The start of a project is a critical time; a lot of focus is put on budgets, scheduling and risk. One often overlooked aspect of project is the role the project manager plays. There are many tools that can help in predicting costs, timing and potential risks of the project. However, there are few tools to help decide on the project manager other than a ‘gut feel’, or stating ‘I have my best man on the job’. The way the project manager, manages the project can have a huge impact on the success of the project. A project manager needs to be able to clearly define milestones and convey these milestones to the project team. A project schedule and budget often relies on the belief that the team will be efficient throughout the project. A team without clearly defined goals or confusion within the team will not work to their full efficiency. In my own experience weeks have been “lost” during a project due to team members working on the wrong tasks or working on tasks that do not help the project move forward efficiently. Without definition and effective communication all the tools and analysis may not ensure sure the project is a success.
Another important aspect to a successful project is the ability to be able to adjust plans in an effective and timely fashion. This responsibility of decision making often falls onto the project manager. A project manager that gets bogged down in making decisions can affect the entire project. The time that it takes to make a decision can affect the schedule; also an improper decision can affect the possibility for a successful project. Also, during a project a project manager needs to be aware of any changes from the original plan to help the project move quickly and efficiently. Therefore a project manager that can make critical decisions in a timely fashion increases the chance of a successful project, and can assure the team that the project is well managed and help the project move forward. A British study estimated that for approximately every 1.5 billion dollars spent on projects, approximately 235 million dollars were at risk due to inadequate project management.
I have seen many instances in my career where the project manager and not the project nature, schedule or budget have had the largest impact on a project. Many times how the project is conducted and the communication in the project that is most beneficial and often this can be seen by number of successful projects a certain project manager has managed. These management styles are very hard to be measured often times it is overlooked and not addressed.
How important do you feel the actual project manager has in the overall success in the project?
6 thoughts on “Managers are bringing the project down.”
My organization tends to put people in charge of projects that have very little (if any) project management experience. Sometimes this actually works out very well, but in other instances it seems to be a complete failure. I don’t have any studies to reference, but I can only imagine that the lack of project management training plays a significant factor in the success or failure of a project. Senior managers might pass the blame onto project managers for failures, but should they take a closer look at themselves? Did they pick the right person to manage the project? Did that person have adequate training?
I actually experienced this first hand with a project that I was on back in 2009. The first project manager that was assigned was a perfect match in skill but unfortunately had to take a extended FMLA leave halfway through the project. The second one assigned was interim and was nothing less than a dictator in her management style which caused all team members to become disengaged and resentful towards the project in general. Finally after the complaints were tallied, the last project manager assigned somehow managed to finish the project though completion. After all was said and done, the project was four months behind schedule, hundreds of thousands of dollars over budget and in the first month, 30% of revenue was posted ‘late’ (where normal ranges for late revenue is anywhere between 2-5%).
I think the project manager has a significant role in the overall success of the project and should be proactively managing the project. The project manager should provide direction, and manage project scope, schedule, risk and budget. In the same way, the project manager should plan and manage communication in order to drive the project to execution. Above all, as stated in the article, “Communication Barrier’s in the Client’s Workplace and Possible Solutions,” “It is the project manager’s responsibility to run the show successfully by proactively anticipating such issues and planning how to tackle them.”
In my opinion a good project manager is critical in the project process. I do however also have the belief that good leadership can solve almost any problem. While you do need to have a good plan and outlined roles a project can not succeed without a strong leader. It has been my experience that even the best laid plans can be sidetracked without a good focused leader. It has also been my experience that good leader can overcome a poor project plan.
I believe that a project manager is an essential component of a successful project. The project manager should have the knowledge and experience to manager not only the human resources assigned to the project but also the financial objectives and foresee any potential risk and setbacks that may occur throughout the course of the project and its implementation. I also think that a project manager has to have in depth knowledge of the subject matter. For instance, I do not believe that a certified project manager is appropriate to manage all projects. Especially in a healthcare setting such as a Medicare advantage insurance plan, similar to mine, the project manager must have knowledge of the Medicare environment in order to be able to predict the outcomes of various regulatory, financial, and legal changes. Also, when I was job hunting last year, I had the opportunity to meet with several project managers at Baxter. Each of these project managers specialized in various sectors of the organization, and none of them had a PMP certification, only a keen sense of management and a practical or technical background that had nothing to do with business. Therefore, I think time and financial management are important to the success of the project manager but I think knowledge of the subject is more important to the success of the project’s success.
I think a project is like the game Jenga and the project manager is only one of the players. If the PM makes the wrong move, the whole thing can come crashing down, but it’s the same with any of the other players. Emphasis can absolutely be put on project planning, but I don’t think that the responsibility of correctly planning a project lies solely with the PM.
I do agree with the article; a good PM needs to be a good leader. Imagine how tall the Jenga tower could get if everyone was allowed to work as a team and communicate! That’s leadership.