5 Questions about Project Management
with Falk Schmidt
Before we leave the office for the weekend, we stop for a quick coffee talk with our project management colleagues to chat about their best practices. Well, not literally, but that's how we designed our interview series "5 questions about project management". To be fast, intense and refreshing like a good cup of coffee.
Today we talk to Falk Schmidt, project management consultant and innovation coach. For more than 20 years he has accompanied companies in the implementation of digitisation projects, since 2011 with his own company. He passes on his experience as a coach to young project managers.
1. What is your preferred project management method?
In my opinion, there is no "method". Project management is a trade. And for this you need - to stay in the linguistic picture - on the one hand a well-filled tool case and on the other hand the knowledge and experience to cope with the respective situation/project with the individually fitting tool set. All in all, I have been driving well with a hybrid approach for a good 10 years: as agile as possible, taking into account the (classic) methods prevailing with many customers. My preferred boxes in the toolbox are Scrum and PRINCE2.
2. Do you use software for larger projects and if so, which?
For large customers, the Microsoft palette is generally strongly favored. First and foremost Excel, of course, and the inevitable project, as well as SharePoint (whose potential is all too often not used extensively enough) and OneNote. Fortunately, it is becoming increasingly possible to use tools such as Jira. As a Mac user you are unfortunately still an exotic in German companies, so that Mac-based tools that I appreciate are only used in projects that we carry out ourselves for (medium-sized) customers. Merlin and Goalscape or XMind are at the start for planning, plus Twist (partly also Slack) for team communication and a secure NextCloud environment.
3. What is your favorite ritual in the project?
Anything to help make the team better:
- Daily stand-ups with good moderation
- Equally important: informal (after-work) meetings on a voluntary basis. It is always astonishing what "boost" such a thing gives team cohesion. Also valuable: to spend a lunch break with everyone from the project environment.
- And: "Management by walking around".
4. What do you think is one of the most underestimated factors for project success?
People, Leadership and Communication. We often ignore the fact that people have individual strengths and weaknesses that give a team a specific dynamic. Leadership is then a service to the team ("servant leadership") - because it is not about giving people what they should do and how, but rather defining the common goal and creating the framework conditions for achieving it.
5. What's your biggest time killer?
- Meeting madness without structure and discipline
- Actionism instead of sensible planning and the resulting efforts to eliminate errors
- Bureaucracy for its own sake (the classic: After the successful completion of a project, the project plan in MS Project has to be set up quickly, because this is required by the revision.