What makes managing projects such a complex and challenging job? Projects can vary substantially in how difficult they are to successfully deliver, hence, the importance of the Project Manager understanding the organisation, the stakeholders, the time frame, the budget, the history and the outcomes required from the project.
Upon joining the project team, whether the project is at inception or already in progress, there are a number of things that Project Managers must do to set the groundwork for successful outcomes.
Firstly, they have to consult with the key stakeholders to best understand what outcomes are required from the project.
Secondly, the scope of the project needs to be agreed (including time frames, milestones, budget) as well as the most effective approach to achieve the desired outcomes. Project management methodologies such as Prince 2 will assist in setting the direction of what approach will be taken. Methodologies, however, are not strict procedures, they are simply there to facilitate the deliverables of the project.
Finally, it is important that Project Managers understand the environment and unwritten ground rules. This can take the form of policy and procedures that must be followed as well as the key stakeholders within and outside of the organisation. This can be particularly important within the government sector as many protocols differ from that of the private sector.
So what makes a project challenging for a Project Manager? Almost always, this will revolve around people, egos and agendas! Bringing team members together to form an effective team, gaining support and working with key stakeholders as well as dealing with processes and protocols. Therefore, it is imperative that Project Managers have excellent influencing, leadership, communication and negotiation skills as well as the ability to engage with people across all levels of the organisation.
Speaking to a Project Director recently, his most challenging project had revolved around coordinating the expectations of people at a variety of levels both externally and internally. Managing teams, stakeholders and multiple vendors is never easy task, but that is what separates the great Project Managers from the rest and a demonstrated track record in this respect is what organisations look for when recruiting.
So what makes a good Project Manager? Look out for next week’s edition when I discuss the attributes of great Project Managers and what allows them to deliver successful projects!