Role of the Project Manager
Tips for Being a Good Project Manager
The project manager's role in a nutshell is the overall responsibility for the successful planning, execution, monitoring, control and closure of a project.
In Part 1 of this two part series, I covered the first five items on my list of eleven important things to do as you prepare for the project you are about to manage with and for your project customer. Again, this is just my personal list of eleven "must-do's", but the list has served me well as I gather info, plan for project kick-off, onboard and inform project team members, and work to cultivate a solid relationship with the project sponsor and his team.
You've been assigned a new project by your PMO Director…now what? Well, we all know you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. And from personal experience I can look back at my earliest projects when I was far less experienced and confident with project clients as I am now, and see how I did not exude an aura of confidence, competence and control. These days, I've learned to focus on these 11 things…
What must happen next to make the change a reality now that you've taken the leap of faith that this is the best thing for your current project workload and overall success, and not a huge negative mark on your PM career. Done right, done for the right reasons, and accomplished with the proper amount of proactive justification, you can make this switch look like it's absolutely the best thing that ever happened to the project and the organisation while casting you in a great light.
Ever had one of those projects that just doesn't gel well with the rest of your project workload? The customer interaction and neediness level is such that it needs a project manager with a smaller workload. Or the team needs more oversight than you can give at this moment, because you already have four other projects and four other project customers and four other project teams who require your attention and you can't micro manage this team and succeed on the other projects.
As a keen amateur athlete and chair of my local running club, I got to thinking about the similarities between running a marathon and managing a project. The more I thought about it, the more I realised they are similar; a thought process triggered by a throw away comment from my line manager, "a project is a marathon not a sprint", so what do they have in common...
It seems that these days everyone claims to be a project manager. Glancing through the jobs pages of newspapers, you'll see a wide variety of companies crying out for the skills of experienced project managers. Account managers are being renamed project managers; in fact anyone who can be classed as managing a project is now called a PM. But are these 'true' project management roles? We take a look at some of the project management jobs that don't require the skills of a true project manager.
Your first million dollar project is due to launch in two hours, when the customer calls in to request a major change in scope that will delay the project launch by many weeks. Meanwhile, the project team is still rushing bug fixes. Will you start panicking? Or are you in control of all your projects?
Keep in mind this is just my list and I don't claim to have really mastered any or all of these skills. But my experiences and observations over the course of 20+ years of project management has led me to believe that this list of 10 soft skills are the ones that seem to be the most important to have - or have acquired - in order to be a successful project manager, leader and confident strategizer for your teams, your organisation, and your projects. Let's look now at the final four on my list of ten...
In Part 1 of this three part series on 10 key soft skills for project managers, we examined the first three on my list - organisation, communication and time management. And while these are critical soft skills, possessing these will not guarantee project management success. Unfortunately, nothing really will. But having all 10 of what I cover in this three part series will definitely help. So, without further delay, let's look at the next three...
At times I've taken cuts at what I thought are the necessary characteristics of good project managers. And some of those are are probably included in this three part series I am presenting now. But I've never looked at it as 'what are my top 10 soft skills that I think project managers should have in order to succeed more than they fail.' I know that doesn't sound overly ambitious, but when studies show that projects fail more often than succeed, then I think it's a reasonable goal to shoot for.
I think we're all familiar with the meeting terminology 'one on one.' Just to clarify, in terms of the project - one-on-ones are meetings between two people involved in the project. These meetings are used to discuss priorities, to resolve issues, brainstorm on key decisions, to communicate overall responsibilities to the project and potentially just about anything that can arise on the project that needs to be discussed individually as opposed with the team as a whole.
Projects are increasingly becoming part of the daily business of many organisations, so the need for experienced and well-trained project managers is increasing as these organisations recognise the value of project managers with a track record of delivering complex projects successfully. Many organisations who assign individuals with little or no experience or training to a project manager role generally have a poor experience with project management.
Most people are prone to taking on as much more than they can handle. A polished professional hates to tell senior management that he's reached his limit - he has too much on his plate already. We aren't really programmed to tell those who are in charge of our raises and promotions and bonuses 'no more’.
Preparation is a key part of project management. If the project is not started correctly, it will end up with problems such as rework, scope creep, schedule delays, etc. While some might be tempted to jump in with both feet and start writing code or tearing down walls, the project manager needs to help provide a solid starting point for the project. It is this starting point that will help determine whether the project will eventually be successful or not. This starting point is the jumping off point for the project and the team, and it is worth the time and effort to make sure that there is a good foundation for the project in the long run instead of jumping blindly into something that is not fully understood by the project team. Here are a few key points to keep in mind when beginning a new project.
