As I get ready to develop an internal training course entitled "Introduction to Project Management" I'm reminded of my past Project Management training. Invariably all Project Management training courses talk about the triple constraints, baselines, critical paths, scope, risk, cost management etc. While all these things, and more, are important to manage on every project, I think a lot of my training has been lacking in “What Matters Most” when it comes to successfully managing projects.
In my career I have found that the ability to work well with others, show empathy towards their needs, and being trustworthy have done more for my successes than being overly reliant on tools such as pert charts, resource loaded histograms, and quantitative risk analysis discussions. Granted, I haven't managed very large (over $10M) or overly complex projects, but I don’t think that matters when it boils down to what is important when managing projects. When managing any size project the project manager needs to focus on what is most important to that project. Only you, your sponsor, and stakeholders can answer that question. Is the most important thing getting the project done on time, coming in at or under budget, delivering at a high level of quality, or having a big WOW factor? (See Tom Peter's – “The Project 50” book for more on the WOW factor). You must decide what the Project “Driver” is before you begin your planning.
Don't get caught in the trap of believing that if you meet your Time, Cost, and Scope objectives your project is a success. If your users and/or sponsor aren't satisfied with the project's results YOUR PROJECT IS A FAILURE!
Every project needs a project sponsor, charter, a budget, a realistic agreed upon schedule, competent resources, a list of valid assumptions, a list of the project’s constraints, dependencies, and people assigned to your team that are dedicated and personally committed to seeing the project succeed. However, you as the project manager must have the trust of all stakeholders and demonstrate that your are committed to doing your best and delivering on your promises.
To get back to my initial point, your internal Project Management training (you don't just rely on external vendors do you?) must put a heavy emphasis on Project Communications and teaching your audience how to be TRUSTWORTHY Project Managers. Without the trust of your peers, management, and customers your project management career won't last very long.