Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Best Project Manager for the Job

Having the right project manager (PM) is crucial to successful project delivery. But, what attributes does a great PM have? According to Hemant Kogekar, principal of Kogekar Consulting, here are findings from a CIO Executive Board Study on what differentiates a good PM from an average one.

Many organizations look for PM candidates who have a project management certification. But, the study found that certification does not predict PM effectiveness. Turns out that PMs with diverse experience across technology and business areas are more effective.

Knowledge of the Business
Effective PMs understand not only ‘how’ but also ‘why’. They know the goals of their projects and how the goals fit within the organization. High performing PMs become ‘business partners’ and not just ‘order-takers’. Business partners improve their credibility due to their understanding of project scenarios. Effective PMs develop relationships across the organization so that they understand dynamics within the organization – enabling PMs to steer through complex issues.  

Leadership Ability
The importance of leadership skills is often underestimated when businesses select PMs. Effective PMs understand what the team needs and tailor their communications to drive performance. These PMs leverage team members’ skills, and gain the team’s trust. Poor PMs run the team into the ground while the project is delivered. Although PMs with a poor track record of  leadership may achieve short-term gains, these PMs constrain the success of the project. Good PMs not only deliver the project outcomes, but build a team’s capabilities throughout the project.

According to the study, two of the top three drivers of PM effectiveness are “passion to succeed”, and an “ability to meet internal deadlines”. When selecting PMs, leaders should seek candidates who demonstrate these attributes. Good PMs become demonstrate passion in the project and holding themselves accountable for the project’s success. Effective PMs follow the standard processes, but look to improve these processes to remove bottlenecks, time consuming steps and other inefficiencies.

Risk Management
Effective PMs are skilled in anticipating the risks throughout the project life-cycle. These PMs not only identify risks, but also develop strategies to avoid them. The study found that there was a big difference in the ability to anticipate and manage risks between the top and bottom performers.

Crisis Management  
Projects are stressful; a smoothly running project is a rarity. Good PMs maintain their cool in times of crisis. They maintain composure and guide their teams through the myriad of crises and challenges that projects encounter.

Quick Problem Solving
The best PMs are experts at solving the problems that a project encounters. These PMs deal with insufficient information and are quick learners who draw lessons from unfamiliar situations and concepts.

Good PMs are success-driven. Organizations need to recognize this and create pathways for PMs to progress to senior roles. If organizations fail to look after good PMs, they will find and opportunities elsewhere.

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