Project managers spend a great deal of time managing what other people are doing, creating processes for the team to follow, and making sure that everyone is working at their full potential. How often, though, do we spend time making sure that our pencils are sharpened and our edges are honed? This tends to get forgotten in the rush of being busy project managers. It can be just as important for a project manager to make sure he or she is performing at their best as it is for a project manager to make sure that their team is performing at their best. Here are some ideas to help a project manager keep their edges sharp.
There are some sure signs for project managers that a project needs a reality check. One is rebaselining the project plan with seventy hour work weeks and still having resources over allocated. Another is risk planning taking up more time than project planning. And yet another is when the project manager has lost count how many times the project charter and the requirements have been redefined and scrapped and redefined again.
One of the many skills required of a project manager is the ability to ask searching questions and persevere until a clear answer is obtained. Many of the pitfalls in projects could be avoided if questions were articulated fully and if the answers were given clearly and in detail. Here are 20 questions a project manager should always ask, whatever type of project they are working on in any type of organisation.
All projects are carried out under constraints - traditionally cost, time and scope. These three important factors, commonly called the triple constraint, are often represented as a triangle. More recently the triangle has given way to a project management diamond, with cost, time, scope and quality the four vertices with customer expectations as a central theme.
Why are certain stories so riveting, while others are just so-so? In your profession as a Project Manager, make sure that you are using good story techniques to advance in your occupation by showing others your story, not just telling. The act of showing, rather than telling, is very powerful. Become a captivating author of your career by following these essential tips.
A project manager is the person who has the overall responsibility for the successful planning and execution of a project. He or she must have a combination of skills including an ability to ask penetrating questions, detect unstated assumptions and resolve conflicts, as well as more general management skills.
Successful delegation is crucial to successful project management. Many people involved as leaders in project management are, however, afraid of delegation. They fear that if they delegate, the work won't be done properly. Deadlines won't be met. They cannot trust collaboration and teamwork to others; they have to do most things themselves and directly oversee the rest.
We know the expression "Don't Kill the Messenger" indicates that the person delivering the bad news is not the same person responsible for causing the bad news. In our day-to-day activity as Project Managers we find that the recipient of bad news (managers, project stakeholders, and customers) sometime forgets this and react inappropriately.
Imagine you are sitting in your car, wondering, what shall I do for dinner? Shall I pick up Chinese food to go? Meet my friend Sally for dinner, or go home and cook dinner myself while watching American Idol? All of a sudden you are sitting there, frozen in time, unable to make a decision about what to do for dinner. And this is one of the easier choices in life. Don't be upset. Indecision can happen to anyone, and often occurs when you least expect it.
Keeping a project management team running smoothly can be a challenge, especially when budgets are lean and expectations are high. Every manager needs to figure out the best way to lead and motivate, but a few baseline principles will keep you pointed down the right path.
There are a great number of ways to manage website projects, but regardless of your management style, there are behaviours that you should learn to avoid as much as possible. Steering clear of these pitfalls will not only allow you to get through projects on time and on budget, but will leave a very good impression on your clients, and win you more work in the future.
Savvy project managers have radar and can sense and predict events and circumstances. Their brains are gigantic magnifying glasses. They see what others don't. If you have someone like this in your organisation or on your team, it may take a bit to acknowledge their abilities and foresight. Once they have several successful, complex projects under their belt with your company, it is time to trust them to do their job.
In order to be successful, there are some skills, knowledge and competencies that are must haves for new supervisors and managers. Successful managers are well rounded with a good sense of the business acumen and the ability to influence others rather than relying on power and authority. Here are 10 things every manager should know to be successful in their management role.
"Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements." PMBOK, 4th Edition. Right. If I were reading this definition to make a decision about becoming a project manager, it would totally leave me cold. The term Project Management itself has a kind of vague, undefined shape to it that always leaves me reaching for an image when people ask me, 'What is it, exactly, that you do?'
They huddle in a corner, hunched over the Gantt chart you just handed out, muttering darkly. Only the occasional, quick glance in your direction betrays that you are the subject of their reproach. You sigh and for a moment are tempted to bat for your corner, but in the end you realise that it's best to ignore them. A quick drink after work and they'll come round. Instead, you scan through the list of change requests, outstanding issues, bug fixes and the financial summary and prepare yourself for your next meeting. This one ought not to be so bad, the client might not like what you have to say either, but at least they don't see you as the enemy within.
If you are a project manager you really need leadership skills! Today's project managers must have leadership skills in order to effectively perform their roles in the organisation and stand out from the crowd. Something must make you distinct from the others, especially if you are currently job searching or worried about your job security given the current economic climate.
As companies turn to project based work to help make and keep their organisations competitive and profitable, the need for skilled project leaders will continue to increase. Regardless of your particular work management methodology or business project management software, do you take time to foster the following skills and attributes?
