A Project Manager's Take On Systematic Problem Solving

A project managers take on acting as the bridge between the partner and the team to handle curveballs
Siri Kaliparambil
Dec 21

There are quite a few curveballs that can be anticipated when collaborating with a client and it is in the company’s best interests to ensure that these challenges are appropriately dealt with and addressed in an appropriate manner. One way that this can be ensured is by appointing a person who can spearhead the project and ensure that deadlines are met while the team is addressing any issues that are arising in the development process. This is where the role of a project manager comes into play to establish clear goals for the project and see to it that client’s expectations are handled.

One of the primary problems that a project manager often faces along the way is risk management. This might be a bit daunting to project managers who are starting off, and there are some essential ways that this can be handled.

How does a project manager define a problem?

An efficient project kicks off the problem solving process right at the start of the project by organising tasks according to timelines and by strategizing a way to go forward. Ideally, this path should be flexible enough to allow for change in case something goes wrong and the project manager should be able to make changes through shared insights. When working with software development, these issues may be caused due to anything from a mismatch in the client expectations caused by misconstruing of requirements to technical issues arising along the way. In such scenarios, a project manager's job is to use efficient tools to detect and solve the issue. The Stacey Graph is a popular tool that is used by project managers to pinpoint what a potential problem could be using a graph wherein the requirements and technologies used are depicted. This graph segregates problems into categories like simple, complicated, complex and chaotic using which project managers can prioritise and address issues.

“Managing risk is different from managing strategy. Risk management focuses on the negative threats and failures rather than opportunities and successes.”

How can project managers strategize to solve a problem effectively?

You’re starting off an important project and you’re defining how to strategically define the path to set for your team, it is best to get this started with as soon as possible. Risk management is integral to any project and it is all about how the issue is dealt with and solved that gives direction to the project. So, how can this be achieved?

It is integral to try to understand the what and why’s of the problem by conducting a root cause analysis. A good project manager is alway on the lookout to see if the project is going as planned and it is important that he defines if and how dependencies are not being met.

If and when a problem is foreseen, it is important that the issue is discussed with the client and their insights are taken into account before proceeding. At this stage, it is important to look into every aspect of the development process and discuss both technical factors as well as any requirements which can be implemented to improve the product. Effective communication is critical, and project managers must document any changes that may influence the project while considering alternative remedies.

It does not end there! If a customer requests the implementation of a feature that is potentially redundant to the application, it is vital that the project managers discuss with the client to advise them and support their position that their request may not satisfy the project's needs. SImply put, a project manager is that connection between the client and team who takes on the role of bridging any communication issues and to ensure that the deliverables are both meeting expectations and that it is being done in a timely manner.

“If you do not invest in risk management, it doesn't matter what business you’re in. It's a risky business!”

Envisioning the idea by setting the right environment

A project manager’s primary responsibility is to understand the client and to communicate with the team on-call about the expectations because of which setting the right environment internally is critical. It is the project manager’s responsibility to ensure that everyone onboard the project is working together as a unit towards a common vision.

A good project manager knows how critical it is to understand the client’s expectations, but moreover it is about getting the team together and explaining the vision of the app idea to them. Project managers must be highly empathetic towards the team and ensure that everyone involved is working harmoniously towards the goal.

When working with a team, it is important to reiterate and set in place that the idea is collaboration as opposed to competition and that it is important that everyone is working together as a well-oiled machine. Having an effective relationship and good rapport helps the project manager to communicate better as well as understand the proceedings on the project in a better fashion.

In summation..

In short, let’s see how a good project manager defines and assesses risk:

  • Starting off as early as possible
  • Envisioning the idea and charting out how to deliver on time
  • Proactively looking out for potential risks
  • Exploring the right tools which can be used to handle specific curveballs
  • Discussing bottlenecks effectively with the client
  • Team communication and getting everyone on board the agenda

Hope this article has helped you to understand the importance of systematic problem solving and how a well-planned strategy by a project manager can be the make or break of a project!