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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When Project Managers Attack! (Rewind)

As a project manager I have had my share of frustrations over the course of my career. Some days while working on certain projects I feel like why bother. I get to the point of thinking, if others don't care about the project's objectives, why should I? I can only give one good reason why the project manager should care about their projects; THAT IS WHAT WE GET PAID TO DO!

Certainly there are other reasons to care: a sense of ownership, responsibility to our customers, a commitment to finish what we started, personal pride, professional integrity, because it is the right thing to do, because others are counting on us, because as leaders we must always do what is expected, etc, etc, etc...

Project managers wear many hats. We are members of teams, leaders of teams, we are followers, we are stakeholders, we are fiscal planners, we are risk managers, risk takers, planners, schedulers, mentors, quality assurance reps, writers, motivators, listeners, we are empathetic, we are sympathetic, we demonstrate common sense when others don't, we demonstrate a fair and balanced approach to problems, and lots more.... You get the idea. You can see why we are sometimes frustrated. You can see why we need to be as professional as we can all the time.

I have communicated with many people that read this blog, and there is a lot of frustration out there in the Project Management world. The consensus seems to be that yes, there are organizations that do a good job of Project Management and have a great support structure for their project managers. But, it seems that a large majority of organizations don't do a very good job implementing and/or supporting project management, and according to what I hear, quite a few do a terrible job.

In many organizations the project manager position (if one exists) isn't viewed as a profession, but a job that can be performed by virtually anyone in the organization. That can be frustrating for those of us that consider ourselves to be professionals. We all get frustrated sometimes no matter what job we have. We all feel like we aren’t being supported which can lead us to believe that we are being “setup to fail”.

You know what, we all get paid to do a job, and sometimes the job isn't easy, fun, or structured the way we would like. If our managers value us as individuals then they should be willing to hear our ideas about what we need to be successful.

Keep in mind; the project manager can’t be successful on his or her own. They need a management structure in place that is committed to seeing Project Management succeed. Management must at least agree that Project Management adds or can add Value. Management must be able to state the Value that Project Management is adding or should be adding to the organization. If management can’t do that then you probably need to find a new place to work. It is that important.

Rule #1 - Team Conflict hurts Projects!

Team members need to remember that they must manage their departmental responsibilities as well as their project tasks to support the project to which they are assigned. Their management needs to assist the team members in setting priorities so that the project work doesn't suffer when the departmental work becomes more important.

Rule 2 - Management Apathy Hurts Projects!

All levels of impacted management must remember that if they are not engaged and interested in a project's success then their lack of support is a major contributor to project failure.

Rule #3 - Poor Planning Hurts Projects!

Project Management can only work when the project manager is given time to plan properly. Also, the project sponsor must explain the project's objectives clearly, and most importantly, obtain the entire team's commitment to meet the all of the project's objectives (this is a critical planning component). Simple project management principle: If you Fail to Plan, then you Plan to Fail. The failure to allow enough time for proper project planning is the sponsor's fault.

Keep fighting the Good Fight!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually a number of therats which hurt projects are quite big.

- Lack of authority given to PMs so they can't get what projects need for the rest of the team.

- Disconnect with salesforce so projects deadlines, requirements or both are impossible.

- Not enough tools to support project management. Especially in bigger projects mails and excel sheets can't do everything and PMs need some software to support their work.

- Chaos all over the place. That's obvious yet somehow very common.

- Office politics. This one can be a real pain in the ass for anyone involved and since PMs have to deal with a lot of people they're ususally first to be hurt.

- Poor risk management or no risk management at all. That's like driving fast with your eyes closed.

- Stakeholders who doesn't support the project. Another thing which shouldn't happen but it happens oh so often.

- Micromanagement. If top management mess too much with people it often ends up with a lot of context switching, random assignments etc. As a result deadlines are missed and costs grows.