Friday, April 12, 2019

#UNYSLA Spring Conference: Operationalizing Project Management

Emily Clasper, MLIS, PMP (University of Rochester) provided a humorous and iinsightful look at project management.  Her presentation is online (and below) at and it contains more information than she presented in her keynote.

Emily used the story of the old woman, who swallowed a fly, and then swallowing the spider to catch the fly.  Then she swallows a cat, a dog, a goat, a cow, and then a horse.  And then she died of course. (This is a children’s rhyme).  Project management can feel like you’ve solved one problem but the you have another one, that is bigger (like the horse).  Project management is a tool, but you need to consider the problem you are trying to solve.

What is the fly?  It could be:
  • Need to focus on strategic goals
  • Scarce resources
  • Frustration with the pace of change
  • Work is not done efficiently
  • No pathway to truly cross-functional world
Project management benefits can include:
  • Focused on strategic goals
  • Clear objectives
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Faster progress
  • Risk Management
  • Communication tools
She works in a library that has taken a project oriented approach.  They are successful, but it has surfaced unexpected impacts.

Challenges to address when you try to become more project oriented
  • Misunderstand project management - This has to do its setting expectations.  It is not a tool, set of documents,  a task list, a Gantt chart, a single method. It is a methodology and Emily provided her definition (slide 14).  She noted that there is a difference between project work and operational work.
  • Confusion with reporting and authority - managers coordinate the projects, but it will be people in specific silos who do the work. Communication in this structure can be slow. Some organizations use a projectized structure. There are dedicated project managers, who gather people to work on specific projects. In terms of structure, Emily talked about strong, weak, and balanced matrix.  You need to sort our organizational confusion.
  • Communication complexity - You cannot skimp on communication.  The number of communication paths becomes a problem. 10 people would have 45 communication paths!  Prioritize strong communications. Consider communication structures between projects. Where is your hub?
  • Cross departmental resources management 
  • Change management 
  • Career development
The last three, which she did not discuss, can come up later in an organization’s development.

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