Debug Projects

Don’t hate the player, hate the game

May 2023

Technical project managers (TPMs) get a bad rap. Below is a collection of engineers favorite "pings" they receive from TPMs on a daily basis.

  • How far along are you?
  • What % done is it?
  • Can you update the spreadsheet?
  • Do you have a new date?
  • When can you get this finished?
  • Can you push the date up?
  • Can we jump on a call?
  • "You got a quick minute?"
  • Please edit the three spreadsheets that are somewhere in one of 100 teams chats I told everyone about 6 weeks ago when you were on holiday even though we have a ticket system and confluence.

As evidenced above, PMs take a lot of flack from engineers. But continuously tracking, communicating, and updating the status of a project across a large and fast-moving team is hard…and it's not getting any easier. The rapidly evolving nature of work has resulted in engineering teams that are more distributed, asynchronous, autonomous, and resource constrained. Individually these are each meaningful shifts in how work gets done. Collectively their impact is seismic, yet the tools used to help teams stay coordinated and aligned have barely changed. So it's no wonder PMs have struggled to keep up. They've been showing up to the project management knife fight with a squirt gun.

With traditional project management tools, the value you can get out of them depends entirely on what information you manually feed into them. But tracking down all the activity and progress indicators requires a lot of heavy lifting and constant nagging (which no PM enjoys). So, to keep the inputs fresh, they default to the dreaded triple crown of status management; check-in meetings, slack pings, and spreadsheets. The collective goal of these rituals is to get the information you need to communicate status on demand. But unfortunately, the information gathered quickly becomes stale, triggering another cycle. Wash, rinse, repeat.

There needs to be a better way. Project management software should empower PMs and the engineering teams they support, not the other way around. Imagine a modernized approach designed for the realities of today's engineering organizations. Imagine a platform that takes care of the grunt work so a PM can free up to focus on the good stuff, like making decisions, removing blockers, mitigating risks, and shipping killer products. Imagine a super-assistant that automatically collects and curates all project activity data, artifacts, and critical events (demos, decisions, etc.) into a central dashboard for you. Imagine a single source of truth for communicating what's going on with any project or initiative. The never-ending cycle of disruptions, check-in meetings, and status pings from your PM become a thing of the past. That's modern project management.

So the next time someone starts using PMs as a punching bag, no matter how funny the .gif is, remember, don't hate the player; hate the game. It has been a game they've been set up to lose all along…until now.

Interested in modernizing your project management capabilities? Signup for the KATA Early Access Program.

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