How to Stay Flexible as a Manager & Why It’s Important

ProjectManager.com

The only constant in a project is change. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows how important it is to stay flexible as a manager.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference.

learn the tools to help you stay flexible managing a project

In Review – How to Stay Flexible as a Manager & Why It’s Important

When talking about flexibility, Jennifer means being ready and able to change and adapt to different circumstances. In terms of managing projects, there are two poles on the spectrum of how that work is done: agile and waterfall.

Agile is all about change. It embraces change and works its processes around this framework. Waterfall, or other more traditional project management methodologies, follows a strict framework that works to control change. Regardless of the frame around the project you use to manage and control it, there is one thing all projects have in common. That is, they start and end, and in-between those two points is where change occurs.

Related: How to Make a Change Management Plan

Any project manager worth their Gantt chart will know and repeat the mantra, “Change will happen.” They also understand the oft-used adage, “Knowledge is power.” The more you know, the more effective your decision-making, and all successful projects are built by good choices.

What Tools Keep You Flexible?

There are any number of features within many project management software systems that can help you adjust to change and, as importantly, know when a change occurs sooner than later.

  • Dashboard: Like the one in your car, a project dashboard is one screen in which all your metrics are displayed, so you can monitor change and impact across the triple constraint of scope, cost and time.
  • Critical Path: The critical path, or the sequence of stages that determine the minimum amount of time needed to get a task done, is another tool that can help you keep track of variables over the life cycle of a project and see when and if you’re falling behind.
  • Baseline/Rebaseline: There are three basic baselines in project management: schedule, cost and scope. The three together are the baseline of the project, or the fixed schedule representing the standard to measure performance. But that baseline can be redefined, which is what rebaseline is, and it’s a great way to get a project back on track.
  • Collaboration: Collaborative tools get everyone together on the same page and facilitates the process of problem-solving, which is just another way of saying being flexible.

Asking for help is also valid. You can’t do everything by yourself. Having a go-to person, an expert, who you can use as a soundboard can help you lose some of your rigidity and find the flexibility you need to adjust and succeed.

Related: How to Ask for Help on Your Projects

Have some questions in mind when you meet with that person to put the problem in context, such as: “How will this impact us? Is this the change required? How can we minimize risks?” These questions, tied to data from the tools above, will start the conversation and in time offer a direction. But only if you’re flexible.

Pro-Tip: Being flexible is one thing, but leading that change is another. Having the ability to lead change on a project is essential to successful flexibility. Know the various organizational types, such as developmental, transitional and transformational change.

Thanks for watching!

Transcription

Today, we’re talking about how to stay flexible as a manager and why it’s important. Why I get this question all the time is how to remain flexible when everything is changing.

So, first of all, I want to get clarity on the word, “flexible” and what it really means. So, flexible is ready and able to change and to adapt to different circumstances.

So, in some environments, we have the agile environment and the waterfall environment when we’re talking about projects. Well, agile, just by nature, things are changing. That’s how agile works. And then, the waterfall, things also happen there too.

So, what happens during a project and when we’re talking about changing and being flexible? So, what happens is a project starts and there’s an end date. And during some course of the time, some change happens. So then, what do we do?

So, I say, “First of all, just have the mantra.” Change will happen in every project, no matter what. When you make the plan, it’s always going to change. And we put things in place so that we can accommodate for those.

So, we need some tools. And I say, “Knowledge is power.” So, tools can help us have the knowledge that we need during the course of the project to make good decisions and remain flexible.

So, what are some of these tools look like? Well, first of all, we need some dashboards. And why do we need those? So, dashboards can help us monitor change and see what kinda impact it has.

Depending upon what tool we have, we’re able to put different scenarios in and we can test it. Like, if we change dates or if we change different variables, maybe some human resources, different people, and what happens when we make those changes?

So, some of the things that we look at, we look at the scope, how does the scope change? How does the cost change and even some of the time? So, if we have dashboards that help us monitor that, then it helps us make better decisions.

One thing we wanna look at specifically is the critical path. So, if variables are changing during the course of the project and it really doesn’t impact the critical path then, we know then we’re okay. So, again, knowledge is power. And if we keep our eye on the critical path, then it really helps us make better decisions.

We also want to consider baselining and rebaselining. So, this helps us remain flexible. Sometimes, people aren’t really aware that we can rebaseline. So, if different variables change and you put it before your change control board and they approve those changes, then it’s really important to rebaseline.

That way, it helps you to relax as a manager and remain more flexible because you have received the approval that you need to do that.

Also, collaboration tools enable us to problem-solve real time. So, you get the people involved who are the experts in what’s happening. And they can help get everybody on board and help be creative to solve the problem.

We also need to know… It helps me to have my go-to person. So, on my project for different areas, I know who my experts are that I go to that can help me assess. I ask them specific questions.

So, I’ll ask them, “How will this impact us,” again, looking at the dashboards. But I want my subject matter experts and my go-to people to help me assess in different terms how that’s gonna impact the project.

And then also, I wanna know is this change that’s occurring, is it required? You know, sometimes, it’s not required. And there’s nothing really driving or demanding that change. And if not, then sometimes we can prevent the change.

And then, we also wanna know how can we minimize the risk? So, I know for myself, if I know that I have a plan in place to evaluate those risks and put a plan in place to handle them, makes me as a manager more flexible.

So, if you need a tool that can help you stay flexible as a manager, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.com.

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