Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Project Management

I had lunch yesterday with a colleague who had just downloaded new project management software to keep track of the work on his various grants/contracts/projects and to keep track of the work his various people are doing for these projects. I can only imagine that he is in Gant Chart Bliss about now. Everything is organized and all of his students, postdocs, and research scientists are accounted for. Life will be beautiful for him for a while. Until he gets bogged down with all of the things he has to do, and he realizes that he didn’t have time to add a time management upkeep task to his life. The charts will go unmaintained for a few months and everything will be out of date when he gets back to it. He will then have to start over, recreating the entire project management structure again. Bliss will not be a word that he will use to describe this situation. No, he will most likely be in Gant Chart Hell.

Well, at least that’s my prediction for what will happen by this summer. For me, I am not ready for project management software. I have a small enough group that I can keep track of it in my head, for the most part. Yes, I have a calendar that is rather full, and I am very glad that my computer beeps at me to tell me when I am supposed to be doing some things. I am also fortunate enough to receive reminder emails about project progress reports and other management tasks that I have to deal with occasionally. But, as for what should be getting done on the specific grants and projects, I don’t try to over manage it all. Perhaps this isn’t the best option, but people in my team of researchers seem to stay motivated and get stuff done, and things seem to be moving forward at a reasonable pace on most of the projects. I am sure that some could go faster if I were a harder nosed manager with those people, but so far I am willing to allow that slack in the system so that I don’t have to resort to project management software. I don’t want to be sentenced to Gant Chart Hell. That just doesn’t sound fun to me. At least not yet.