A Day in the Life of a Vistatec Project Manager
From overseeing timelines and budgets to coordinating teams and ensuring deliverables are met, project managers’ days are a whirlwind of meetings, decisions, and strategic planning. In this article, we delve into the daily life of Emily, a Vistatec project manager, exploring her role, typical days, and challenges.
First thing in the morning, I mentally run through my day and visualize anything significant I have planned for the day. Then I get up, make a coffee, feed my dog, and then get to work! Once I turn on the laptop and open up all my usual programs and apps, I organize my emails by subject and go through them, archiving anything that does not need my attention and setting flags to the items I need to look at or action.
I look at the list of projects my client has sent through and divide them amongst my team. The global client I work with often has very tight deadlines, so we must get the teams working on the tasks as soon as we receive them. When that is done, I often ping my manager to say hello and check if we need a quick catch-up. After that, I start responding to outstanding emails or completing ad hoc tasks I have flagged. Throughout the day, I monitor the incoming tasks, manage resources’ queries, keep the On Time Delivery records updated, and perform other vital tasks.
When I have an extensive delivery coming, I might check in with the resources involved to ensure they are on track to deliver on time, or I might also check if we have received any of the files and run a quick QA myself. When a big project is due for delivery, any little task that can be performed in advance can make a difference because it is best to do things ahead of time rather than rushing at the last minute.
Certain weeks of the month are busier than others for a PM; we have to prepare the invoicing for each client at the end of each month, which needs to happen while we keep the usual day-to-day tasks running. Some clients have very straightforward invoicing processes, and the admin involved can be completed quickly, whereas other clients will require more time. My clients have rather complex invoicing processes; I must be very disciplined in completing my month-end admin while keeping my projects going. Logging in an hour early or setting dedicated time aside and focusing for 60 minutes solidly on admin can make a big difference. It’s all about keeping an eye on the main tasks for the day and finding a rhythm that works for you and allows you to complete everything on time.
I will never forget one of the people I reported to a long time ago saying that once the clients are happy, that is the main thing. That is what project management is about. You have a project, you set out a plan (your critical path), you create your schedule with the milestones that need completing along the way, give yourself some leeway to account for one or two hiccups, you check in with your vendors to make sure the requirements are precise and that all is on track and, if necessary, you keep the client updated. You can only plan for some scenarios, but planning usually gets you to the finish line on time.
I like that I get to create my rhythm and routines to get my tasks done on time. I am fortunate to have a manager who allows me to develop small processes and make suggestions for larger, group-based ones. I also appreciate that we are encouraged to contribute and take leading roles in creating account documentation and process docs. Any PM will tell you that doing it is the best way to learn a task. There are so many scenarios you can get presented with, and being able to think on your feet and problem-solve are critical parts of project management. Documenting these processes is not always easy because situations can be very fluid, but knowing the end goal and keeping your eye on the ball makes all the difference.
Prioritizing and time-keeping can be challenging, particularly when you have several important tasks and a limited amount of time to do so or if any issues arise and you must problem-solve. Project management is a lot about problem-solving and being able to find solutions.
If there is ever a time when the right course of action is not immediately apparent to you, the best thing to do is briefly check in with your manager or supervisor to ensure you’re both on the same page. This is important when you are new to a role. The confidence to make decisions that make sense for the client and the team will come only with experience, so, in the meantime, it is OK to check in with someone you trust. Most of the time, people will be delighted to answer well-thought-out questions. Similarly, if your to-do list for the day seems unrealistic, a quick chat with your manager can help you prioritize and learn so, in the future, you will have a better idea of what can wait a little longer and what can’t.
I am proud of my can-do attitude. All jobs have difficulties, but a positive attitude makes all the difference. I am also very proud of the relationships I have built with my colleagues in my team and other departments. It is essential to have cohesion within a team, not only because it boosts morale and helps empower everyone but also because, ultimately, having a team that works like a well-oiled machine comes across to the client through a consistent, efficient, and reliable service.