A Day In The Life of a Project Manager (Okay, 2 days)

Below isn’t riviting insight, but I hope it will be valuable for those considering PM as a career path.  As you will see, it isn’t filled with executive updates, strategy meetings, mentoring, negotiations, etc.  While that is a large part of what I do, below represents some of the basic blocking and tackling that many Project Managers work through on any given day. 



4:00am – Headed to Houston, TX so I am up unusually early today.  I start the day in pray, as my relationship with God provides me the foundations for ethics, leadership, and peace/poise.  All pillars for an authentic and effective project manager. Kiss the family and off to the airport.

11:30am – Landed in Texas!  My new solution consultant made the trip with me, as we are both relatively new.  This is a knowledge transfer and relationship building trip.  The firm in Houston was acquired by my current employer about a year ago, so this is my 2nd trip in a month and probably not the last in coming weeks.

12:00-1:00pm – I have 2 teams currently, with a 3rd being stood up while I am here in Houston. ..A solution architect started today back in North Carolina.  Each team is made up of 1 Solution Architect, 2 Developers, and a QA Analyst in support of some 3-6 client implementations.  So after being offline, traveling, for the first half of the day, my email is blowing up….review the calendar, find ‘hot items’ in the inbox, make priority calls, and send out deliverables reminders. The rest of the email has to wait.

1:00-3:00pm – The teams in Houston (very smart folks!) and the newbies (us) are getting together to finish developing our implementation methodology….essentially an Agile framework.  Unfortunately, prior to us joining everything was done on a best effort, custom approach.  If you know about client delivery, time is money and every billable hour counts!  We need to identify what the client ‘homework’ (checklist, as-is process, codes, etc) is to be completed, prior to the team being engaged and starting the clock.  Another large portion of this discussion is a identifying a reproducible, scalable sprint plans for the various implementations or modules that a client could purchase.  It is a SaaS-based solution, so we should be able to get to a minimally customizable scenario. 

3:00-3:45pm – a client sent me a text and had some questions…just about 30 minutes later and they are happy, all issues diverted.

3:45-4:15pm – Several emails responded to and some joking, laughing with Houston team members in the break room…I did say this was team building right?

4:15-5:00pm – The team gets back in the room and reviews the various sprint plans and tries their best to apply hours/% effort against each of the activities.  Currently, the org isn’t really sure how many client implementations can be managed by each team.  Obviously this leads to a ton of issues…are we charging the right number of hours to the client? Are we setting appropriate expectations to clients on when their project will start or be delivered? What are we putting our team members through…can you say burn-out?  Several other issues in not truly knowing.

5:00-5:30pm – Client status call.

5:30-6:00pm – Finish some emails, make a few calls and review tomorrow’s calendar.

6:00-7:00pm – Check into hotel and get ready for dinner…with the team.  Did I mention team building?



7:00 am – Breakfast downstairs in the hotel with some of the team from out of town…Florida, North Carolina, Minnesota.  Again with this team building!  When teams can get together, you try to maximize the time together.  We spoke nothing of work, which is crucial for success.

8:00am – Arrive at the office and address a few emails.

8:30-8:45am – Jump on a quick conference call to conduct a daily stand-up with the North Carolina team (9:30 their time).  Around the horn everyone….what did you do yesterday? What are you tackling today?  What can I help with?

10:00-10:30am – Developer pings me on corp instant messenger says there is an issue with the client  ERP integration.  We jump on a call…too much for an email, text, chat.  I listen to the challenges, review the clients contract for a way out ….LOL!  Darn it…the terms were too ambiguous, we are doing the heavy lifting.  Lesson learned for future contracts passed on.

11:30am -12:00pm – Interview candidate for a PM role

1:00-1:30pm – Jump on a call to discuss some topics with one of our clients.  We need to get his input on the direction of the solution, before we put too much development into it and before we present it to his larger team in 3 days.  Saves time, effort, and ensures a smooth present later in the week.  Also, shared some bad news that a feature they wanted will not happen.  It was promised by the earlier PM, but is simply impossible…difficult conversations happen all the time in PM.

2:00-3:00pm – A solution consultant from one of my other teams jump on a call with another client to conduct a demo/walk-through of a module they just purchased.  Does the workflow, options, etc meet their needs?  SaaS-based, so we want to limit the customization and have to drive their expectations vs. blue-sky “what do you want?” sort of questions.  Again, difficult conversations.  Went great and we are changing almost nothing…a few hours of configuration changes and we will be live!

3:30-5:00pm – Interview a few of the resources that have been with the firm for years.  What is the process you have followed for implementation X…Y…Z?  What are the gothcas?  I am trying to take another angle from yesterday’s process review.  These folks have been doing it for so long…I wish I knew half of what they forgot.  So after sitting on their initial brain-dump for a night, I am able to ask them again with another layer of detail about what they do?  Why they do it that way (for education of course…not challenging them, this would shut them down)?

5:00-5:30pm – Respond to a few emails, coordinate a client meeting, and review tomorrows calendar/schedule.

6:00pm – Dinner with the team.  Leaving tomorrow, so last real opportunity to sit and ask about family, funny stories, goals, etc.


Maybe I will revisit this in a few weeks, to give another view of what that point in time may look like.  Was this what you expected?  If you are a PM, how does this match up against your day?






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