One of the most important tasks a project manager faces on a daily basis is decision making. Project managers are to make all kinds of decisions ranging in importance and priority levels. So as an efficient and professional project manager, how are you supposed to make the best decision that could ultimately impact a coworker, a customer, or a product? Here are some ways that project managers can make the best decisions by using accurate data.
As a project manager you probably already use tools such as spreadsheets, project programs, or even online web based tools to keep track of projects currently in the pipeline, budgets, tasks, etc. It is also most likely that on a weekly or maybe even daily basis, you run reports, check figures, and follow up on tasks and assignments as necessary. This is a great way to keep tabs on projects at their various stages and to see the overall project process moving.
By keeping records and notes, whether manually or digitally, it is safe to analyze this data and make informed decisions based on this. For example, speaking from a product development perspective, if a team member phones or emails you and expresses concern for a particular customer who may want to change the specifications of his or her product halfway through the project cycle, what are some of the implications that go along with this? How will this impact the schedule? How will this impact the budget? These are things that need to be addressed before getting back to the customer with a firm proposal.
This is your chance to sit down, maybe even discuss the details with the particular team member, and analyze where the project currently is in the life cycle, how much room in the schedule is needed to make the changes, if it will impact delivery and manufacturing time, and how much extra costs will need to be configured into the big picture. By analyzing these reports you are able to make a good decision based on the data provided.
Another way to use accurate data in making decisions is on the front end of the projects. How many projects are in the pipeline? When are they expected to come in? When are they expected to turnover? Are there enough resources to accommodate this? By running reports and keeping records of phone calls or emails from sales representatives or direct customers establishing leads, it is easy to recognize how many projects are expected to hit the office at a certain time. By analyzing this, you can see if you have enough resources to manage the work load. If you’ve established that the amount of resources is going to be an issue, then by analyzing reports and data, you’ve just made the decision that you may need to hire resources or initiate schedule changes among staff and team members in order to accommodate larger work loads.
These are just a few examples of what a project manager faces on a daily basis. Again, decisions can range from different priority and importance levels depending on the project or maybe even the customer. All in all, making decisions is always crucial. One particular decision, which may seem unimportant, could very well endanger the quality of a customer’s product, which could jeopardize your relationship with that customer. However, by using and practicing an organized and effective track system, it is easier to analyze project data and make effective decisions based upon this data.