I believe professional success hinges on two things more than anything else; delivering on time and exceeding expectations. Life as a project manager adds another dimension – i.e. coordinating and controlling your teams to ensure they do the same.
The challenges and issues you face are never the same, especially in software development. Whether you’re addressing client pivots, development roadblocks, integration issues with third-party software, pushing legal to finalize agreements or managing your coders, every day is like a box of chocolates. Here’s a typical day in the life.
Wake up. Make an espresso, meditate, hit the gym, shower, and commute while I plan my day. I find this time to be essential to creating the space I need to be at my best mentally and physically. If they could put what meditation and exercise do for you into a pill, everybody would be on it.
I always get into the office before my teams; setting an example that I’m willing to work just as hard as they are boosts everyone’s productivity significantly.
Checking dozens of emails is an everyday challenge, which I am well-versed in managing. Voice messages are next and especially important because my contacts invariably call me during off hours when matters are urgent. I can usually rip through these before 7:30 am.
This is crucial day-planning time, I login to shared calendars for each of my teams to check progress, flag urgent client and development issues and delegate new tasks. I then confirm meeting times, attendance and agendas with each team.
7:45 am to 8:15 am
When I’m done scheduling meeting and setting agenda, I open my tasks manager, grab a cup of joe and revise.
8:30 am to 9:15 am
Global stand-up team meeting where I check high-level progress on all projects since yesterday, set up and confirm the day’s general objectives and what I can do to move them forward quickly.
Respond to other emails, delegate activities.
Tan, one of my back-end database developers wants to discuss few issues separately with me; he’s pressing for an immediate team meeting to prioritize an API map for a professional conferencing app we are building. While we are talking, I get a call from Keith, my boss who wants me to join him in his office for a meeting. As it happened in front of Tan, we agree to set the meeting after lunch.
Ken, the Managing Director of my department wants to discuss few things. His office is down the hall, I walk down there. Our conversation is straight and focused.
Review Meeting: I have to work with Susan our copyrighter to review content objectives for a law-enforcement tipster website before presenting them to our client.
Client call; he says one of his locations is having issues receiving data. It’s not a bug. I explain the technicalities, he understands and I delegate a test run to ensure proper functionality.
Respond to new emails and voicemail, confirm new calendar tasks delegate ensuing activities.
I bring my own lunch. Wait, I’m getting a call; Yuliia from accounting needs clarification on an invoice-billing to client. I clarify. She gets it. I head for lunch.
I have a teleconference with an IaaS provider we are using to provide cloud infrastructure for an enterprise client. We confirm necessary resources and pricing. I prepare an initial quote for the client.
I print out the back-end from the professional conferencing website we are matching to our conferencing app and draw out a rough API map matching them to our preliminary front-end story board screens from creative.
I meet with our entire conferencing app team, creative UX/UI, front-end, back-end and the Android/iOS coders. We confirm the preliminary API map structure for both platforms.
Frank, an Android developer shows up at my door. He’s having notification framework issues with Android push messaging not displaying correctly on Samsung devices. We go over the issues, I delegate objectives and set a follow-up meeting for the next day.
Bo emails me, he has identified some integration issues with third-party software for an enterprise client. We get into a call. I pull our contact from the third-party software into the call. We figure out what BO could be missing & the third-party promises to address it by the end of the week.
I interview a new candidate for junior creative position. This woman is on the ball. I refer her to Ken, my Managing Director for a second interview.
I drop-in to Ken’s office. We review our projects. I rush back to my desk, check emails, voicemails and respond. I need to re-work tomorrow’s schedule and push two items forward to the end of the week.
4:45 pm to 5:00 pm
I look at my calendar for tomorrow. I open my tasks to see what’s still pending, update my calendar and make the necessary calls, emails and delegations.
So there’s a day in the life for you. I’d love to hear how your day compares!
Alex Gillespie, Project Manager @ Cellflare