Taras Osadchyi and Project Management Best Practices
How did you decide to pursue a Project Management career?
Initially, I started my career as a software developer. I was ambitious to earn freedom in the decision-making process, and always took the opportunity to take on more responsibilities than needed. Being result-oriented to get better outcomes – this was my approach from the very beginning.
You possess a strong technical background, but can someone without it become a Project Manager?
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI)’s guidelines, yes. On the other hand, there’s such a thing as a Project Manager’s talents triangle. It includes technical background, leadership, and strategic and business management skills. In order to be a successful project manager, you need to evolve in all three directions.
When I decided to become a PM, I wanted to understand every aspect of the project I worked on. For example, one time I had a design-driven project, so I took a design course to better understand its principles and approaches. When we started using a new programming language, I dove deeper into it. At another point in time I needed a better understanding of DevOps. I then took a DevOps course, created an AWS account, and tested all features in there.
Which methodologies do you use in your projects?
There are dozens of methodologies out there, and every time you need to understand which one is a better option for your current project. However, we use Scrum almost everywhere at Transcenda. It helps create a real forecast of the delivery (forming expectations of clients and users) and keep the flexibility of a product’s evolution.
What are the first steps when you start a new project?
- Firstly, you need to understand what all stakeholders want and find a decision maker.
- Then you have to validate the client’s vision, not as a PM but more as a consultant. Every project is about achieving some goal. Whether the project that is imagined by the client can meet the client’s goals – that is your responsibility to understand.
- Technical validation. For me, it’s a so-called ‘translation’ of a business idea into Terms of Reference (TOR) and technical specification.
- After completing the TOR, one needs to allocate resources.
- Then TOR is converted into a project plan which is a sequence of who is responsible for what.
- The last stage is getting approval of the plan from the stakeholders, including approval of budgets, deadlines, and the team.
- And finally we’re ready for kick-off!
How to deliver projects on time and on budget?
According to the project management’s triangle, there are three variables in each project: scope, cost, and time. Let’s say, we fix scope and cost. This means that all uncertainties will be covered by time. If time is the most important variable (let’s say, you have a strict deadline you can’t miss), then you need to correct either costs or scope. Usually one corner of the triangle is fixed and then everything else adjusts to it.
The corner that you choose usually depends on the industry. Once I was working on a healthcare project where the whole year was spent on very detailed and precise planning of each step of the project. This means that the scope was fixed, and time and cost were variables. Afterwards, everything was done according to a strict plan because in healthcare projects there’s no way you can make a mistake.
How do you deal with tasks that randomly pop up?
First of all, you need to prioritize these tasks. In line with the Eisenhower Matrix, I divide all tasks into: urgent / not urgent and important / not important. Let’s say, if suddenly production is down for an important and urgent task, then this is what I will start fixing immediately. Another example of an urgent and important task would be some kind of a bottleneck during the delivery process. My main goal is to ensure that delivery works uninterrupted and at its highest capacities.
If tasks are not urgent, I set myself reminders and get back to them when all urgent tasks are done.
Name five tips for effective work as a Project Manager.
- First and foremost is to understand the principles of time management – and you should start with your own time management. Use it as a tool to achieve your personal goals. Set up a goal, create a plan, then break it down into iterations.
- Eating your own dog food or trying the product you’re working on yourself. There are project managers out there who don’t take a lot of interest in the projects they’re actually working on. Basically, they are just administrators who move the tasks around on a dashboard and do the reporting.
- Set up monthly 1x1s with each team member. Talk to them in person for at least 15 minutes. Use a personal approach – you need to know who they are, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are. At the end of the day, each project is done by a team of people, and you need to know who they are.
- Implement metrics and make your decisions based on numbers not emotions. All product-related decisions should be based on analytics.
- Create your own pet project to test new technologies and perfect your skills. I never try to rewrite the code of developers from my team, but I also need to know the best way to achieve our goals.
How do you improve your technical skills?
So far, the most resultative method for me was the one mentioned above, which is a pet project. Come up with a business idea that is interesting for you, use new technologies, and try to create a product.
I also regularly attend various courses that might be useful in my role. For example, for the last 12 months I was studying machine learning.
What do you like most about your job at Transcenda?
We spend at least one third of our lives at work, thus people with great soft skills are important criteria. Transcenda hires only mature employees, both mentally and technically. I like teams with ambitious goals, inspiring ideas, and cultural fit. As a result, thanks to the great people behind you, the working environment is productive and fun.
Which Transcenda value resonates with you most?
‘People first’ mindset is very relevant to me. The IT industry is built on people, and the better the team you have, the better results you get.
What are your hobbies and how did they shape you?
I like to call myself a senior fisherman with 20+ years of experience :). I find my Zen in this activity, fishing is like meditation to me. I also like soccer and am a huge fan of Dynamo Kyiv.