PSA: Join DPM(ish), a newsletter for project managers

I’ve started a little project management newsletter called DPM(ish)—I’ve been wanting to do it for months, and finally went for it. We’re a few issues in and I’ve been sharing all of my mostly-project management thoughts, links, and news there. I wrote a bit more about what the newsletter content and why I’m writing it on my newsletter page, but I wanted to share more backstory here. I love a good newsletter, and have been pumped at the recent abundance of interesting, personal, and niche newsletters that are popping up out of simple platforms like TinyLetter and slightly-less-simple platforms like MailChimp. It’s fun to read through personal or educational thoughts from people regarding their work, daily lives, or interests that we all share…

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Home sweet Arizona

As most of my friends/fam know, I’ve spent the last three or so years moving all over at a somewhat frantic pace (god knows my mail can’t keep up with me!). It was all spurred on after a hasty and messy breakup, moving home to recoup and then moving into my first—and most beautiful—apartment. I lived in downtown historic Troy, NY across the street from my best friend, down the road from my favorite yoga studio, and in a building full of happy, amazing women who I became good friends with over time. After that I jetted off to live in San Antonio for a month with my sister, brother-in-law, and their corgi; decided I wanted to move there more…

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The Reality of Project Management Debt: What It Is and How To Avoid It

Have you ever taken over a project and realized you don’t know where to find the SOW or deliverables at all? What about all those times you’ve picked a project back up after launch to add a feature and had to do your best impression of Sherlock Holmes to dig out what went down on the project before it launched? If you’ve experienced these things, then you’ve experienced project management debt. The idea of content debt and technical debt are decently well-known in the world of web projects. Technical debt refers to the extra work that builds up as a result of code that’s implemented due to the ease (in time or practice), rather than implementing the overall best solution.…

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Here’s how to jump into an ongoing project and land on your feet

I recently wrote about overcoming project management obstacles when jumping into a new project as a freelancer—but what about actually getting going and starting to manage a project when everyone else is already in the middle of it? Jumping into the middle of an ongoing project is pretty par for the course as a project manager. All sorts of things can happen to cause us to transition onto a project midway through: a colleague on vacation, we’ve started a new position, the current project manager needs a backup, or a teammate is unexpectedly away for a long period of time. Regardless of the reason for a transition, it can be stressful to ramp up to something without knowing what to…

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This is how successful project managers onboard new projects

As a freelance project manager, I’ve jumped into projects at almost any phase: from projects a few days away from launching or kickoffs right after proposals are accepted, I’ve been a part of it all. Jumping into the thick of a project means getting up to speed on lots of things very quickly, and that transition is only improved by lots of transparency. If not, gathering all of that institutional knowledge becomes a burden to the project manager and an obstacle for the whole team. Most of the time, I realize I need access, knowledge, or context as it becomes relevant during my project ramp-up. It’s fairly typical of project owners and stakeholders to give basic context to a project…

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Communicating effectively with your remote team and resisting instant gratification

One of the biggest challenges I face as a remote project manager is that of instant gratification in communication. I’m an extroverted people-person and also happen to be a verbal linguistic learner. Solving a problem that requires others’ input works best for me when it’s done on a voice or video call, which isn’t always possible when working remotely.  Everyone works at their own pace and signs on at their own time in remote work. Whether the company sets general “in-office” hours to check in online, or if you (like me) work with contractors or people across the globe, not everyone is online and working at the same time. Communication is frequently asynchronous and I am not always afforded the luxury of a real-time…

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What’s the deal with freelance project management?

This is an updated version of an article I originally posted back in 2015 on this blog. Some minor adjustments and updates have been made, and I’m working on a few more in a similar vein – so keep checking back! Awhile back I was at a local meetup and had the chance to talk to a lot of people about what I do as a freelance, remote project manager. I’ve been contracting full-time for almost 3.5 years now, but I wasn’t surprised to get so many questions. Contract project management isn’t as common in the tech world as freelance design or development is, and it’s still somewhat of a novelty. So, I thought I’d talk about what I do,…

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The 8 Project Management Standards I Hold Myself To

After another year of freelancing, building client relationships, dealing with both great and difficult projects, working with incredibly strong partners, moving halfway across the country, and a whole host of project management/tech events, I’ve really refined my approach to work that I take on. I’ve found that all of the work I do and projects I take on have patterns that are shared across contracts. Certain things are important to me in how I work, how others interact with me, and it’s become a core foundation in how I work—the principles that shape what I do. I look at these core principles as my personal set of project management standards. This core approach is something that I think we should…

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Overcoming self-doubt and enabling technical leadership on projects

Over the past few months I’ve been a part of a small team enacting sweeping technical process change in an organization I’ve worked with long-term. I’ve worked closely with developers and the tech lead to establish and enforce technical and project standards. Through doing this, we’ve increased the quality of our development work, but it’s also shed light on how many gaps exist in my knowledge of the development process itself. Mitigating the mental realization that I know much less about the technical details of the development process than I thought I did is difficult at times—and can lead to self-doubt towards my role as a freelance project manager. Right now, I work closely with small agencies and understaffed in-house…

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How to Make the Web Better

This is the first in a monthly series prompted by Sparkbox, to start more meaningful conversations about our web industry. A new topic is announced the first Monday of every month, and on the last Friday of the month, everyone taking part in the monthly topic will post a link to their article with the hashtag #startYourShift. This month’s topic is “How to Make the Web Better”. I almost didn’t write this—I put it off while making myself busy with client projects and meetings, but I kept coming back to this thought of making the web better. I’ve been loudly grumping to the general public the last few years about keeping our clients and backend users in mind when building…

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