Technically speaking, I wasn’t the project lead at the beginning of last week’s project. It happened that our project lead was sick on Tuesday, and I decided to take the role and lead the team.

I didn’t have much time to learn how to be a project lead. The whole team got less than 72 hours to present to the client a project that covers 4 dashboards, and all the clients gave two days ago was a list of 16 company names, that’s all, nothing else.

I would say we did it, and we have done a great job (according to the client’s feedback). Here are a few suggestions I learned last week, which might help anyone who needs to lead a one-week (or less) data project.

1. Do not assign any task to yourself – this is crucial. Your role here is to coordinate and, most importantly, know the needs of both your client and your teammates. Remember, the team needs focus: everyone only gets one week! And you are the one who can bring concentration, and to understand the focus is never an easy job.

2. Trust your teammates. All of them are brilliant and capable of developing a neat dashboard and a sophisticated Alteryx workflow. Otherwise, they won’t be here. You need to lead the way, not intervene unnecessarily.

3. Try to get the style guide from the client on DAY ONE. If there is nothing you can get from the client (often the client was too busy to give much useful information), the style guide will be the only thing the client can give you without much delay. And it is useful! Once all dashboards are formatted in the same way, it’s instant professionalism the client observed from watching your presentation, and professionalism is always the foundation of trust between you and your clients.

4. Agile and Waterfall are two popular project management methodologies. Waterfall project management is a more traditional approach to project management that involves a linear flow. Agile, on the other hand, believes in an iterative approach. Waterfall is best suited for projects with specific deadlines. For weekly-based projects, deadline is key, and waterfall approach should be first considered before the project even starts.

5. Microsoft Planner, Tasks, & To Do (YouTube). This is a powerful Teams add-on that we haven’t had a chance to try on, but it could help the team leader to manage and assign tasks to team members, and it’s also a great addition to the backlog system. It creates an interface in Teams that shares each team member’s current job status – the other members would also be familiar with each other’s tasks and keep an eye on them in case anyone needs a hand.



Luke Yin
Author: Luke Yin

Before joining the Data School, Luke was a PhD researcher studying urban history of global cities at the University of Melbourne. Previously, Luke worked as an internal accountant for a Melbourne local winery. When conducting urban research, Luke discovered his passion for data visualisation and analysis through a number of university-based digital projects. Later, this became the reason for him to join the Data School. Luke wants to combine his expertise in research and business with data analysis to help solve real-world problems.