The Top 5 Frustrations of Project Managers and Tips on How to Avoid Them: Part 3 of 5

Emily Down | October 31, 2011

3. FRUSTRATION: Change Tax.

Manually sending updates to everyone when something changes kills third of your day.

Anytime you’re doing something manually, ask yourself, “Can we automate this?” With today’s tools, often the answer is “yes.” In the case of executing complex projects, change is just something that’s going to happen. And, often for good reasons. As you get deeper into the design and development of a project, you know more than you did at the beginning. Thus, you and your team will think of better ways to build the desired product as you iterate upon the requirements along the way. If you try to manage versions by tracking changes in Word documents, then you’re going to experience a huge tax on your time. It’s nearly impossible to write the perfect requirements document the first time. So stop believing that’s a goal.

TIP: Be agile.

Embrace changes intelligently by connecting the dots, quickly assessing the impact and communicating the changes to the right people involved automatically.

We can’t talk about requirements without talking about change. And we can’t talk about change without talking about being “agile.”

The #1 reason to adopt agile within your organization is to create a culture that is nimble so your team can respond quickly and effectively to changing requirements. Thus, iterating as you go.

Don’t get hung up on the labels or the debate of whether Scrum vs. Kanban is superior. There is no definitive, one-size-fits-all process. Agile first and foremost is a cultural mindset, not a prescriptive development process.

You want your entire organization to feel empowered to propose a change if they find a better solution. If you’re coming from a more traditional Waterfall approach, your challenge with adopting agile is to avoid going from one extreme to the next. There is a myth that agile is about not having a plan and just building – which isn’t the case for most organizations. Smart agile teams maintain requirements best practices borrowed from traditional methods such as traceability, impact analysis and change management, so they can understand the ripple effect that a change has on the rest of the project. It’s a balancing act between agility and formal control. Some call it a hybrid approach. Again, the labels don’t matter. The key is to find the mix of techniques that works best for your team so you can execute projects without friction. That’s what matters.

Read part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or download full whitepaper here.