WIZARD TAG

Project Management and Lightning Bolts

Project management is what you realize you are doing when you find yourself relying on specialists to realize your vision.  The contractors and suppliers don’t have the big picture, so you have to guide progress with the company’s vision.  How to do this is your project management methodology.  

Wizard Tag evolved from concept to realizing what we could and couldn’t do, then finding and hiring those people.  Focusing and guiding their efforts, while managing the budget and timeline made us realize that we were project managers, even though we did some of the work ourselves!

This blog examines what we do and what methodology we seem to be following.

Project Management and Lightning Bolts

What do Lightning Bolts have to do with this topic?

Well it would be cool if our jobs were all fireballs and lightning bolts!

The reality is that every manager has to make sure their team is getting the job done and there are no shortcuts.  The great part about project management for Wizard Tag is that every step we take brings us closer to the magic!

What are five popular project management methodologies?

For people who study business or have trained to become managers, there are probably dozens of management methods for every kind of business.  For Wizard Tag, we started off just worried about our individual tasks and assumed that the contractors would do what we asked and/or paid for!  Surprisingly that actually works to an extent, but there is still a need for management.

These are some common management methods; some I had heard of or learned about while managing projects in previous jobs:

  1. Waterfall – finish one phase to get to the next
  2. Agile – flexible, team-based, dynamic
  3. Six Sigma – focused on quality, statistics, eliminating waste 
  4. Lean – cutting waste, streamlining processes, optimizing 
  5. Critical Path – lists tasks, dependencies, milestones, prioritizes work

There are many more, but these are some that come up on many lists and that could be familiar to a lot of people.

What is the Wizard Tag project management style?

At first Wizard Tag just did the work!  Then we realized there was too much to do without some kind of plan and we listed all of our tasks and goals and analyzed them with the SMART system.  This is a way to make sure that each goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

That helped us to shape our goals and define our tasks.  We started off with a simple management style that we didn’t name, but it was essentially the Waterfall.  As we continued to work on the project our management style developed into the Critical Path methodology.  Many of the other styles were more suitable for larger companies, or ones that already had a product that they were trying to optimize or build more efficiently.

Critical Path is great because we have so many tasks to track and this allows us to focus on ones that have other tasks with relevant dependencies.  We may really want to get something done, but there are three things that have to happen first.  Identifying all of that allows us to place the emphasis and effort on the right tasks.

Now we are using a variation of the PERT charts to manage our Critical Path.  PERT charts are used as a Program Evaluation and Review Technique.  This helps us to manage resources and estimate time required for each task, phase, and the whole project.  Some people may be more familiar with Gantt charts, which are more straightforward project timeline tools.

Now that the Wands are created, are Waterfall and Agile methods still valid?

What we found out is that we are not really using just one method and we have to change over time.  At first, the Waterfall method was great because we knew we couldn’t do anything until we completed the concept phase and analysis to determine if the project was feasible.  At a certain point we realized that even though some things are in later phases, they could be worked on simultaneously, so that we aren’t wasting time waiting for a phase to be completed.

In a way, we have been using the Agile methodology the whole time as well.  We have teams of people who know exactly what they need to do.  They are contractors with well-defined parameters for their work.  As an overall methodology for Wizard Tag, it seems unsuited, since our company is only the two partners for now. 

However, the Agile method is well suited to software development, and that is the most important task we are working on at the moment.  This method will allow us to manage the software development and still accomplish other tasks that do not have dependencies on the software.  In addition, other teams can work in parallel, to complete tasks such as case design and hardware modifications that can be managed to avoid any changes to software.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

  1. Have you ever managed a project?
  2. What methodology did you use?
  3. Did you use Gant charts or PERT charts or the SMART system?

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