Author: John Reiling
Professional Project Management is becoming more pervasive. Like "electrification" occurred during the era of proliferation of electricity, "projectization" is occurring throughout the workforce and organizations. Most of the emphasis I have seen is on professional project management. However, most people will not be professional project managers, but rather will be team members, support personnel, subject matter experts, department managers, C-level executives, and the like. This article explores what is being said about this broader workforce in a projectized world.
The essential question is, "What knowledge level about project management do non-project managers need to have in order to function effectively on professionally managed projects?" One parallel situation over the past 25 years has been the proliferation of computers. Virtually everyone in the work force has needed to acquire at least a user-level knowledge of computers and a variety of software packages. This has included understanding the basics of Windows and MS Office, competence in using the internet, and the ability to use a variety of applications. Similarly, a basic level of knowledge is required to function effectively in a projectized world. Here are 5 key areas of focus for non-project managers to be effective in the world of projects:
1. A project has a beginning and an end, with smaller beginnings and ends in between. - Understanding the anatomy of a project can help to distinguish between other things that actually are not projects, but may be termed such. This will put a non-project manager onto the same page conceptually as a professional project manager.
2. Understand the difference between the plan for a product and the plan for a project. - This is one of the most common misconceptions. This often occurs for those with deep technical abilities, which often makes workers more "product centric". They mistakenly think that a clear description of the product, whether written, in drawings, or some other representation is enough. The problem is that there are many issues and challenges surrounding that product that are in the realm of "project management", not "product management".
3. See that all projects need to be, at some level, an implementation related to the overall objectives of the organization. - Everyone in an organization should have a pretty good, albeit general, idea of where the organization is going. If that is not true, it may be a failing of upper management as often as an employee or associate. What is important here is that, given the assumption that the individual understands in general terms the overall objective, directives, and current initiatives of the organization, that they have the basic sense to ask and seek to understand how the project aligns with those objectives.
4. Recognize that projects are budgeted in terms of time, money, and resources, and that they need to achieve objectives within constraints on these resources. - This is a basic fact of life, and scarcity as a concept is one of the foundations of economics. A mature awareness of this fact should spawn a curiosity and awareness that there are constraints on all projects, and should encourage questioning on the part of any team member about the constraints on their given projects. Awareness of project constraints on the part of team members is a healthy development for any project manager.
Competence in understanding and incorporating the above into day-to-day activities can bring project skill "ownership" to non-project managers such that they are very effective on most projects. In fact, they will likely be able to manage portions of projects or small projects on their own.
There are many other topics that can be of interest to everyone in the organization. In the process of becoming "projectized", an organization needs to continuously educate everyone in the organization. The indoctrination of everyone in the basic essentials of project management is part of that. The results will be more successful projects, smoother functioning teams, and alignment across the organization within the important function of managing projects.
About the Author
John Reiling, PMP, MBA is experienced Project Manager in a variety of industries. John's web site Project Management Training Online, provides 24x7 online training in "Project Management for non-Project Managers" for PDUs, as well as PMP, CAPM, and PgMP certification training and hundreds of courses for PDUs. John's Project Management blog is PMcrunch.com .