A day in the life of a project management consultant
June 21, 2023 |
7 min read
Follow Marisa Silva, project portfolio management (PPM) consultant, as she goes about her day.
Working as a project portfolio management (PPM) senior consultant for an international project management consultancy company with a broad range of competencies and within multiple industries, no days are alike in my work life. One day I could be delivering a training course on how to become a PMO leader, the next day conducting a requirement gathering workshop for the configuration of a PPM solution, and, by end of the week, completing stakeholder interviews for a project health check.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and after having lived in the UK for several years, I’ve moved back to my native Portugal. Thus, working remotely and travelling occasionally (mostly to the UK, where a large portion of our customers are based) brings another layer of flexibility and excitement to my work lifestyle. There are no boring days, that is for sure!
At the time of writing, I’m managing six client-facing projects. Five of them refer to the implementation of PPM solutions, covering two different technologies, while the other is advisory/assurance work for a customer delivering a project critical to their strategic objectives. They are all at different stages; some are in execution, others are in design or in discovery, and involve working with colleagues spread over the UK, India, and Dubai.
To ensure that I organize my time effectively and I’m completing the tasks and responsibilities required of me, I use a variety of tools, such as my dear notebook and post-it notes, an Outlook calendar, to-do lists, and project folders on Teams, a PPM solution where all the assignments are maintained and reported.
It is difficult to describe a typical day (flexibility and agility to adapt and reprioritize is key to me). The following would be a close representation of my common activities during a week. Buckle up!
Log in to my laptop and check my calendar to see what is planned for the day. Get a nice cup of coffee in preparation for another busy day.
Check email and see an urgent request from a team member that I need to investigate immediately, or it would cause a road block for the remaining work.
Phew, problem solved. After some investigation, we have identified that we can’t meet a functional requirement, but we have identified an alternative, with pros and cons, that I’ll present to the client in our meeting later today.
Back to the day as planned.
Brief catch-up call (up to 15 minutes) with the project teams to confirm everyone is clear on assignments for the week, we are on track, and I have visibility over any concerns or issues.
Call from the resource manager. Apparently, there’s a mini-crisis on a project that I’m not managing, but that requires immediate support from one of my team members. “Just for three days. Sorry, Marisa, but this project really needs Mark, it’s a priority!”, she says.
Time to complete an impact assessment on one of the projects now that my colleague will be unavailable. There’s no one else to replace him on such short notice, thus I’ll need to reschedule the work with as little impact as possible and seek approval from the client to move the start of the user acceptance testing (UAT).
Respond to emails received during the morning, including sending a draft of the agenda of the project health check design’s workshops scheduled for next week.
It is 12.30 already?! I need to quickly speak to one of the lead engineers in India before he finishes his working day to give context to the actions assigned to him from the PPM solution discovery workshops held last week.
Time for lunch and fresh air.
Document the requirements captured during the PPM solution discovery workshops from last week. This needs to be done on a standard format that is recognizable by the engineers and using the company’s template.
Someone is at the door for a delivery. Be right back!
Update the cost tracker for one of my projects before the status update meeting with the client at 4 p.m.
The weekly call with client A is due now. I update the client on the project’s status and progress, including the need to reschedule the UAT activities. I managed to secure resources for the completion of training sooner than planned, thus, although there will now be a delay on testing, the go-live date remains unchanged. On this basis, the client accepts the new date proposed for the start of UAT and we agree how we are going to communicate it to the test users. I present the updated cost tracker; the records match what the client has on their side, and we are now ready to invoice the items pertaining to Discovery & Design, as per the agreed payment milestones.
I inform the project team that the change in the UAT timescales has been approved and no concerns/actions have been identified from the meeting with the client.
I have just received an email from another client asking for a new business process to be reflected in the requirements following a structural change in the organization. As the build is underway, this represents a change request and I’ll need to discuss the implications with the project team, including feasibility and estimates of effort to implement.
This will definitely need more than 30 minutes, thus will need to be discussed tomorrow first thing in the morning; let me just add a meeting to the team’s diary first and respond to other emails that have been received in the meantime. Where possible, I like to finish the day with no unread emails in my inbox; mission accomplished for today.
Time to log off. More fun to come tomorrow!