managing by consensus/committee – PM process helps to alleviate some of that

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