As the Project Manager, you have a unique perspective on the project and can steer the project in the right direction by making the right day-to-day decisions. We’ll discuss some important things that you should be doing to increase your team’s efficiency and keep your team’s performance at a high level.
You will undoubtedly have issues and bugs to deal with when working on a product that is live and in active development. Triaging bugs quickly and accurately is key to managing them effectively, avoiding getting bogged down with excessive bug time or frustrating users with delayed fixes. There are three keys to making sure this happens.
- The bug report must have clear, reproducible steps with both expected results and contrasting actual results. Many times, the person submitting the issue will expect the technical team to automatically know the expected application behavior. After all, they are the experts, right? Often, developer understanding can differ from the expected behavior, especially when it comes to complex bugs. That's why it is crucial that the expectations are laid out in clear, concise detail.
- A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a million. Work with your QA team and support their use of video recordings as much as possible. This makes things easy for both the technical team and the person submitting the issue, as they can talk over their problem and have the report be full of detail.
- There are times when a bug is complex and has a long turnaround time, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be something smaller done to help the user. There may be stop-gap fixes available as options - sometimes even just educating users can go a long way until a final fix can be available.
As the Project Manager, one of your main responsibilities is to eliminate impediments and blockers, so your team can remain productive.
- Communicate blockers immediately. When issues come up, it’s best to loop in the relevant parties and make sure stakeholders know that there is a blocking issue and that you are working through it.
- Update your task board to reflect the blockers. This makes it clear to everyone what the issues are and their impacts.
- Email is never going away and is oftentimes the primary form of commutation between teams or with a client. However, when it comes to decision making and problem-solving, hashing things out over a phone call or in-person meeting is often quicker and more effective. As such, identifying the people that can help and having a short, focused meeting to resolve the issue can be much quicker than chains of emails
Plan Ahead and Prioritize Often
This one may be the most obvious of the list, but it is also the foundation for everything else that you will be doing as a PM. It's imperative to have a plan that you review on a regular basis with the team to make sure everyone is on the same page and that issues and concerns are bubbled up appropriately.
- The plan can be as simple as a backlog of items with high-level points. At the most basic level, the goal is to have structure and a common goal that you are working towards.
- Keep your backlog groomed by reviewing the user stories and bugs in the list. As business priorities change, this is an ideal way to make sure those changes are communicated and handled. Often times an issue that sounds bad might not be a priority because it's impacting very few people, or there is a workaround. Make sure things like these are identified and used to prioritize the work in the queue.
- Don't be afraid to change and adapt to changing business needs as they come up. The end goal is to provide value to the end-user. Goals will change over time as users work with the system and provide feedback.
Don’t be the blocker
Most of the time a Project Manager will be focusing on more than one project at a time. There are days where you will have to focus on one project over another due to urgent issues. In these situations, it is important that there is information in a shared location for the team to access. This will prevent you from becoming a roadblock to your team.
- Document call notes, technical specifications, etc. in shareable locations
- Reference these sharable locations in tickets and emails where possible
- Make sure priorities are clear and nobody is waiting on you to make a decision
- Delegate when it makes sense and give the project team a level of autonomy
In order to succeed as your team’s Project Manager, you will have to come up with ways to keep the team performing at the highest level they are capable of. By using the principles above, you will be able to keep your process efficient by keeping the influx of bugs and requirements smooth and keeping the path clear for your team to succeed. A good project manager not only knows how to triage and organize their backlog effectively but also is an excellent communicator that is singularly focused on enabling their teams' success.