If you’ve ever worked for a project manager (or heaven forbid, you are one like me), then you know we love processes.  We like to plan ahead, bring stability and keep things moving forward.  All these things require processes that let everyone on the team know what to do.

I love processes just as much as the next project manager.  I have my favorite processes too: daily team stand-up meetings, task-tracking, and of course, roadmaps and schedules.

A word of caution, though, to those who love processes: You must be willing to be flexible.

Processes, just like any other workplace staple, need to be reviewed.  If you keep hearing “Why do we do it this way?” and you can’t justify why, it’s time to rethink your processes.  And just like other fields (engineering, marketing), you’ve got to keep up with the times.  Too often team members hear “Well, that’s the way it’s always been done.”  This answer may have worked well 10 years ago or even 1 year ago, but project managers must be savvy to new techniques and be willing to try them, even if it might cause temporary disruptions.  I advocate team reviews of what worked and what didn’t after a project has completed.  That’s a good time to take a hard look at your processes and see what needs to be changed.

A lot of people I’ve worked with aren’t huge fans of processes at first.  “They just slow me down” is a common complaint.  However, you don’t see these same people talking when things are running smoothly with the process they’ve instilled. On the flip side, though, it makes a project manager’s job even more vital to instill only good processes in their team workflow.  If it doesn’t work for the team, they’ll resist changing to new, better processes in the future, and that can slow you down.

-Deborah Fike

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