Factual and anecdotal evidence confirms that IT investments are inherently risky. On average, about 70% of all IT related projects fail to meet their on-time, on-budget objectives or to produce the expected business results. In one KPMG survey, 67% of the companies who participated said that their programme/project management function was in need of improvement. Why? A number of leading factors for project failure were suggested by the survey, including the "usual suspects": unreasonable project timelines, poorly defined requirements, poor scope management, and unclear project objectives. Granted, all of these factors can play a role in project success. But are they the cause or project failure, or just a symptom of some larger issue?
One question I get asked a lot is, "what does it take to be a successful project manager?" It's as if there's a secret recipe for being successful in the field of project management. Some would argue that nothing but experience counts; others favour formal training and certifications. Perhaps the best answer is to have a balance of both real-world experience and training.
This article covers 7 ABC's of Project Management. Derived from the competencies of project managers, this article reviews areas that make project managers successful in their vocation. As a contributor and reviewer of the PMBOK Guide Fourth Edition, Bill Thom feels that it is our responsibility as Project Managers to learn and share with each other in a manner that will assist in project success.
Successful project management is a combination of approximately 20% hard skills and 80% soft skills. The hard skills relate to the actual processes, procedures, tools and techniques comprising planning, organising, monitoring and controlling, while the soft skills relate to the project managers attitudes and behaviours. In addition, I believe that a truly excellent project manager must become a master of paradox. This article provides a specification of the hard and soft skill along with a listing of the attitudes and behaviours required of a great project manager.
In my last article we learned the 6 key skills required to be a successful project manager, and why those are more important than qualifications. In this article, I look at how you can acquire, learn or improve these skills, in order to become a more successful project manager.
You've worked on a project, and you think you'd like to have a try out at doing the project management role. It doesn't look too hard, or maybe it just looks exciting. So what does it take to become a project manager? What skills do you need?
Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed, Sloth. You either recognise these as the seven deadly sins or as themes for prime-time television. Nonetheless, you were probably taught as a child that these are bad and you shouldn't do them. For purposes of this article, do as you were taught and think bad when you commit these similar sins in the workplace.
A successful project manager is one who can envision the entire project from start to finish, and have the prowess to realise this vision. To keep pace with business and IT, project managers need to make their management practices more flexible.
From a textbook perspective, the role of a project manager is quite easy to describe. A project manager is one, who looks into the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to describe, organise, oversee and control the various project processes. Having said that, the roles and responsibilities of a project manager differ from company to company. It is important to understand what role a particular project manager will play in a certain company or organisation.
An excellent manager taps into talents and resources in order to support and bring out the best in others. An outstanding manager evokes possibility in others.
During years of software development projects it's striking how different project managers are. This article looks and the differences between project leaders, project managers and project monitors. Here's the question: What type of project manager do you need to have for the best outcome on a software development project?
Effective management is not just about being able to apply budgetary constraints or running projects to time. In fact, 70% of businesses fail to achieve their desired goals and the causes for failure are usually lack of strong leadership, lack of team skills, and lack of stakeholder engagement. These more subtle skills can have a huge effect on successful outcomes.
For project managers "no" is often the toughest word in the English language to deploy. We often prefer the classic PM strategy of "Yes, but..." as the softer, kinder, gentler alternative. "No" sounds harsh. Uncooperative. It sounds reticent and recalcitrant. It sounds negative. And yet, for many of us, the time has come as professionals to set "yes, but..." aside and venture into the world of "no."
More and more in today's environment Project Managers are being judged on how well they operate within, and adhere, to standard practices and disciplines. This is all very well, but let us stand back and think for a moment. If I were to challenge any one of you to think of someone you respect, who consistently delivers projects on time, who always gets called on when things get tough. I am sure that you could name that person without knowing how well they work within the practices and disciplines of your company.
In project management, we tend to focus on the method. And there is no shortage of methods (Six Sigma, Scrum, Waterfall). The method is the what of project management and is often at the core of an effectively run project. But the method can only take your project so far.
Let's assume for a moment that the great quest in The Lord of the Rings was a project. Now that's not as odd as it might sound. Just think of the criteria. They had a clear goal and purpose. They had a team of people with defined (if unspoken) roles. All of the team needed to work together to achieve the goal. There was a definite time constraint in terms of when the goal needed to be achieved.
Are you tired being an average project manager, working on average projects, being passed over for promotion, and getting an average performance review? You need to understand something right now. There are new challenges and expectations today that require every project manager to evolve to the next level. If you do not take action now, you will be left behind.
If you are new to project management don't be bamboozled by all the jargon. Managing a project is just another branch of business management. There are well understood methodologies, tools, guidelines, and procedures to help you on your way to developing the important life-skill of project management. This article sets out the key skills needed to become a competent project manager.
