Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Being Lazy

I am a fairly lazy Project Manager - and yes, I read the blog and have read the book. I have been this way since the early days as a developer and it was encouraged by my mentor. A good example of this laziness is that I used to write code that enabled the user to configure systems rather than them coming back to me for changing settings and configuring keywords.

This laziness has followed throughout my career and is now working for me in the world of Project Management, for example, I use the tools available to me to automate as much as possible. At my current client site, I have a standard corporate weekly project report to complete each week which contains many figures taken from various systems. In each system I have written a mini-report to provide me with a set of figures ready for me to plug-in to the weekly report. In turn, all of these figures are then calculated automatically, giving totals and graphs, without me having to re-input figures in various worksheets. The weekly report used to take about an hour to write, now it takes 15 minutes. This is what I mean by lazy.

As a developer, I used to ensure all of the categorisations and lookups would be driven from user input. By this, I mean the application would have a set of configurable keywords to enable the user to categorise their data in which ever way they wanted. This would mean that all of the helpdesk calls that would probably end up in my in-tray, would no longer be required as the user would be able to add and remove content as required.

Excel is a great tool to help with laziness. I use many spreadsheets as a Project Manager to track certain aspects within my projects, so I ensure I use it to the full potential and use it to complete formulas automatically and to update tables and graphs for me. An example is the weekly status report I mentioned above. I was once an MS Access developer, so I can automate even further with linking tables to spreadsheets to pull in and calculate data for me, leaving me to "be lazy" and continue with other tasks.

Automating calculations with tools is something that I recommend on a daily basis to my colleagues. A recent example was when my Programme Manager needed some high level estimates of a project plan. My fellow Project Manager suggested some dates and together they built a small presentation around the findings. I could see that both the Project Manager and Programme Manager did not have the relevent information and calculations to make sure the estimates were correct. To keep it simple, I suggested that I took the information they had and placed it into a quick Project Plan, using MS Project which would result in the clear picture being calculated for us in a quick and simple manner. This sounds simple, but it is using a tool to complete a tool's job.

This is not being lazy, but it is using a tool to complete a task in a quick and efficient manner.

The Pareto principle (commonly known as the 80–20 rule) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. As a PMP, we have to understand the Pareto Rule for the exam. Does this rule mean that a Project Manager can do 20% of the work to cover 80% of the delivery? Well, in a way this is true, but it is not. Much of a Project Managers time is taken up with communication, of which only 20% of the reports are actually read. If you concentrate and work hard at the beginning of a project to find the requirements for communication for your stakeholders, you will find that your effort will be spent more effectively on delivering the required products.

Being lazy does not means sitting, surfing the web, reading books and not doing any work. It means streamlining your work to concentrate on the important 20% of your tasks that will deliver 80% of your project requirements. The other 20% of the requirements will be completed in the remaining time, ensuring that the import work is completed first.

Being lazy, is being efficient with your time and resources. Be lazy and be more productive.

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