thatcamp chnm 2011: project management bootcamp

05 Jun

Here are my notes from Friday’s THATCamp BootCamp session on Project Management with Tom Scheinfeldt, Managing Director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University.  You can find more detailed notes in this crowdsourced GoogleDoc.

1. Pick Projects

  • Is it fundable?
  • What adjustments can be made in order for the project to be fundable?
  • Do you have the capacity to implement the project?
2. Build Partnerships
  • Institutional collaborations are important — collecting organizations have the data you want to use.
  • Partnerships build trust among audiences.
  • Manage expectations on both sides: who is doing what and how much time can you each spend?
3. Fund Projects
  • Read the grant proposal guidelines.
  • Follow the guidelines!
4. Set Budgets
  • 99% of your budget should be labor.
  • Ask for the maximum amount of money.
  • What can you promise?  Work backwards from the budget amount.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver.
5. Staff Projects
  • Assess what skills the people in your organization already have, and find projects that match those skills.
  • CHNM looks to hire people with a proven track record in learning things quickly (and are self-taught) and a proven track record in finishing projects.
  • Hire based on personality!  Staff must be able to work in a team.
  • As a manager, you should protect your staff from the administrative aspects of your job — let your employees do what they do best, and get out of their way!
  • Individual meetings are more important than meetings with the entire staff — people are more open in one-on-one meetings.
  • In those individual meetings, ask: What are you working on? What do you think you should work on next? Are there any obstacles preventing you from getting things done?
  • If you want staff to do things differently, give the feedback in a regularly scheduled meeting — not as a surprise at the end of the day.  Feedback feels constructive only in the right setting.
6. Develop Workplans
  • Workplans don’t often survive reality.
  • Come up with 3-4 key deliverables for funders, administrators, etc.
  • Outline those 4 deliverables and give funders 5 — underpromise and overdeliver!
  • Regarding project management software, start “lightweight” (with just GoogleDocs) and progressively get more heavyweight only if necessary.
7. Report to Funders/Administrators
  • The reporting schedule is already laid out in the grant guidelines and/or proposal — report on time (and well)!
  • Make progress notes along the way of things to report.
  • Report in public — blog your project!
8. Publicize Projects
  • If you don’t shout, no one’s going to hear you.
  • Don’t just publicize at the launch of a project.
  • Live blog the project, and give substantive content.
  • Engage an audience before the project even exists.
  • Speak and present as much as possible.
  • Use social media.
  • With partnerships, both sides should publicize.
  • Create a strong web presence that is well-designed and substantive.
  • Give out swag!  Stickers, etc.
9. Sustain Projects
  • Building a committed audience/users is the best way to sustain a project.
  • Funders are increasingly wanting a sustainability plan.
  • Build your project with a move in mind — someone else will probably inherit the project.  Document all your work!
  • Think in advance about a second project.  Funders won’t fund the same exact work again — think about how you will move the project in new directions.
  • Think about a revenue model in line with your values.
10. Lead
  • No one will give you a leadership role — you take it.
  • Meet your funders, and establish a working relationship.
  • Make sure you are always moving forward — if not, see what’s stopping you.
  • People forgive bad decisions, but they don’t forgive indecision.
  • Admit your mistakes.
  • Leaders are first doers.
  • The best collaborations are about shared doing.
  • You have to manage, but you should aspire to lead.
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Posted by on June 5, 2011 in conferences


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