The Four Personas of Project-Management-Phobes, and How a Technophile Like Me Can Help Them

I just finished a really hectic product launch, so project management has been on my mind a lot. When you think of a well-executed marketing campaign, I’m sure that beautiful creative, clever messaging, or quirky tactics are the things that come to mind. But good project management is the secret ingredient that brings all that stuff together in the right place at the right time. Don’t underestimate its importance!!

On a typical day, I might have as many as 30 smaller projects—and a few big ones—going on for 2-4 different client companies. The success of my business depends on meeting a bunch of constantly moving milestones. How do I keep it all straight in my head? Project management software.

There are several good cloud-based solutions out there. My personal choice is Wrike, but I have also heard great things about Clarizen. Here’s what I like about Wrike:

  1. It’s super easy to start using. At its most basic, you can just keep a running list of tasks, responsible parties, and due dates. As you get more advanced, you can manage dependencies, organize tasks in folders so you can duplicate similar projects, manage workloads, and more.
  2. It takes no time at all to create Gantt charts that really impress my clients. For example, here is the process of being a team parent for an AYSO soccer team. This took me 10 minutes to build, and now I’m all set for next season!

Project Plan for Soccer Mom

  1. It sends friendly little emails to my clients, summarizing the tasks that they need to do (or should have already done).
  2. When tasks slip, your delivery dates get updated in 10 milliseconds.
  3. I got a lot of practice using Wrike thanks to one client, and one who is even more organized than I am!!

And here’s the tough part: Getting my clients to use Wrike effectively. A few of them see the value immediately and jump on board. The majority are much slower to warm. I would segment these project-management-phobes into the following personas:

  • The Hurry-Up Offense: “We’re all too busy to take the time reviewing a schedule. It will just get out of date anyway.”
  • The Compulsive Procrastinator: “What schedule? I have 1,000 unread emails to deal with first. Can you send me some more?”
  • The Committed Artist: “Nothing should stand in the way of creation.”
  • The Unwavering Denier: “There is no due date. Is there?”

Of course, there’s a comeback for everyone:

  • Project management allows the Hurry-Up Offense to operate like Peyton Manning, doing more in the same amount of time because they have the playbook down pat.
  • Procrastinators can delete all of the emails discussing the parameters of the task and have one place to go for all of that information, when they decide at the last minute to get going.
  • Artists can maximize their creative freedom because they know exactly when their backs will be against the wall (or up on the ceiling).
  • Deniers … OK, there’s no hope for them.

The reality: Whether or not my clients embrace project management, there’s a big reason I’m willing to pay $49 month to have it. It cuts down on the number of brain cycles I have to use remembering what I need to do when. It eliminates loads of time spent looking for emails and documents or flipping between individual project spreadsheets. (Clients: Don’t you wonder how I’m able to bother you about a specific issue or deliverable at a specific point in time?) And it clears my mind to do more valuable, revenue-generating work.

But how do I get more people to see the light? Project management vendors, I’d love to hear from you…

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