Regardless of how lightweight an organization’s implementation of project management practices is, it’s rare to find project managers that can strike the perfect balance between project management and project administration.
Change and uncertainty for the very essence of projects and this can cause project managers to struggle with juggling competing pressures – do they focus on stakeholder management and removing hurdles from their teams, or do they spend time creating status reports or nagging team members to submit timesheets?
Some project managers do an excellent job of fielding and resolving critical project issues and risks, but through neglect of the more tactical project administration activities, they run afoul of their organization’s project quality assurance standards or worse yet, place their projects at risk through an inability to seamlessly transition their projects in the case of sickness or other causes of attrition.
Others prefer to focus on project administration activities as these are usually low risk and provide immediate gratification, but avoid tackling the really sticky situations that need their attention.
While the former example is certainly preferable to the latter, as with almost everything in the project management domain, there is no absolute truth.
Some tips to address this include:
- Identifying imbalances through oversight or coaching arrangements for PMs. This could include mentoring relationships for junior PMs to boost their confidence when dealing with tricky situations.
- Reviewing the existing implementation of your PM methodology to identify recommendations for
- Leveraging tried-and-true time management practices. This could include identifying the bare minimum set of project administration activities that must be done to satisfy organizational PM standards and then blocking off specific time slots in the week to complete them. On the flip side, it could also mean establishing top three priority lists for the more challenging issues and committing to showing tangible progress against them each day.
- Working with functional managers and senior management to budget for and engage staff that have expressed a desire to step into project management roles as project coordinators and then working with these coordinators to achieve the right balance between over-delegation and micro-management.
Engage a project manager in an academic discussion about the nature of their role and they will likely list both true project management and project administration responsibilities.
As Morpheus told Neo: “There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.“