Why I love project management

Last week Brooke and I celebrated our new roles as co-project managers by running our very first Praxis meeting. We had a fairly ambitious agenda, and I must admit that I was a little bit concerned about whether our enthusiastic (debate-loving) group would be able to get through everything we wanted to do, but thanks to Brooke’s no-nonsense attitude, our pre-planned strategy, and the team’s brilliant cooperation, I think we can call our first official act as co-project managers a decided success.

The most important product of our meeting was the project workplan timeline the team collectively created. I know that deadline-lovers Brooke and I feel six hundred times better about how the rest of this semester is going to proceed, but I think everybody is happier knowing exactly what needs to happen and when. I would only be exaggerating slightly to say that it was magical to watch the workplan take shape. Despite the fact that we’ve all been meeting weekly for an entire semester, as the project has progressed and the design team and programming team have been working more independently of one another, it has been difficult to see how everything fits together. But when we had to agree on deadlines for project milestones (when will we be able to display a text? when will user accounts be ready? when should the highlighting tool be functional?), designers and programmers had to engage in a dialogue about what each group would need from the other in order to meet these goals.

The meeting served as yet another reminder of how absolutely, impossibly lucky I am to be part of this program. As project managers, Brooke and I are ideally positioned to understand how the Praxis Program and our project Prism work as collaborative ventures. It is impossible for every member of the team to keep track of what each subgroup is doing at all times, but it is necessary that project managers do just that. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty! I’m sure I speak for both of us when I say that we are thrilled and honored by the trust our team has placed in us. We won’t let you down!

Brooke posted last week about seeking out ways to engage in collaborative work, and I want to point very quickly here to the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. I attended DHSI last summer, and it certainly didn’t disappoint on the collaborative front. Brooke and I are both making the trip to Victoria this summer, and I’m sure she will only find more evidence there of what she’s seen so far as a graduate student in the humanities: seek collaboration, and you shall find it. If you’ve never been but always wondered, I highly recommend that you make this the year you join the (collective) fun!

Sarah is a 2011-12 Praxis Fellow, former NINES Fellow, and a PhD candidate in the Department of English.

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