First of all, I must mention that every day is different for a project managers. The challenges, obstacles they face every day, are different. The kind of stakeholders they need to communicate to, are different. In short such day is unpredictable. If at all, I have to sum up a typical day in the life of project manager it is about co-ordination and control.
7:00 am I like to get into the office before my team gets in
7:05 am Checking piles of emails is a challenge and over the years, I am well versed with the science and arts of managing emails!! Voicemails is another thing to check if there is anything about to get into fire-burning mode. Respond to urgent & important emails. Mark emails to get more info from other team members.
7:30 am I login to project management software & check project progress, update risks, delegate issues. Prepare To-Do list and see which all meeting I need to attend, which one I can skip, if there is any customer issue that needs to be addressed ASAP
7:45 am I join the status call with off-shore team & see any issue has aroused and things are progressing as per plan
8:25 am I pull out my To-Do list, Grab a cup of coffee and make some notes.
8:30 am Stand-up meeting with the team; check progress made on yesterday's activities, what is today's plan & how I can help you
9:00 am James my lead engineer wants to discuss few issues separately with me & he is pressing for the immediate meeting. While we are talking, I get a call from Rob, my boss who wants me to join him in his office for a meeting with partner. As it happened in front of James, he agrees for a meeting post-lunch.
9:15 am Rob, Director of my department wants to discuss few things. His office is in another building, I walk down there. Meeting has already started conversation is straight and focused.
10:00 am. Respond to other emails, delegate activities.
10:30 am Review Meeting: I have to work with my Business Analyst to review project documents & improve those before handing it over to customer
11:30 am Customer calls up; he says XYZ is not working, ABC has not progressed beyond 60% and he would like to discuss it now. I explain him the technicalities of the issues, he understands it well; provide him furthermore detail ensure him that activities are not getting delayed.
12:00 am I bring my own lunch. Wait, I am getting a call, Rebecca from Finance is on the line; she is looking for some clarification in invoice-billing to customer. I clarify her doubts. She seems to set for creating invoice. I head for lunch.
1:00 pm I have a cross functional team (CFT) meeting with PMO, Insurance BU, Infrastructure-security and Corporate IT. I realize several new compliances are to be followed. Still I am good with it, since my project is being audited internally since beginning and we have been proactively working on new compliances. I will talk to quality lead about these; I make a note of it.
2:30 pm James call me up. We get into a conference room. We discuss about his issues. I sensed his problem and promise him to discuss positively it with Rob. He seems to be happy with that.
2:45 pm George pings me, he has identified some issues with new technology framework and he says he has email this issue to architecture team & can't progress now and will not be able to complete integration by this week. We get into a call. I say, enough of emails and chats. I pull Ramesh, lead architect in the call. He understands what could be missing & promises to address it by EOD.
3:30 pm I have to conduct an interview of a candidate for quality-lead position. This fellow appears process oriented and quite sharp. Gosh !! These guys have been doing good stuff well ahead of time. In my mind, I am trying to map those in our project & overall PMO practices. As usual, I ask him why he is making a switch. Looks like some relocation, family issue. He will be a good addition to our team.
4:15 pm I drop-in to Alex's desk. Alex is program manager. We talk about status of current projects, upcoming projects, we joke, laugh about something funny happened in yesterday's meeting.
4:30 pm I rush to my desk, I check email and respond. I need to re-work the project schedule. I set up a call with our Thomas, business analyst representing customer and his manager - Craig. Based on yesterday's review meeting, we agree to change delivery item for third sprint.
5:30 pm I look at my calendar for tomorrow. I open my To-Do list for today and see what is still pending and call up/write email accordingly. I realize, I could not read some useful and interesting project management and leadership articles. I remind myself to read it over weekend if not tomorrow!!
You will notice, there are so many things going on in the life of a project manager; it is a daunting task to ensure project is successfully delivered. It is really important to get organized despite of the chaos around us. If you do not have clarity of what needs to be done and talking/email to right people and getting things done; project management will be a difficult game for you.
Before concluding this post, I would say project manager deal with two essential problems/challenges