True project management requires a high level of resolve, insatiable desire to follow process and workflow, and, to an extent – fanatical belief in the ability of objective information to drive success.
That’s all well and good, but what about people who – well – don’t quite see the point?
Enter Wil Shroter, co-founder and CEO of Fundable.com and founder of 8 other web companies. Shroter isn’t a fan of traditional project management practices, and he couldn’t bear the thought of using them in his own businesses. Shroter says they take too long to sue, they aren’t necessarily intuitive to use, and many lack a reward system (or as he put it, doesn’t provide a cookie for good work). He also recognized, however, that without project management projects generally fail miserably.
So Shroter and his team created PML : the Project Management List. You won’t find any sophisticated dashboards or in-depth reporting capabilities with the PML, and it’s not right for every team. The PML is designed for “high performing teams that just need to know who’s doing what.” It is a cut-down-to-basics solution that utilizes a very simple method of determine what status a project is given, and when that project is going to be worked on.
PML utilizes 4 definitions for each project. Referred to as “buckets”, Shroter explains that each project goes into a product/revenue, marketing, content, or infrastructure bucket. This helps define how important the project is, and which ones should be focused on first:
The order matters because it’s a daily reminder of what drives the ship. We know infrastructure items like optimizing database queries and printing business cards have value. They just don’t matter to us as much as paying bills.
After being defined in the “bucket” system, the projects move to the next axis, this being the timeframe of the project. There is an Immediate category, a Near Term and a Long Term category. This level of project timeframe worked for Shroter and his team because it quickly defined what work needed to be completed. They didn’t need to know that 4 months from today they’d be 15 days into project X – they need to know what they should be completing this week and nothing more. Again: this doesn’t work for every project team. Some people need to have months of work planned and regulated for them. But Shroter and his team didn’t, and the PML system’s use of timeframe accelerated their ability to stay on task and get work done.
The PML system also has a Completed category, and this helps provide a reward for the team. The sense of accomplishment is important, as is keeping in mind what work your team completed to get them to the point they are at.
After these various actions are put into place, they all culminate with a meeting at the beginning of the week. This meeting (referred to as Monday Management) defines what’s important for the rest of the week and discusses what should have gotten done the week before. This creates a clear direction for the team while also creating accountability for the performance of each team member. As Shroter puts it, the whole system is very simple, but remarkably effective.