Pavel Baranok and Project Management Best Practices
How did you decide to pursue a Project Management career?
It was a natural transition as my career progressed. I started my career in IT as a front-end developer and started to apply myself to additional areas as the project(s) required. I gradually became involved in final testing, bug fixing, and client communication and was interested in taking ownership for the end to end delivery of the projects.
Which methodologies do you apply to your projects?
Methodologies are dependent on the specific project and project needs as well as the client and team maturity. I’m a big fan of Agile methodologies and we usually utilize classic Scrum or Kanban methodologies. For bigger customers and projects, Scrum of Scrums and SAFe are more suitable.
Walk us through your first steps when you start a new project.
- First of all, you need to understand your client and their business goals. Do your research, understand the client’s background, who is who on the team, and who are the decision makers. Research their website, social accounts, and news about them to understand who they are and what they do, and how your team can help.
- Then assemble the best team. At Transcenda, we have a top notch design and development team. But as the projects grow, you also need to hire the best resources on the market.
- Set communication flows between various stakeholders. Figure out who are the key people and communicate with them regularly.
- Collect and analyze requirements. Always put your customer first. This particular Transcenda value is one of my favorites.
- Break down the scope into smaller tasks. Set up milestones and deadlines and analyze how realistic they are. It’s important to understand the mission critical business priorities such as if the product needs to be released on a particular date and if there is a strict deadline which cannot be shifted. If there is a conflict between what is achievable and the business goals, then it comes down to working with your business stakeholders to prioritize the most critical features and to motivating your team to go above and beyond.
- Set up a delivery process. It’s important to choose a methodology which resonates with the client’s needs and your team. Be flexible and open-minded, and try to make all processes smooth.
- Start the delivery. And here’s where the journey begins 🙂
What project are you working on currently?
I’m leading a program within multiple sub projects. The products we are creating are mobile applications for smart home and smart device management including lighting, energy, audio/video, security, and more.
What was the largest project you have ever worked on (in terms of team members) and the smallest?
The largest is the one I’m leading now. In fact, it is a group of projects with about 50 engineers in total. The smallest one was a 3 person project where I was working together with a requirements manager and a UX designer. We were working on collecting the requirements and design sprints facilitation.
How do you manage several projects concurrently?
When you institute well-defined processes, then managing multiple projects at the same time is no longer a challenge. It all is just about setting up priorities. A project manager’s load varies at different stages of the project cycle. If you can balance these periods between projects, it all works out.
Usually, the start and the end of the project are the most challenging ones. At the beginning, you need to set up all processes and communication within the project and with the client. Then, usually the period of a routine working process starts. At the end of the project (or its phase) the intensity increases again as you need to finalize all aspects of the project and meet the deadlines.
Name five tips for effective work as a Project Manager.
- Manage every project as a series of processes but not as a series of events. Each process should be the logical continuation of the previous one.
- Use a personal task list so you don’t forget something important. It doesn’t matter which tool you’d choose – whether it’s a Trello board, a Google task list, or notes in your notepad, use them and regularly check them.
- Improve your empathy and emotional intellect. Be likeable and friendly. Your communication skills must be your top priority. I’ve recently read a book ‘Conversaciones cruciales’ on how to communicate best when it matters most, and I strongly recommend it.
- Maintain communication with key stakeholders. Set up weekly/bi-weekly calls with the team leads and managers, use Slack, Zoom, ad hoc and scheduled meetings.
- Love your team, trust them, support them, and empower them. Without this, there’s no way you will be successful.
How do you improve your technical skills?
Surely I read books and technical articles, but in most cases I gain technical knowledge with every new project. I tend to learn better when I have a specific task. Communication with the project team makes the mentioned learning process faster and better.
Name the top 5 PM skills to have in 2021?
- Empathy and positivity
- Planning and setting goals
- Delegation and trust
- Risk management
How do you ensure projects are delivered on time and on budget?
I will not dive deep into details, but the basic rules for successful project/product delivery are:
- Define the project goals and scope
- Break the scope down into phases, milestones, stories, deliverables
- Hire and retain a great team
- Have fair and open communication with the customer and within the team
- Test early and often
What do you like most about your job at Transcenda?
The spirit inside the company is a key motivation factor for me. In addition to this, I’m always surrounded by extremely skilled and talented people. And finally, my current projects are really on the cutting edge of technology and very interesting to me and my team.
Describe your typical work day.
- First part of the day – reserved for team meetings: standups, planning, grooming, one on one meetings, and so on.
- Middle of the day – working with documentation, task manager, requirements clarification.
- Second half of the day – communication with clients and business stakeholders.
What are your hobbies?
I like sport fishing in the summer and snowboarding in the winter. I also really enjoy travelling to unusual countries and landmarks. I’ve been to Nepal, India, Peru, and also to such places as Machu Picchu, Kilimanjaro, and the Himalayas, to name a few.
Which Transcenda value resonates the most with you? Why?
I would choose “Ownership Attitude”. We are not just moving tasks between Jira columns or making pull requests. We deliver working products and want these products to be useful for the end users.