I interview Jason Westland and how he started with the sites- his inspiration, insight and how one can know that your calling is to be a project manager.
Why did you decide to become a Project Manager?
After university, I secured a great job as a Project Manager for one of our leading banks. I've always enjoyed leading teams and I love the pressure of having an impossible deadline, so Project Management was perfect for me. I really like managing people, suppliers, equipment and customers to bring a project together. It's always a great challenge and very rewarding when you get it right.
Any experiences you might remember when you first started out and want to share here.
Sure. My first project was managing an IT deployment throughout the country. It was using leading edge technologies and was high risk. The first server we installed failed miserably, putting us off track. The suppliers didn’t know what they were doing and we were short on resource. The only way to delvier the project on time was to massively reduce the scope. So I presented to the Company Board (a group of really scary fellas at the time) and managed to get their approval. From there, I learned that you have to communicate with the Board constantly throughout the project, to get their support. With their support, you can achieve anything. We delivered the project on time and then kicked off another project to complete the remaining elements.
I've learned throughout the years, that the top 5 things you need to do to deliver a project successfully are 1) Spec it our properly at the outset; 2) Spend good quality time planning and don’t start execution until you know exactly what you're doing; 3) Monitor progress every week and keep the team informed as you go; 4) Communication among the project team is key and; 5) Always keep your Customer and Sponsor on side - get to know them and their business needs well. If you take those 5 tips, then you'll boost your chances of success.
How did the idea of starting these websites emerge?
I got tired of not having the right tools to manage projects. Firstly, I was always creating documents from scratch. So I built Method123. As I managed bigger projects I realized that everyone in my team needed to work in a more structured way, following a methodology as they went. So we built www.MPMM.com. Project tracking is critical to success and there were no tools available on the market that I was confident in, so we built www.ProjectManager.com. And finally, I needed MS Project for lots of users and it was way too expensive, therefore we built www.ProjectPlan.com. Basically every product came from a common problem that I know all project managers share.
Talk to me about the your site MPMM - how do you think it will help Project Managers?
Good question. Great Projet Managers use the same formula for success for every project they undertake. They manage projects in the same way every time, because they know that if they use the same process for delivering projects, then it will generate the same results. And that’s what MPM gives you. It offers you a proven, step-by-step process for delivering projects. It's aligned with Worldwide Standards PMI and Prince2 and hundreds of thousands of project managers have used it to help deliver projects on time.
If you follow the process that's included, then you'll improve your chances of success. It's that simple. Also, great Project Managers never start from scratch. They always use templates to get ahead. MPMM includes all of the templates you need to manage projects, and it comes with a suite of examples so you know exactly what you have to do to create project documents quickly and easily.
What’s your advice to newbies who are stepping into Project Management?
If you love to take on a challenge, you love managing people and you're goal orientated by nature, then Project Management is definitely for you. It will always keep you on your toes. It can be stressful at times, but the most important thing is every project will come down to your ability to coordinate and motivate a team of people, to achieve the desired results. It's people that really matter.
So learn everything you can about project management. Don’t get caught up in things like the technicalities of Critical Path Analysis or EVA, instead focus on the basics. Plan your projects well at the outset. Hire the most talented team you can find - I always try and hire smarter people than myself! - and then motivate them towards achieving the results. Monitor their progress carefully and tackle issues head on as soon as they arise. Keep your customer informed along the way and get their support and buy in. If you keep to these basics, then you'll be well on the road to success.
Stress at work has become such a major factor these days, so do you think by using your software's, the PMs will be able to do things more efficiently and save more time?
Yes definitely. The world is changing. Everything is going online and people are using the internet to connect and communicate more. By using online tools, people these days are able to share and collaborate to get things done. Everyone knows what's happening on the project because the dashboard and reports are right there in front of them, real time. There is no more waiting until the weekly or monthly reports have been produced, only to get an outdated view because something else came up in the meantime.
By using tools online, Project Managers and teams know what's happening as it happens. It's pretty exciting. These tools are evolving fast and adapting to the ways that people manage projects. The old days of using MS Project to plan the project and then nothing to track real progress are gone. Online tools these days allow you to track progress as you go, raise risks, issues and changes when they occur and collaborate to resolve them. People still use tools like Outlook and Skype to communicate, but in the next couple of years, these will all be integrated within online project management tools, so that you only need to go to one place to manage your day. It's an exciting world! To see what I mean, check out www.ProjectManager.com
Wow, that is exciting- a Project Manager turned entrepreneur! Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.