PMs are creators, in whose gift is the magic of project and programme management. It’s not just some dry art or befuddling science. I can’t guarantee you put 2 and 3 and get 5 but done well, I guarantee you get something that is far greater, far superior to the sum of its parts. Dare I say, like a great cake! Project managers get to create something that lives beyond and without them, It impacts people’s lives, hopefully positively, it changes the trajectory of the function or the organisation where the change was embedded and to my mind, it’s exciting real-life alchemy!
Project and Programme Management is an exercise in defining the necessary and desirable, applying some unrealistic timelines and finding a pragmatic middle, identifying the possibilities in the quality variable and resourcing big ambitious plans out of thin air and shoestring comparative to what needs to be achieved. Good PMs will set you straight but attaining the PM requirements, meeting the business case and delivering the requested benefits even with generous budgets, still calls for an element of magic in project and programme management. PMs take somebody else’s dreams and visions and work every day to make it a reality. They are firefighters, counsellors, accountants and have to be a jack of all trades that become short term experts in at least one facet of lots of different workstreams. They are the ultimate believers in what can be, what must be and their part in making things happen.
Do you need a professional Project or Program Manager?
It is easy and indeed common to wonder if formal and professional Project Management is necessary unless leaders have had experience elsewhere of just how hard it is to run a project or a program with people whose day jobs has been something quite different. They wonder if somebody can’t just read a few books, maybe even do an online course and pop into the role! It’s a cheap option, so you can understand the motivation, but it would be manifestly the wrong way to go. There is undoubtedly magic created by project management but it is born of a blend of skill, experience and networks. That’s what companies bug and small around the world pay the premium for and it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish to attempt any other way. The cost of re-dos is far higher. The magic is harder to come by without the harbingers – skilled project managers.
So let’s try to distil the full magic of project management and the untold advantages practitioners bring.
At a high level, there’s strategic as well as tactical glories, team building, leadership and the management of conflicting requirements as well as the goals more clearly understood around the management of budget, scope, time and quality deliverables.
To decompose that further, let’s start with
- the function, mindset and perspectives that project management puts in place; PMs are the original Big Data practitioners because of the sheer volume and variety of tasks they juggle to firefight, problem solve, create solutions, form natural alliance bubbles and resolve conflict. They literally perform a myriad of functions and this takes getting used to to be good at it. It is extremely demanding.
- Project Management provides the kind of servant and leadership dichotomy you observe in parents one their children are of a certain age: they have to lead and guide as well as listen, learn and follow to be fully effective. They do this with users, experts and leaders. This means they have to flexible and hold their positions lightly while still holding tightly to a vision of change that has been entrusted to them. This means they must have high levels of confidence and real humility.
- The motivation your business needs to attempt, agree and adopt change comes from project management. This is inescapable for success, and PMs other claim to fame and magic in project and program management is that they motivate and mobilise people to generate and deploy ideas for a range of issues and obstacles that arise.
- All projects are racked with problems and questions because there are several unknowns in a project, no matter how well planned it is. This does not faze seasoned change professionals and they expect this but the necessity to solve problems to deliver change leads to the creation of stunning solutions and research of best practices, tools and frameworks that can be adopted. These can extend beyond the life of the project and become part of the business’ continuous improvements.
- Although sometimes, especially in wholesale transformations, problems can take on calamitous proportions, project management can drive creative solutions that can solve problems in extensible and enduring ways.
- The magic doesn’t come without structure, rigour and process and PMs don’t come without those.
- Innovation, innovation, innovation as change creators, project and program managers can be agents of innovation in an organisation.
- Project management brings people together and resolves conflicts. PMs bring together cross-functional teams., experts and analysts – assembling the advances of change.
- They know, understand and can apply the methodologies that your project needs.
- Neutralising previously toxic environments and relationships.
- Leave a mark, leave a legacy of change and how a change organisation can be built and a culture of continuous improvement