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What Do Project Managers Actually Do?

What Do Project Managers Actually Do?
By Jolyon Hallows

I am often asked what project managers do. Sometimes, I’ve even been asked that by members of my own project team. It’s not easy to describe: My mother, when I patiently explained to her my job, replied, “That’s nice, dear.”

So what is it we do? At the highest level, we apply a set of tools and techniques to move an organization toward a goal. That goal could be to develop a new product or service, to create more effective ways of operating internally, or simply to fix some problem that has become an irritant or exploit some opportunity that has arisen. The organization hands the goal over to a project manager who then does whatever is necessary to achieve it. We are, in effect, goal achievers, turning organizational goals into reality. In doing so, we (mostly) follow proven processes and standard steps, which we modify for each particular goal or project. Read the Complete Article

So You Think You Want to Be a Project Manager?

So You Think You Want to Be a Project Manager?
By Andrea Brockmeier

A question posted on an online discussion group recently asked the question: What would make you quit your job as a project manager? What would make someone not want to be a project manager?

As I considered this, it didn’t take long for things to come to mind. I got to thinking about my students’ and colleagues’ experiences with absent, disinterested, or unsupportive sponsors. I hear this a lot. If you felt like you weren’t supported by a sponsor, that would surely make you want to do something other than project management.

Then I got to thinking about the statistics I had seen reporting on the rates of project success. I couldn’t remember what I had read exactly, but I seemed to remember that they weren’t so good. When I spent a little time digging around for project success rates, I was right. Read the Complete Article

Should Project Managers Also Be the Sponsors for Their Projects?

Should Project Managers Also Be the Sponsors for Their Projects?
By Kiron D. Bondale

A number of articles have been written regarding the critical role of effective sponsorship to project success as well as the common challenges project managers face when working with sponsors, so when one of my project managers suggested (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that the panacea might be to have project managers be the project sponsors for their projects, I felt this might be worth discussing!

If we use the Guide to the PMBOK’s definition, a project sponsor holds the purse strings. There are some obvious benefits if a project manager has full control over project financials (including the ability to increase expected spend) – worthwhile scope additions can be funded while no-value or “white elephant” pursuits can be halted. However, this power makes it difficult for a project manager to maintain a truly unbiased point-of-view when evaluating decisions or changes. Read the Complete Article

What Is a Project Manager Already?

What Is a Project Manager Already?
By Glen D. Ford

“We’re installing XYZ software and we need to hire a Project Manager. Go hire me one.”

How many times have you been handed a job requirement that looked like this? How often have you seen job requirements that left you scratching your head wondering what you should be looking for when hiring a project manager? Or worse, one that sent you off in search of the impossible dream.

A great deal of confusion exists with this position and what is expected of it. And that leads to an overload of the wrong type of applicant. Or worse, to hiring the wrong person for the job.

In this article, I’m going to address the question of “What is a project manager?” I’m also going to give you some direction as to how to select the appropriate individual.

So the first question is, “What is a project manager?”

In a simplistic answer, a project manager is simply an individual who leads a temporary endeavor or project to completion. Read the Complete Article

Role Clarity – Project Manager Responsibilities

Role Clarity – Project Manager Responsibilities
By James Clements

Poor role clarity is an issue many projects suffer and it directly affects the motivation and performance of project team members and particularly when it relates to project manager responsibilities.

Role clarity, or lack of it, is especially relevant in joint venture projects, integrated project teams and is most common in newly formed project teams. Lack of role clarity is where project team members are unsure of their day to day roles and responsibilities, the objectives of the project, their level of authority for spending or directing others and the formal reporting structures.

This results in confusion, overlapping effort by project team members and worse still gaps in responsibilities so work does not get completed where “I thought she was responsible for that” often occurs.

Worse still, poor role clarity can result in the errosion of project team members desire to be part of the team and exert above and beyond effort that is required in most projects. Read the Complete Article

Project Management Is Also About Selling!

