I ____ Project Manager (add your own words in the space)

So, have you added your words? depending on which position you are in, it can be any of the following:

1) I want to be a PM (very common when interviewing people)
2) I am a PM
3) I was a PM

So what makes someone want to be a PM? in my view, everyone wants to be directing others and not do the actual work. They are happy with attending meetings, taking minutes (provided they actually do that), coordinating meetings and on occasion do the presentation on the schedules and issues encountered, and they will be complaining to their team that being a PM is not easy as it is very time consuming because they have to coordinate meetings, attend meetings and the single phrase that irks (at least for me) “I have to take the bullet for the team”.

One thing I find most telling on whether the PM to be or claimed PM has the skills or knowledge is when it comes to scheduling, if the PM lacks the knowledge, they tend to over estimate the schedule and that might mean they will just add 5% (or whatever they fancy) to whatever schedule the team-mate came out with and when asked why 5% and not 10% since they are already buffing, they might say its a “gut feeling”.

Based on PMP definition:

”Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. The Project Manager is the person responsible for accomplishing the project objectives.”(PMBOK® Guide, Third Ed., 2004, Section 1.3)

If everyone is to just accomplish the above points stated in paragraph 1, does that make them out to be a PM? Do they actually have the knowledge or skills necessary to meet the project requirements? and this is especially so if the project is a technical project.

In my view, to be a PM is more then doing what was stated above, it requires the unseen skills like:

– knowledge in the area of work (and I am not talking about coordinating or writing minutes), if its IT project, knowledge in the IT area
– necessary certification (PMP, CSITPM)
– leadership skills
– management skills

So if you want to be a PM (point 1) ensure that you actually have the necessary background or skills first before you actually become a PM. What can be worse then facing backlash from your own team members who knows that you know nothing beyond arranging for meetings and coordinating meetings! What’s more, without the background knowledge in the area of the project, you might be taken for a ride by the vendor. Most good PMs will have some knowledge in the area of the project, example if its a technical project then technical knowledge in that area.

If you are a PM (point 2), great! but have you ask yourself, are you actually able to inspire your team during difficult times (leadership skills), manage the schedule and risks as well as distribute the tasks accordingly (management skills) and have the necessary knowledge for the project (domain knowledge). Of course, it can be difficult to be up to date with the latest technical skills BUT that is no excuse to not try and keep up to date, believe me, your team will be impressed when you can actually rolled up your sleeves and help them in their coding. And you will probably not be taken for a ride by the vendor or your developers. So far in most projects I have been on, the customers will rather be talking to the technical PM (if the company actually have separate roles) then the general PM as they realised that they do not get any answers from the general PM since the general PM have to go back to the technical person to get the information.

If you were a PM (point 3), its either you went up next level (project director perhaps?) OR you decided that being a PM is not to your liking, either way, you have gone through the thick and thin of being a PM.

The above are just my own views. Do leave a comments if you have something to share.

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