Posted by: kerrywills | July 28, 2017

PM Time and Focus

Project Managers have many things to do and that they are accountable for which means that their time and focus are important. I believe that this changes over the course of the project and have drafted an illustrative model to demonstrate the point.

For simplicity of the model, I identified four major activities…

  1. Relationship Building – I believe this is core to the success of the project and the PM to foster relationships throughout the lifecycle of the project
  2. Planning Current Work – This is the planning, estimating and structuring of the project
  3. Managing Work – The day-to-day management of plans, milestones, finances, risks, issues and resources
  4. Looking Ahead and Evolving – This is planning out future work and considering ways of improving project operations, processes and effectiveness

The Model

  • Early in a project a PM has two primary focus areas. The first is planning the work which should be viewed as an investment in time to ensure that plans are practical and the project is structured properly. It is also important to focus a lot of time on building relationships early because this will foster trust, collaboration and teamwork.
  • As the project progresses into planning and delivery, the focus becomes on managing the project work and less on planning.
  • You will see that I keep relationship building as a critical focus of time for the entire duration of the project because I believe that it is very important to maintain camaraderie and it enables better influencing, negotiating and teamwork.
  • As the project matures the PM should look to spend as much time as possible looking ahead and evolving the project. If the right structure is set up with competent resources and a mature PMO, then the lead PM should be able to spend this time. If the project is in trouble and requires most of the time to be spent on managing these issues, then future planning and improvements in effectiveness get sacrificed.

In my view, this model highlights two important aspects that many PMs do not spend enough time on – relationships and evolving the project. Obviously, these can only be done if they are not spending all of their time “managing” the work so there needs to be a deliberate plan to do this which involves proper planning, structure and the right resources so that the project delivery goes as smooth as possible.




  1. […] Kerry Wills shares a model for how the share of a project manager’s four primary activities evolves over the life cycle of a project. 2 minutes to read. […]

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