Drupal project management isn’t about the great project modules and tools available. It’s about the team and how it’s managed.
“The P in PM is as much about people management as
it is about project management.” —Cornelius Fichtner
The Drupal project manager’s objective, along with the team's, is to bring the scope of a Drupal project to completion. This needs to be done while keeping the project on time and budget; that’s the name of the game. Luckily, here are nine tips that can help you do this.
1. Prepare: You’re Taking Over
No matter what methodology you are using or what type of project you are working on, Drupal or otherwise, preparation is essential. Make sure you’re in line with the client, you’ve got to be crystal clear on objectives and timeframes.
"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail"—Benjamin Franklin
Include your team in the planning and preparation process. This will enable you and your team to know how long things are going to take. You’ll be able to identify conditions and interdependencies. And after all, your team is based on Drupal experts.
Their input is critical to understanding what can be delivered and by when. Any small misunderstandings here can quickly snowball later. By including them here, you also gain needed perspectives for architecture, development, and quality assurance.
2. Embrace Your Role
You need to draw out the best work your team can offer, and you’re their prime motivator, mentor, and coach. Embracing your role as a Drupal project manager starts with creating a healthy team atmosphere, one in which everyone will thrive.
“Leadership is not wielding authority it's empowering people”—Becky Brodin
With this in mind, remember that you represent the whole team when you face the client. Embracing the captain’s role means doing it in every regard including representing your team.
3. Focus The Scope (…And Refocus)
As a Drupal project manager we need to keep stakeholders happy and developers busy. New requirements and scope updates are a good thing. Changes are inevitable in a project, and you need to find that balance between maintaining flexibility and assessing risk. Additions to scope creep in and, with the right information, you can make them fit with minimal risk to your timeline and budget.
But often, a few tiny little changes, the ones that initially seem like just a few tweaks, add up to more. Don’t lose your head in the process. If these Drupal project additions are significant, the need for a contractual change will be visible.
They key question to keep in mind regarding changes to do now or later; are these changes for the right product needed?
4. Avoid Temptation: Micromanagement
Here’s something for all of you Drupal developers who shift to Drupal project management: Don’t get involved in the coding. A project manager doesn’t need to be concerned, obsessing over every jot and tittle. There is a balanced team in place for a reason. Allow them to do their job.
Managing the project is a full-time gig. If you take your eye off the ball and get desecrated with the details, you’ll be paying for it. Besides, if you’re a micromanager, it won’t be long before you experience unexpected turnover.
5. Eat Up The Feedback
Don’t be afraid to get feedback from team members, stakeholders, or anybody else. When it comes to using retrospectives or surveys, be open to what’s being said.
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”—Ken Blanchard
Admitting mistakes and accepting constructive criticism is leading by example. The rest of your team makes them, and so do you. Making the project about your pride is never a good idea. Feedback helps you become better than you were yesterday. How else can you expect to become otherwise?
6. Don’t Discount Your Preference
There are plenty of digital tools out there (especially for distributed Drupal teams) that can help organize yourself. But don’t forget the pens, paper, and sticky notes. Regardless of your preference, it comes down to a few basics. The simplest of all of these? The list.
Drupal project management tools rock but old fashioned lists survive. While maintaining a daily and a weekly objective list might come off as pretty silly in today’s world, but it works. This isn’t just a to-do list it’s a motivator. Marking items as done will create satisfaction and maintain drive.
7. Make Time Management More Visible
Now, juggling comes into play. If you’re a Drupal project manager, you better be good at managing your own time, because you’re also managing everyone else’s. Almost everything can be broken down into small tasks, and that’s good news. Even the most complex projects are a mass of small tasks. Breaking things down into small tasks for yourself and your team visualizes progression.
Drupal project management for us (and many others) is an international thing. So if you’re like us, then you’re dealing with global challenges that don't need to be complicated with unknown schedules and intentions.
8. Communication: 90% Of Drupal Project Management
You need to ensure that both the stakeholders and the team are kept proactively in the loop. Making it more complex, there may be several loops. The most important thing is to keep the stakeholders privy. Communication and trust are synonymous here.
If there’s a delay, early communication with stakeholders is best. Maintaining high levels of trust will increase confidence in the project team and ensure a smoother project flow.
Here’s a great piece of advice: Never let it get to the point where they come looking for you. Be proactive.
Create a secure forum for the team, with the team; that will enable members to communicate freely about any project issue. Closed communication doesn’t work and is always a detriment to Drupal project management. Open communication prevents mistakes or misunderstandings from spiraling out of control.
As the project manager, if there’s a conflict it’s your job to resolve it. Open communication plays into this because if something’s awry, you make the call on whether to take the discussion offline or address in the forum.
9. Bring The Project To Life
I left the best for last: make it fun! Have a laugh and enable Drupal team wellness. Bonding with your colleagues is important. Being sure you take time out of your day to ask them about themselves is a must. Depending on the project, why not add in a game? Working in a remote team like ours makes this all the more necessary.
Remember: Everything’s A Project
Drupal project management isn’t just a career it’s a mindset. I find myself addressing everything as a project. From a headless Drupal project to my kids’ birthday parties. If you can learn to see the world like tasks, you’ve got it.