Sunday, August 17, 2008

August 18, 2008 - Stand up and act like a... PM?

For the past few weekends I have been pulling together training material to cover Project Initiation, Tracking and Reporting for HP’s Project and Program Management tool (PPM). Not the most inventive of names but it seems to be a fairly robust system that integrates Financial and Project Management at the corporate level with add-ins for QA and other project pieces.

For that reason all of my creativity has been sapped and I have been unable to blog. However, during last week’s PMI Orange County dinner meeting we had an interesting speaker. Listening to Lee R. Lambert, PMP ( was like getting a slap in the face to wake you up.

He began by asking how many people had the job title “Project Manager” and then gave us the stunning news that we weren’t. By PMI’s definition a project manager has the right and responsibility to make decisions. Very few of us actually make decisions. We supply timely information, analysis and recommendations for people that do. By PMI’s definition that makes us Project Coordinators or Project Expeditors.

Our responsibility then is to present clear truth, backed by evidence with solid analysis and delivered in a timely manner. Over the next couple of weeks I plan to revisit the basics of how to obtain that information. Far too often we fall under the hypnosis of management’s instructions to add scope, reduce costs and get it done sooner with fewer resources.

We say “oh, well” and back down with half hearted pleas for sanity to reign…but it doesn’t. Then we complain the entire life of the project, pushing the team beyond their limits and try to deliver something...anything…that resembles what was required impossibly soon.

As professional project managers we need the ability to say “Yes, we can do that and here is what it will take.” Then present a solid estimate, realistic timeline and honest cost for what they asked. State the case and let them make the decision.

So, tune in next time and we will get started.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Thomas,

Sounds like what is demanded here is courage - and specifically the courage to tell a truth that is not always easily heard.