Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

Why Being a Project Manager is Different

Posted by iammarchhare on 5 May 2009

Are you on fire or is your hair on fire?

OK, I’ve spent a lot of time in previous posts showing how project management is primarily about management, that soft skills count the most and how being a PM is much more than doing earned value calculations every week.  How then is a PM different than any other manager?

Managers and supervisors have their roles.  They manage people.  The primary objective of a project manager is to get a project completed.  These are complimentary roles.  You cannot get a project done without the people, and without successful projects the people are likely to get let go in today’s economy.  The roles are similar, but they have a different focus.

I’m still amazed at just how many organizations still don’t understand the role of a project manager.  A project manager:

  1. Stays calm in the storm.  When everyone else panics and runs around with their hair on fire, the PM will execute the contingency plan.

  2. Cuts through the noise.  When people try to make it hard and complicated, then the PM’s job is to break things down and simplify them.  This is true when building a WBS, it is true when gathering customer requirements, and it is true when troubleshooting an issues.

  3. Plans for things to go wrong.  Unexpected events always occur.  What is the plan when, not if, things go wrong?

  4. Knows when others are not living up to their end of the bargain.  You may not have direct control over the people, but you at least can identify when things are not getting done.

  5. Knows the experts to turn to when things go wrong.  These people may or may not be on your project team.

  6. Knows how to recognize people when things go right.  It would be a shame if good team members get reviewed by their direct manager/supervisor and that manager/supervisor doesn’t know of all the good things the team member has accomplished.

  7. Motivates people to do better and to improve.

  8. Always does a lessons learned and always looks for ways to improve.

A good project manager is on fire for getting out a quality result and making improvements to how things get done.  A good project manager is not one who runs around with their hair on fire just because that’s the way it’s always been done.


One Response to “Why Being a Project Manager is Different”

  1. […] by iammarchhare on 8 May 2009 Earlier I posted about “Why Being a Project Manager is Different” to differentiate PMs from managers.  However, from discussions with some companies over the […]

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