Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Project Managers: The Enemy Within?

~ By Harvey Kandola

Enemy button on a computer keyboard

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.

Who would be a project manager? There are times when it is akin to being a referee at a particularly fractious soccer match. You have to keep both sides apart while making sure that they play the same game and abide by the rules that they want to wilfully ignore. Sometimes it feels as if only you realise the fundamental difference; this is not a game, and if one side loses then nobody wins!

Classic portrayal of the gap between requirements and delivery
Figure 1: The classic portrayal of the gap between requirements and delivery

We've all seen the cartoon about the difference between what the customer wanted and what they got and we all know who has to manage the gap. What the team on both sides of the requirements/delivery divide should acknowledge is that this situation does not exist only as a comic creation, it exists as inevitable outcome of the fact that requirements evolve from abstract needs but software developers can only build still life. If this was honestly stated by all parties right from the outset then the first question that would be asked is who is going to make sure that we all walk away from this with a satisfactory outcome in the bag? The notion of the project manager as the client's mole or the supplier's secret salesperson would evaporate.

One of the most irritating debates would also get put to bed; namely why the client should pay for project management. The client should pay because the project manager serves the project, not the client nor his or her direct employer, who only employs project managers because they have long experience and understand the necessity of project management. A project manager is a necessary part of the cost of delivery.

Fortunately we live in a world where the value of a good project manager can be proved beyond doubt, provided he or she tracks everything related to the "infamous gap;" issues, changing requirements, moving time lines etc., and stays on top of it. Our project manager can walk into a meeting with the client or delivery team, and the data at their command rams home their value to either side. Wait a minute, either side? Maybe project managers are the enemy within after all.


Harvey Kandola is a technologist and certified PRINCE2 project manager, currently leading CounterSoft, makers of Gemini Project Management software. He can be reached at sales@countersoft.com


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Type the word for the number 9.
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Top 10 Qualities of an Excellent Manager

The word excellent on a virtual interface with a businessman standing behind it

What are the most important qualities of an excellent manager that allows them to tap into talents and resources in order to support and bring out the best in others.

The 8-Step Guide to Creating a Quality Project Schedule

Businessman with a Gantt chart

This article looks at a simple, practical approach to creating project schedules. After reading this article, you will have a sound approach to creating schedules that you can use for future projects.

Break Your PMP Studies Into Small Pieces

A mature student concentrating on her studies

Taking the PMP exam is one of the biggest steps you'll take in your career as a Project Manager. With careful planning you can pass with a minimum of stress.

But What is Best for the Customer?

Four business people's hands holding puzzle pieces

Ideally our project management methodology in a box process works perfectly for everyone. But clients come in all types and sizes and one size doesn't fit all.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Selestina Seyala Mandumbwa commented on…
How to Avoid Project Burnout
- Sat 20 April 8:32am

Tora L. commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Tue 16 April 1:03pm

Quinsey Moyo commented on…
Top 10 Qualities of a Project Manager
- Mon 15 April 4:35pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Re: Writing a CV for a Project Manager role https://t.co/yKHLVie1Dm about 1 day ago

General Project Management • Re: Recently passed the PMP exam. Read my story https://t.co/XCvxVpt1sc about 1 day ago

General Project Management • Re: Writing a CV for a Project Manager role https://t.co/uEzvcwb9tf about 4 days ago