Suggestions for Entering a PM Role Midway Through a Project Lifecycle

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Joined: Tue 29 Nov 2016 9:10 pm

Hi All,

I would like to take a moment and gather some of your advice regarding a situation that I have witnessed others have to deal with throughout my professional career and am now experiencing myself. As we all know, a career in project management is a very versatile form of a career choice. Meaning on one job you may be working in the construction industry and then the next you may be in IT. This is one of the many reasons that I have chosen to pursue a career as a project manager.

As a young business professional, I have always worked in the automotive industry, particularly on the engineering and manufacturing side of things. Last week, I managed to procure my first position as a project manager for a company that designs electrical connectors for specialty applications on vehicles. This is uncharted territory for me as I have no professional electrical engineering experience.

I am experiencing difficulty in getting caught up with the current state of the projects within the company and figuring out what the next steps should be. This is particularly due to trying to decipher the plethora of abbreviations and acronyms that the company uses, familiarize myself with how their company operates from a process standpoint, and learn about all of the current issues that are being acknowledged.

When we search for resources about the field of project management, we are always referred to the PMBOK for best practices and various other articles and authors. However, the one thing that they have in common is that they all provide information based on new projects that haven't had any work started on them. I have yet to find any resources, be it people or literature, that is able to provide good methodology for entering into an unfamiliar field and taking over projects mid-way throughout their lifecycle.

The old saying is that "you can't know where you're going until you know where you have been." I feel that this saying describes perfectly the situation that I am in. I am being brought into a company, mid-project (and I actually have multiple projects that need to be managed), and am struggling to get familiarized with each project's history, current state of deliverables, and the next steps required to close out deliverables. I feel like I am spending more time trying to learn about what is currently happening than I am actually spending working on the project itself. To me, this is neither efficient nor desirable. I do utilize spreadsheets such as Open Issues Lists (OILs) as well as various PM software, including company specific software. I currently spend the majority of the day speaking to other team members trying to get a grasp on the situations but feel like I just keep bouncing back and forth without gaining any understanding.

I want to ask the forum for any advice or methodology that they can give from their professional careers that I may be able to utilize in order to smooth the transition into this new position and be able to function efficiently on a daily basis. Whether it be personal experience, reference material, or ideas, all would be greatly appreciated.

Additionally, if at all possible to estimate, what would be considered a "reasonable amount of time" that I should give myself in order to get familiarized and settle into my new role as a project manager? A few weeks? A couple of months? 6 months?

This is definitely a dream job for me and I know that I am more than capable of handling any of the tasks or responsibilities thrown at me. I just seem to be having an issue getting up to speed.

Thanks and Best Regards,
Derrick Busch
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Joined: Sat 19 Dec 2009 4:39 pm
Location: London

Hi Derrick,

It's always a little daunting taking on a project midway through, but it's a good way to showcase your project management skills. I've gone as far as stopping work briefly while reviewing the project objective, plan, budget, team structure with the stakeholders and team members.

You might find some of the questions in this article useful when getting up to speed: ... ld-ask.php

I'd certainly be looking to gain control of the project in a couple of weeks maximum. There is always a honeymoon period when you get cut a bit of slack, but it's soon over, and the pressure is on.

Good luck!
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