Thanks to a session with Emily Clasper at ALA Annual 2015, I’m a project management geek. Fired up by Clasper’s advice about planning visible timelines, setting goals, and making things happen, I signed up for a workshop on project management, where I learned techniques I have adopted in my everyday tasks.
I begin every project by writing up a project charter, documenting the scope of the project. I include a summary, goals, what the project will and will not include, stakeholders, and risks. Here is a sample charter I wrote for setting up a juvenile circuit collection.
In my training, I learned to make Gantt charts–horizontal bar charts showing relationships between steps in a process–by hand; I applied that knowledge back at work by learning how to make them in Excel. I like Gantt charts for their simple visual clarity–I can demonstrate in a snap how long I anticipate a project will take. But for keeping track of work deadlines and goals, I prefer a simple written timeline. Timelines serve the dual purpose of keeping me on track and allowing me to share the entire scope of a project with impacted staff. The question “how long before this happens?” has never been easier to answer.
Project management tools keep me accountable. It’s easy to stick to goals and deadlines when I break my tasks down week by week. If I ever do find myself running behind, I can inform those who are waiting on my work what’s happening and when I anticipate catching up. My coworkers are grateful when I share the tools I’ve developed, because they know exactly what I’m going to be doing and when.