Project Management

Do You Want to Build a Project?

Today our Intro to DH class was lucky enough to be visited by Sarah Storti and Brandon Walsh from the UVA Scholars Lab. Sarah and Brandon spent the day teaching us about project management, a topic that I had never given much consideration. Of the many successful and unsuccessful groups I’ve been apart of, group dynamics were natural and not formally discussed. Team leaders were not officially declared, goals were not communicated, and individual roles were not delegated. Sarah and Brandon made clear the importance of project management, which made me wonder if my past groups’ success resulted from luck. If I learned one thing today, it’s that effective project management is key to working successfully as a group, which in turn creates a successful project.

Team KCMP (better known as the brains behind the Beyond Bow Ties DH project), is composed of four members who each have different backgrounds and interests. With these interests in mind, we discussed the different roles that each member should take within the group. Christian has naturally taken the lead in planning group meetings and facilitating conversation about our project, so we delegated him as our project manager. Sarah and Brandon said that two important jobs of the project manager are: 1) respectfully saying “no” to non-feasible ideas and 2) resolving any conflicts that may arise between/among group members. Our group unanimously agreed that Christian would be best as our project manager. Patrick is a computer science major interested in working with the technical aspects of our website. We delegated Patrick as the head of project development because his skills are best suited for the job. Brandon said that group members can place their focus on an area that they may not be particularly skilled in. When Kelsey and I heard this, we vocalized our desire to learn more about web design. We may be the least skilled in that department, so we thought Patrick or Christian may be better suited for the job. But to give us the opportunity to learn, our group decided to name Kelsey and me “Co-Designers” of the project, which we’re both really excited about.

After finalizing each individual’s role within the group, we composed a rough draft of our “charter.” Using examples of charters laid out by groups from the Scholars Lab, we outlined our group’s goals for the project, core values, and ¬†components that we feel are important to team management and project administration. Composing a charter was extremely helpful because it forced us to vocalize issues that may have gone unnoticed. One of our group’s core values is flexibility, and with flexibility comes understanding. All group members are involved in extracurricular activities that require significant time commitments, so we must all be understanding of each other’s schedules when meeting as a group. We will continue to develop the our charter over the next few days, and continue to reference it as we prepare our final project. I’m beyond grateful for the time we spent with Sarah and Brandon, and can’t wait for other Scholars Lab folks to visit throughout the week!