This week I tackle the things I don't know as a project manager—even though it seems like I'm the only one who might not know some of these things!
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Issue #27

What Jon Snow and I have in common

(psst—click Show Images at the top of this email to view this meme!)

If you're not familiar with Game of Thrones, this title is a reference to a phrase uttered over and over to one of the main (and beloved) characters in this show.

Much like Jon Snow, throughout my career I've realized I know nothing. Whether that's a particular project management theory or a practice everyone talks about, there's always something I'm catching up on. Some of this stems from having worked on teams where I learned on the job, some of it comes from not being PMI or scrum certified, and some of it is just plain old lack of experience. Luckily, I know I'm not the only one on a few of these things—so I wanted to share what those are in case you have a few "I know nothing" feelings yourself. 

The Project Plan

With just a quick Google search, the term "project plan" is pretty well covered on several project management blogs. To me, this term has always left me feeling a bit like Jim from The Office when he's been asked to give his boss a client rundown:

I've never created something I would consider a formal project plan—when I write my freelance project plans, I call them proposals, or statements of work, and typically the more structured pieces live outside of the proposal in various places: project management tools, budget trackers, formal/signed contracts, etc. While they all have the same pieces of a project plan, I've never considered it that specifically.

I was talking with a PM friend recently and we both bonded over our mutual lack of formal "project plan" definitions and knowledge. So if you're in the same boat, you're not alone on this one by a long shot.

Gantt Charts

I've admittedly publicly that I'd never created a Gantt Chart before. Until recently, this was still true—but alas, I can't make this claim any longer. I'm not embarrassed to admit that creating my first project Gantt chart only happened last year, when a particular project I was working on seemed like it would benefit from one.

Since I've gone over to "the dark side", I've found Gantt charts extremely useful in forecasting out the project phases, client resources, team resources, and timeline for my projects (which is kind of the point of Gantt charts). Luckily, there are tons of great resources out there if you're creating your first Gantt chart for your project or team as well!

More Reading
  • How many projects do you manage? Louder Than Ten is gathering some data and want to know how many projects you run!
  • Need project management advice? Check out the Ask-A-Project-Manager feature from last week and submit your questions to us for next time.
  • Missed out on the DPM Summit like I did? Catch up on the happenings by following #dpm2017 on Twitter. Speaking of...
  • NEXT WEEK: Check back here for an interview with DPM Summit conference founder Brett Harned!

Other Links
  • I shared some Lessons Learned thoughts and a free template over at The Digital Project Manager a few weeks ago.
  • How to Say No from the Science of People is a great read (and there are lots of other gems on the site!)
  • This Reddit thread asking "What's the dumbest thing you've ever done solely because you were too awkward to do the normal thing?" is making me cackle.
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Copyright © 2017 Natalie Semczuk, All rights reserved.

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