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Do Project Managers Need to Know Content?
By Kerry Wills

There is a common viewpoint that Project Management skills are transferable across industries, companies and types of work. I do subscribe to this belief to a point. Project Managers need to have the fundamentals of estimating, planning, resource management, communications, risk management and issue management to name a few. A Project Manager can focus on managing the project and defer any content-related topics to the team. However, I believe that it is important for a Project Manager to also understand the content so that linkages and decisions can be made quicker.

PMs have a perspective that spans across the projects and therefore they have the ability to see implications and impacts that team members may not be able to see individually. They are also held accountable for the overall outcome of the project. Therefore I do think that they need to have a knowledge of both the business content and the technical solutions.

On my own projects I set up time with the Business Analysts to review requirement documentation. I also sit with the technical team to understand the systems and technical solution being implemented. I have found this very useful in working sessions so that I understand what is being said as well as can poke at potential issues and risks. I also believe that being able to speak the language of the business and technical teams adds credibility for a Project Manager.

What do others think?

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. Kerry runs a blog, Adventures in Project Management.

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