Have you ever got another PM on your project for help? Maybe you were this PM who joined a Project? Can 2 PMs exist on a Project or is it gonna be a flight or a fight?
Hey Crizpers, let’s consider a case when we are getting two PMs on a single project. Why might this happen? Does a Project really require that? If you have ever been in this kind of situation, let me know in comments. What were the greatest challenges for you? And here, let’s discuss how to become supporters and not fighters.
2 PMs – Why and When
When a Project might require two Project Managers to work on it together? This is obviously not a backup or transition situation, so let us think on the moments when a Project may demand two managers to be engaged simultaneously.
One of the most common situations is a top-priority project that requires special attention or an extremely large project. If this is something we have put all counters on, we definitely do not want this operation to fail. Therefore, having two project managers on this kind of Project would help to prevent certain kinds of risks. For instance, it gives effective backup. If one of the managers is going to take time off, another one would not need to spend time familiarizing him / herself with the project. Besides, we are minimizing the risk of information loss. And also hoping that four eyes are more efficient than two.
Another scenario when a company might be forced to keep two PMs on one project is when one of them was getting along extremely well with a customer for en extended period of time, but due to some reasons he or she does not have enough capacity for this particular project. As a customer already trusts this Project Manager and maybe even requested to have this person on a project, the company needs to manipulate the resources and to add more management forces to keep all the projects on track efficiently. For more details about the project efficiency check out the Project Management KPIs article.
A decision for adding one more manager to the Project might be caused by a necessity of enhancing the experience of one of them. A junior is either being added to a Senior for busting up his or her skills while shadowing the master and assisting in the management activities; or a Senior is being added to the Junior one on a Project for supervision and assistance. In both cases the company is aiming to grow up internal resources and to secure a Project.
There is a probability that one of the managers has made a request for an additional PM resource in order to keep the performance on top and to keep the project on track efficiently. This might happen either due to the PM’s juniority; or due to the project size; or due to the overloading on other projects and activities. Anyway, this case is also realistic. And, by the way, asking for help is not something you should be ashamed of. If this request is reasonable and aiming to keep the project performance high, most likely you will get the help needed.
In any case we might face a combination of all the situations listed above. I am not going to touch base on the moment when one of the managers is being under an acquisition due to the low performance. Well, this is life and such cases might also have place. However, in any of the situations a company is aiming to save a Project and to cover all possible backs. Therefore, as Project Managers we are aiming to deliver the outcome as much effectively as possible; to get one more Project coin to our experience box; to grow up professionally and reach our bold goals.
Fight or Happy Together
Finally no matter the reason is, we have fallen in a situation when there are 2 PMs on a Project. This is not the most common case, thus let’s find out how to fly and not to fight. Here we come again to Communication (Speaking out loud article). And, to the Project Management skills (Who the Project Managers are article).
Measure the Swords
At such moments the most wise approach would be to perceive yourself as a Project resource and to work on the Resource Management Plan modification. The most crucial and useful thing that we can do now is to plan the Project Management resources allocation and assignment.
Imagine, you have two engineers, or two designers. How would you approach the means? I bet you are not going to assign both people to the same task as this would be a useless and unreasonable loss of time and funds which would lead to a huge mess and inefficiency.
Let us perceive Project Management resources in a similar way. Therefore, 2 PMs need to sit down together and communicate. Put the list of the Project Management activities and tasks on the table and discuss your strengths. Define which tasks you would be the most comfortable to perform.
At the end of the day we want a Project to succeed and therefore should exploit the strongest parts from your experience here. This will provide a possibility to deliver a project even more efficiently than you have done before, and to bust up skills that might have required improvement.
Build a Strategy
Being precise and strategic would help to collaborate effectively. You have identified where you are a strongest performer. Time to check out the capacity and to share the tasks between two of you in the most adequate and effective way. Try to exploit this opportunity and distribute tasks according to your availability.
As Project Management resources define the areas of responsibility similar that you do for other team mates based on the skills, experience, capacity and level of seniority. For instance, if someone is responsible for budget and funds, then another person should take care of schedule and resources. Define, who is going to lead meetings, which meeting should you attend together (check ‘Do you really need a Meeting’ article) , who is going to report to the customer and to the key stakeholders. Try to clarify the accountabilities and to distribute as much nuances as possible. Finally, we are here to perform, not to disturb each other.
The crucial thing while working together is to clearly separate the areas of the responsibilities AND to document them. Beware of the following two things: work redo & unassigned activities.
During the time you are communicating about the activities you are going to take care of individually and collaboratively, make sure to record all this and to put the information in an accessible storage
Check that no activities are assigned to both of you unless it is really necessary, otherwise this MUDA will eat a lot of extra time and funds.
Outline, where the project information is going to be stored to be accessible for both of you on demand. Define who and when is able to modify this information. Or at least, clarify that if someone is going to change the Project Knowledge, he or she should inform another PM about it in a timely manner.
An additional tip on the top of above, once you are clear about the responsibilities between you two, make sure to setup a meeting with the team. Believe me, same as you were puzzled about the situation initially, the team is be confused too. You need to make it transparent for peers how are you going to collaborate in this entity. And what is important, the team needs to know, who exactly should they address their inquiries to – outline the areas of accountability each of you is taking over.
Now tell me if you have ever been in such a situation? If yes, were you the one who was added to the Project, or the one who gets assistance? Tell me what challenges have you experienced at this time!