Project Management 101: Getting Things Done In Government

For the session on Project Management, the panel included:

Doug Brown

Practice Lead, Enterprise Architecture and Program Management at Vigilant Watch Integration

Brent Bushey

ITPM for the Alien Criminal Response Information Management System, Department of Homeland Security

Shaun Khalfan

Program Information Assurance Manager, Defense Logistics Agency

Throughout our session on project management, the panel provided excellent insight into the art of project management. The panelists discussed a wide range of issues regarding project management, including managing key stakeholders, prioritizing projects, and encouraging strategic risk-taking.

As the panelists discussed their philosophies on project management, they had a wide range of insights. According to Bushey, maintaining a more generalist approach has allowed him to explore a number of project areas. On the other hand, Khalfan spoke to his interest in delving into the technology of each project, and learning how to leverage that new technology to accomplish the team’s goals.

To accomplish team goals, another integral part of project management is managing key stakeholders. According to Khalfan, the foundation of relationship management is strong communication, as well as continuous involvement from stakeholders. Bushey likened relationship management to the role of a coach or teacher – you need to get people excited about the project.

The audience asked specifically about the task of prioritization. Often, project managers get overwhelmed with the number of tasks they’re asked to take on and have a difficult time determining where they should focus their efforts. Bushey shared his strategy of holding daily “stand up meetings”, where the team meets for fifteen minutes and shares three pieces of information: what they did yesterday, what they’re doing today, and what their roadblocks are. He said his job is to “clear the roadblocks”. The rest of the panel agreed that as a project manager, one of your key functions is to empower your team to do their work well.

Finally, a theme throughout the panel was encouraging creative thinking and strategic risk-taking. Khalfan was quick to point out that it comes from building an environment where ideas are welcome and valued. While often, organizational culture and policies present obstacles toward encouraging innovation, the environment a project manager builds can overcome those challenges. As he mentioned, your team has to know they have your back.

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Josh Nankivel

I wonder, did they mention self-organizing teams and things like visualization and kanban to help prioritize project work and communicate those priorities?