Master Plan An article entitled “Master Plan: IT executives must develop an eye for project mangers” appears in the April 2007 issue of PM Network. I would like to comment. This article is based largely on a Gartner Inc. study in Stamford CT, USA. A sad statistic that is true was that between 20-30% of IT executives have a “dismissive attitude” toward project management. These are the same executives who suffer from “poor quality, late delivery, and unrealistic project costs.” This is something I know from personal experience. I would venture to guess that the attitude towards project management decreases when you reach higher-ranking executives in operational areas. Most IT executives have realized that well-run projects, managed by people who have the right skills, can deliver real value. If I had to guess at a percentage of operational executives, I would say around 40-50% have a dismissive attitude toward formal project management. However, this number seems to be declining. The majority of directors and higher-ranking people still don’t see the value in formal project management. I see the shift towards project management adding value as a positive reinforcement to my decision to enter this discipline. But I digress. Referring back to the article in PM Network. I found some points that were insightful and worth sharing. First, Gartner has divided IT project managers into four categories.
Novice – Some project experience, lacks formal training
Apprentice – Has some project experience and shows initiative towards managing projects.
Journeyman – Minimum 2 years experience in project management, formal training in scope, risk management, advanced scheduling, and best practices.
Master – 5+ Years of experience successfully managing projects, often PMP or another certification.
Only 15-20% of project managers belong to the Master group. I would classify myself as either a high apprentice or barely a journeyman. Although I have had some formal training, I have managed projects for many years without any knowledge of project management. The categories are a little vague. I have met project managers who, according to the above definition, would fall into the Master category but don’t display what I would call Mastery skills in managing project projects. The last box of the article focuses on five characteristics that I believe are more accurate.
Diplomacy – Ability to manage business relationships effectively
Strategic Vision – Ability to see the whole picture and eliminate “silo paradigms”.
Policy Responsibility – Improve the process and question existing policy constraints
Risk Management – Advanced risk management goes beyond a checklist of risk management plans
I would like to add some to this list.
Effective Planning – See my previous post about Alpha Project Managers and how they spend twice the time planning than non-alphas.
Superior Communication – Another reference to Alpha PM’s. This goes with diplomacy, collaboration, but everyone knows that successful project management is largely dependent on excellent communication.
Decisiveness – The ability to quickly make difficult decisions and stick to your guns
Conciseness is the ability to speak clearly and act. I have seen junior project managers who use jargon in meetings to impress those not familiar with the discipline. The best Masters I have ever worked with are clear-cut, speak at the level of the client, and get straight to the point.