Being involved in data management (DM) in non-commercial clinical research, there is a constant challenge to manage the different DM tasks within a project/study or even worse when involved in contemporaneous projects/studies. How do we efficiently manage timelines for one task or project, without jeopardizing another task or project?
Please share your comments, experiences or tools for good practices on project management and organizing of data management.
I believe Project management for data management is very similar to project management for other industries. The basic tasks are the same: write documentation, create timeliness, manage deliverable and milestones, facilitate meetings, manage the team and provide point of contact for everyone involved in the project. What differs is the dynamics on the subject matter, scope and complexity of the DM process.
Managing and working on multiple projects is a common skill, the trick is learning how to plan your (weekly/monthly) schedule so that you can be productive on all of your projects. Switching back and forth between projects on a daily basis rarely ends up being efficient or productive. Hence controlling and implementing the activities within the timelines needs a lot of planning, focus on goals and objectives, guidelines, team integration and better communication.
Based on experience, I have realized that to complete most data management process and tasks under tight schedule and other constraints, close and effective communication are essential. In order to speed up the communication flow, am using the "Partnership Approach" with other departments that are composed of a team of research assistants, clinical officers, research scientist, project Managers etc. Under this approach, I have improved co-operation among different parties, encouraged contribution and created harmony environment. In return a "win-win" situation to all parties is being achieved for most project activities.
Another win has been using project simulation that has allowed us to examine the feasibility of the schedule under different conditions, variable and events; for example we are able to see what would happen to a project if activities were delayed or cancelled hence reducing the risk and helping me to prioritize.
Creating templates for common reoccurring project activities have also helped to eliminate the need to reinventing the wheel every time a new study is initiated this has contributed to save time. Not to forget keeping a count on lessons learnt which will definitely shape the future of data management.
Guys I believe knowing how to split time, resources and energy across range of projects and at the same time accomplish our operation responsibilities is a challenge in data management though I believe if we shared our practice we will be able to meet our goals and objectives as data managers without having to go through so much pain. I am enthusiastic and looking forward to reading more from members..
Great contribution Mary, I agree with most of the practical points you have listed.
I would also like to point out that key to successfully managing multiple DM projects is a proper assessment of the total workload associated to all the projects, along with associated staff time required, and ensuring that these resources are available. PM techniques such as task and time management can help but you are always going to struggle if you take on the workload for 3 people, unless the quality of your project outputs is downgraded.
So please take the time at the beginning to sit down and plan properly, and let your PIs or bosses know about the detailed workload involved, how long it would take to deliver based on staff availability.
Tell them things like, if I am alone it would take n months at 0.3 of my time as you have 3 projects, but at .6 it would take half (n/2) the time.
try and estimate the %time spent on each project overall, and if the total for all the projects is far more than 1 then find a solution with your boss.
Bonne chance et a bientot,
I share your point of view perfectly. We have every day to review our priority to achieve our goals and is not always easy. The training in project management has brought me a lot of tools to better organize myself. As you say communication is a key pillar of this good organization.
Dear Arouna, Mary and Sayouba,
with my little knowledge on Project Management, I share same sentiment as Time management is a key priority to a project's success and it goes with the scope and logistics available. Not leaving out the number of projects at hand.
Very glads for all of valued comments. I agreed with your point about Time Management when we are only one who response many projects. Sometime, to reach the goal of each project with good quality, based on my experiences in low-resource setting, we also need to delegate and trust to other DM staff rather than we response alone. On our experiences, we try to communicate with PI or boss about our needs/requires but they also feedback to do so (delegate and just observe) but it means time we still full response to PI or boss on this delegated project. Moreover, when try delegation method, we faced-out that we need to have DM staff whose capacity is also qualified with this work. If some projects are similar deadline and if we divided the schedule our time for those projects, we will not follow the deadline.
So my view is only Time Management may still face-out few challenges, but if we have qualified DM staffs delegate some and we just observe and advise with our full responsibility, I wish it would be more better.
Please input more suggestions or solutions from your experiences to help each other who still challenge this issue.
Thanks and best regard everybody.