Tuesday, 25 October 2016

What Is Your Best Advice To Be A Good Project Manager?

Recently I received an email from Rogerio Manso. He's involved in IT project management and also teaches others on the topic. Rogerio's contacting other subject matter experts around the globe because he's putting together a collection of advice that he'll offer for free to his project management students and anyone seeking to learn from others. In order to do this, he's asked a question. It might seem a fairly straightforward question but when you sit down to think about it, there are many possible responses that make it challenging to fix on just one thing.

The question?

What is your best advice to be a good Project Manager?

After some thought and to'ing and fro'ing with various bits of the project manager and management puzzle, I decided my advice is actually not about 'doing' project management. Why not? Well, because a good project manager already does good project management; they are fluent in project management fundamentals and consistent in the quality of their application. To be a really good (OK let's call them 'great'!) project manager however, means going beyond project management to drive and deliver value for the business. Diane Dromgold touches on this in her post on the same question.

Here then, is my response to Rogerio's thought provoking and not-so-simple question:

Put the business at the centre of the project.

A project is purely a mechanism through which business value can be delivered. Project Managers must understand why the project is important to the business by finding out where it connects with business plans and the organisations strategy and strategic drivers. While a project manager can manage and complete projects without this knowledge, having it will:
  • Provide a central point of focus;
  • Bring clarity to the desired outcomes and ROI;
  • Add greater meaning to the work activities;
  • Shift and bring greater depth to the types of discussions being had;
  • Bring sense to solutions, adjustments and decisions that will need to be made as the project progresses.
Finding out this information takes more than reading the business case or having an introductory chat with the business owner and stakeholders. Project Managers must build relationships and get to know the business because they have high expectations that shift and morph as the project develops. Most importantly the value the project's delivering must line up with the reason they started this project in the first place. With the business at the centre of the project, the project manager will quickly realise if that alignment is off and can start entirely different conversations.

Think about, talk about, and figure out the organisations need of the project. Great project managers share this with the team to bring perspective and context to the work being done. Everyone has a job to do and when people understand where and how their piece fits in to the whole it can change attitudes, behaviours, and the level and quality of contribution.

So Rogerio, that's my advice. A bit more descriptive than a single paragraph but hopefully one that's beneficial to you, your students, and anyone else accessing your publication. There's plenty more around this topic here on this Blog, in my digital publications, and in another joint interview with Alexia Nalewaik for Knowledge Train.

And, thanks for asking!

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