What To Do When Your Project Guidelines Are Not Clear

Archana Chaudhary

Senior Engineering Manager at Adobe



With new processes, the project managers have a meeting amongst themselves and they decide which features they want built. The issue is that we are not included in these meetings and we don't find out about it until it's done and a lot of the time the project guidelines aren't very clear or detailed.

Actions taken

There are a number of things you can do to alleviate this situation. One of the things that I have experienced that has worked is story mapping. Since they are having these meetings amongst themselves and not giving you the key information, if at all possible, try to insert yourself two steps ahead. Tell them that you want to sit in on these meetings to be made aware of the changes. If that part is out of your control, once they hand you the new project guidelines, you should have the authority to start story mapping . First, ask your manager to hand you the standard product specs because you have questions and it is important that you understand the gist of it. Ask them if they can actually come and draw the whole story for you and your team instead of just handing you the paperwork after it is all said and done. When they bring in that story, give them space to explain but try to be as visual as possible. Part of the story mapping meeting is to have a common understanding and go really deep down into the phases and the tasks that need to be done.The most important to do is have a common alignment of what needs to be done and why. After the presentation, take some time to get with your team to come up with the questions and ideas that you have for them. It is very possible that they could have already talked about them or you could be giving them new ideas to think about. Once you come up with your questions, bring your product manager in and ask them the questions and show them any ideas or proposals that you came up with. . The main purpose is that you want their feedback and they will be happy to give you the feedback because it's in their benefit. It is possible that some of the things you will come up with will be eye opening to them. You need to reiterate to the product manager how important it is for him to align the team with his vision and to have meetings where you can actually deliver something.

Lessons learned

In a new project, especially in a change of process, having a story mapping or kickoff is essential. Your project managers would like to know what the team is working on and how progress is being made, and it is important that you know all of the details of the project so communication is key.

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Archana Chaudhary

Senior Engineering Manager at Adobe

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