We are all project managers. Some of us manage projects like vacations or reunions, while others run implementations of new software systems, consolidation divisions of companies, launch new products, or build buildings. While the scale changes for different kinds of projects, and complexity changes as more people are affected and involved; at the core there are questions you can answer to help get any project off to a better start.
This week, I have had a number of clients ask me if I have project managers available to manage urgent projects. Companies want to expand and move forward but the lack of project managers (PM's) is holding them back.
Yes, there have always been projects. But never before has it been so important for every person to be able to lead, manage or participate in projects of all sizes. Here are five things you can do today to excel with small team or personal projects.
This article is dedicated to a better understanding of what a project manager is and what a project manager does. Just as important, we will also be talking about what a project manager isn't.
Scott Berkun has some very interesting insights about the distinction between project managers, in the traditional sense and definition of the term, and project trackers, who may have the title of project manager, but essentially only gather actuals and create reports for sponsors and management without actually leading project teams during execution. Scott also provides a handy set of questions that can help one determine exactly what role a project manager is playing on projects.
Project management is what project managers do, not what project management software or a methodology does. No software exists that will deliver a project on time and on budget all by itself. No matter how "good" the software or methodology, it is only as good as the people using it.
What do you do when you have a great idea? You know how to save your company a ton of money or you've thought of a way to really improve a product. The problem is that you know that you have a great idea, but no-one else does. And you can't convert this idea into reality by yourself. You need resources. You need money. You feel that you need permission. What do you do?
It's been a tough climb to your project management position. How do you establish your authority and inspire respect? What must be done to influence project results and growth and make your stay long and productive?
Project management is a tough role. You often find yourself being pulled between keeping users, subordinates, team members and senior people happy. Given these demands, what do the best project managers do that makes them stand out from the crowd?
Project goals keep the focus on what is most important. However, on some teams these primary goals are lost in their meeting's activities. Make sure each meeting is structured so as to move the project forward. Even if the progress is only inches rather than by huge leaps, the team must be pushing the project forward as quickly, safely, and reasonably as possible.
With the increased attention given to "leadership" in today's business community, one could argue for the simple substitution of the expression project management with project leadership. Rightly so, since in some literature, the role of leader or manager is used interchangeably. Yukl (2006) uses the terms leader, manager and boss interchangeably to indicate people who are in positions in which they are expected to perform the role of leadership. Leadership in this context is used loosely to cover management as well. In order to answer this question adequately, we look at some definitions of leadership and management.
As a manager or leader, chances are that you will be given responsibility for a project at some time in your career. It could be a new computer system implementation, building a new facility, introducing a new piece of equipment or a new product or service. How can you excel in this area?
These ten ideas will help improve your projects. Are these ten rules the top ten? You decide. But don't take too long. Share these rules with your team. Your team members are sure to help you carry them out.
If you have been doing project management for a while, your confidence has probably gotten an occasional shaking. And the resulting lack of confidence hurts you, but it also hurts your team members who need you to be confident and not self-conscious. You're their leader after all, and they want you to have a strong plan, vision, self-esteem and the confidence to lead.
Project management excellence goes beyond producing project charters, detailed schedules and colourful status reports. Today's project managers must acquire the skills necessary to combat a myriad of modern challenges. Factors such as downsizing, merger mania, restricted finances, an accelerated business pace, a multidisciplinary world, rising competition and seemingly ceaseless change, acting singly and in concert, demand much more.
The key to being a smart project manager is to remember how you are going to manage your project, to know what to do if it does not work, and to win and keep the support of all of the project stakeholders.
An introduction to some of the most important best practices which will enable you to plan and manage your projects on time and within budget.
Project management best practices can easily be applied on small projects to enable you to plan and manage your project successfully. This article looks at how to apply these practices without creating too much paperwork or overhead.
Whether planning your wedding, developing a new website or building your dream house by the sea you need to employ project management techniques to help you succeed. This article summarises 7 key project management best practices to help you achieve project success.
Intelligent disobedience requires taking risks, creativity, flexibility and perseverance. Following this approach can have significant benefits in project management terms and can make the difference between good and great project managers.
What qualities are most important for a project leader to be effective? Over the past few years, the people at ESI International, world leaders in Project Management Training, have looked in to what makes an effective project leader. With the unique opportunity to ask some of the most talented project leaders in the world on their Project Leadership courses ESI have managed to collect a running tally on their responses.
As a project manager it is important to be able to give and receive feedback effectively. Feedback is best given on a one to one basis soon after the event that triggers its need. Here are some tips that can help.
Here are some essential tips and reminders we have compiled for those new to project management or in case you need to refresh your memory.
"Duration estimates are just that, estimates. The activities will occur in the future and there are no facts about the future." - David Hulett
"There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." - Peter F. Drucker
"Why do so many professionals say they are project managing, when what they are actually doing is fire fighting?" - Colin Bentley