Working as a professional project manager comes with some core skills in organising and keeping up to date with best business practices. Having worked in project management since 2000, Murray McPherson has learned a thing or two about keeping on top of changes within the industry as well as how to upskill in a manner that will benefit his career. Having been freelance since 2014 and using YunoJuno since 2015, Murray has gained some valuable exposure working on a variety of projects.
We spoke to Murray about managing client expectations, being super organised and keeping good ‘digital hygiene’ out of hours to maintain a good work/life relationship.
The core skills of a project manager often mean getting heavily involved in different client projects and offering support in various ways. We asked Murray how he establishes boundaries with his clients so projects don’t overrun or creep into his own time;
Transparency with clients is essential, especially if you are working from home. It's not reasonable for a client to expect you to be available to answer calls or messages at midnight.
Speaking of ‘out of hours’ comms from clients, we then asked Murray how he keeps a good work/ life balance working as a freelancer;
I try to keep good digital hygiene after work hours.
When it comes to learning new skills, Murray shares his own techniques for;
Learning on the job. During any breaks I take, I’m more active with online classes and books. My most recent was a class in Data Ethics, AI and Responsible Innovation, a course from Edinburgh University’s EdX program.
As well as bringing structure to a project, a lot of the time project managers are also relied on to measure key performance indicators throughout the project, so we asked Murray how he manages expectations for reporting and handling clients through this process;
Any sort of performance metrics must be agreed with the client before the project starts. This is particularly important with any kind of agile project – where there may not be clear milestones or deliverables that a client can feel comfortable with. Transparency is very important.
Reporting and management aside, we then asked Murray to share some other common issues that arise when working with different clients;
Almost without exception clients want the highest quality product at the cheapest price delivered in the shortest period of time possible. Sometimes, however, this is actually all they do know about what they want. It's important to help the client to realise that the discovery phase, understanding and scoping what is actually needed, is an essential part of any project.
Murray often tackles this by in his own words “Involving the client in stand-ups” and keeping them well-informed throughout the project.
When it comes to clients changing this behaviour, Murray feels that;
Walking them through the process really helps, and emphasising that a solid Discovery phase reduces time and costs while improving quality in later phases.
Sharing some of the best advice Murray has had so far working as a freelance project manager, he shared the rather perfect;
Anyone can find a problem, project managers find solutions.
For anyone considering a career change into project management, Murray admits;
It’s a very competitive field so having a strong background in project management or a similar discipline is a good idea.
And finally, we asked Murray how he felt after hearing he was a finalist in the Freelancer Awards in 2021;
Flattered, honoured and happy. I know I must have been recommended by those I’ve been working with and that means a lot!
Want to work with Murray on your next project? Why not book him today.