Project Management Is Also About Selling!
By Kerry Wills

People drawn to the Project Management profession are usually organized and drivers of work. What Project Managers should also realize is that there is a “selling” aspect to their roles. Think about it – we are always selling something…

  • Confidence in delivery
  • Reasons to use standards or meet commitments
  • Options and recommendations to senior management
  • Motivating team members
  • The benefits of the program to stakeholders

It is not enough to just manage the project plan and trust that things will work out. We need to influence others around key aspects of our programs and this requires selling skills. So we need to always put ourselves in a ‘selling mindset’ and realize that part of our jobs is selling to the stakeholders.

Kerry Wills is a proven Program Manager/Portfolio Manager with an extensive background in Project Management, consulting, and application development. Kerry has consistently demonstrated the ability to plan and implement large and complex projects on time and on/under budget. Read the Complete Article

The Role and Significance of an Interior Design Project Manager in Commercial Construction

The Role and Significance of an Interior Design Project Manager in Commercial Construction
By Kathryn Grube

Abstract

The question of “what value does an interior design project manager really add to a commercial construction renovation or new construction project,” in addition to the structural responsibility of the architect, has been too long misunderstood. Interior designers who work as project managers seem to get the “short end of the stick”, due to the lack of knowledge by building owners or by the premises of other industry professionals, who do not find any worth in what a certified and practicing professional interior design can provide for the owner’s benefit. After reviewing many sources on interior design and project management, I was unable to locate a “basic‐101” educating document that provides an overview in layman’s terms for owner’s representatives that are perplexed or confused about just what an interior design project manager can provide for their project. Read the Complete Article

The Role of a Project’s Lead Technologist

The Role of a Project’s Lead Technologist
By Bruce McGraw

Every project that I have looked at over the years involving computers, software or technology had three key staff on them — The PM, the sponsor and the lead technologist (or some call them the Subject Matter Expert- SME). Selected by the project manager, the Project Management Office, program manager or senior staff, the role of lead technologist requires someone who can effectively balance technical leadership and design, while supporting organizational and project goals. Although the exact duties differ among organizations and projects, the lead technologist often is expected to:

  • Oversee or develop the system architecture and design
  • Work with clients to understand requirements and constraints

  • Create and present the project’s technical side to customers and senior management

  • Solve technical problems

  • Referee technical disputes

  • Recommend resources and tools

I could go on. However, I think you get the idea that this position can be extremely demanding. Read the Complete Article

Summary of Key Project Manager Actions and Results

Summary of Key Project Manager Actions and Results
By Michael Greer

The 20 Key Project Manager Actions are organized according to their support of the Five Essential Project Management Processes: initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing.

Initiating
1. Demonstrate Project Need and Feasibility A document confirming that there is a need for the project deliverables and describing, in broad terms: the deliverables, means of creating the deliverables, costs of creating and implementing the deliverables, benefits to be obtained by implementing the deliverables.
2. Obtain Project Authorization
  • A “go/no go” decision is made by the sponsor.
  • A project manager is assigned.
  • A “project charter” is created which:
    • Formally recognizes the project
    • Is issued by a manager external to the project and at a high enough organizational level so that he or she can meet project needs
    • Authorizes the project manager to apply resources to project activities
3. Obtain Authorization for the Phase
  • A “go/no go” decision is made by the sponsor which authorizes the project manager to apply organizational resources to the activities of a particular phase
  • Written approval of the phase is created which
    • Formally recognizes the existence of the phase
    • Is issued by a manager external to the project and at a high enough organizational level so that he or she can meet project needs
Planning
4.
Read the Complete Article

Seven Attributes of Effective Project Management

Seven Attributes of Effective Project Management
By Andrew Grimes

Delivering web publishing projects requires the careful coordination of a range of skill sets. There are the developers, who focus on technical challenges; the designers, information architects and QA testers, who primarily focus on addressing end-users’ needs; and of course there is the client team, whose prime focus is on business benefits. Meanwhile, the Project Manager’s focus is on the project team itself and how its members can best work together to deliver against all of these interests.

But what does a Project Manager really do?

Project Management Attributes

7 Project Management Attributes

Here are my top seven attributes of effective project management: the things we PMs ought to be doing to keep everything on track …

1. Building Confidence Within The Whole Project Team.

Without confidence, a project can very quickly lose its way. The Project Manager should therefore regularly check the health of ‘project confidence’ by reviewing the following questions:

  • Is there confidence that the project is on track?
Read the Complete Article

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