Good versus Great

My experience to project management is minimal; and the actual idea seems slightly ambiguous. According to, it can be defined as the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. To some degree the idea of PM has been informal, and as of recent (mid 20th century) has it began to emerge as a distinct profession. In an article I found on “Good to Great: How to be the best Project Manager” it discusses several areas of topic on how to be more successful.

The first point compares a Good Project Managers actions versus a Great Project Managers actions.

•A Good Project Manager simple takes care of scheduling, communication issues, and production.

•A Great Project Manager is more deeply involved in building the skills of team members. They are also more involved in the tactical execution of the strategic vision of the project.

Lessons to take away from this are that Great Project Managers are more adaptive. They know how to bring the best out from their team. They know when to encourage rather than push.

A second point that the article highlights is the mapping of the project.

•A Good Project Manager will try to stay on task

•A Great Project Manager knows that the track will have unexpected turns and can created real-time solutions.

Lessons to take away are that aside from the top priority of helping customers/products reach success; Great Project Managers are aware that the administrative details of their projects have a higher purpose. Taking the time to look up from the projects plans and schedulers to consider the long-range, strategic outlook.

One of the more important points that the article alludes to is the communication abilities of a good and great Project manager.

•Good Project Managers hire talented teams

•Great Project Managers know their team at hand and know how to utilize each person’s skills at the correct time.

The lesson to take away here is that a great Project Manager will know how to use the talents of each team member on his or her team. Knowing how to get everyone on board with the projects strategic vision will bring out the best work. Effective communication is a key attribute to a Great Project Manager.

These are all key areas that I agree make a Great Project manager. However, I think to get to great you have to be good. You talk with people and you ask how they got into this profession, and often times it seems as if they fell into the position. I think these people start in smaller roles with less responsibilities and take the initiative on certain tasks that may demonstrate or exemplify these characteristics of a good project manager type role.


One crucial part of the planning phase of any project is resource allocation.  In today’s project environment, there is more demand to shorten project timeframes while increasing quality.  I found two articles I’d like to share on resource allocation.

Project Resources: Guarding Against SME Overload 

Project Management Best Practices: Estimating the Work

In order to meet the overall project deadline, subject matter experts are often allocated less time to complete the tasks identified in the project plan.  Tasks are outlined based on the minimum time required to complete which doesn’t account for other projects and work, sick days, or vacation.  The article, Guarding Against SME Overload, discusses the problem of overloading SMEs and the importance of avoiding it.

Combat Overload: Speak Up!

Many SMEs are involved in more than one project or they are part of a project and they still have other work to do.  The article suggests that “Employees and contractors must have a level of comfort to raise the issue of work-overload to the project manager and their direct manager as well.” [1]  I think it is crucial for Project Managers to create this level of trust with the people working on their project.

No matter how well I think I have planned a project, I have frequently found myself in a position where resources are over allocated. Generally a project manager should be managing the work rather than completing the work. In my case I am both managing my department’s portion of the work while also acting as the main subject matter expert.  The article comments, “Most project managers tend to internalize issues and keep things like this to themselves. PMs are not immune from stress and the implications of being stressed.” [1]  I find it is easier to over allocate my own time than that of another resource, especially since the performance of the project rests on me.

Prevent Overload: Estimate Effort!

In the past, I found it difficult to adequately estimate the amount of time a project is going to take. While one task may not take long, when adding all of the other tasks that are going to be completed within the same week, your time suddenly disappears.  The article, Estimating the Work, has some tips on how to better plan the time it will take to complete project tasks.

The first tip is to estimate the amount of time it’s going to take to do the task in effort hours rather than calendar days.  The author uses the example of a twenty-hour task that could be completed in under three calendar days if that was the only task assigned to the resource.  However, it could take longer if you have to wait for information or stay home due to illness.

The second tip is around translating the task effort hours into calendar days.  He suggests tracking the time the SME can spend on the project on a daily basis and using that to translate the task into calendar days.  He advises, “Typically, the effective project time is only perhaps fifty to sixty percent of the nominal time team members spend at work, far less than the assumed one hundred percent effective time on which so many project schedules are planned.” [2]

How do you prevent resource overload?

How do you determine the time each task in your project will take?