The Dual-Personality PM

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting Inc., an Ontario, Canada-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

A little while ago, someone asked me whether I could give them any tips on how to manage a project where they were also responsible for some of the project deliverables. I immediately fell back on my stock answer that project management was an important part of the project, that it required distinct skills and that PMs needed to focus on those elements--not take responsibility for delivering parts of the WBS as well.

The PM’s reply was that they agreed, but that the company had been through significant downsizing and that if they didn’t assume some PM responsibility, then no one would do it. Their choice was either deliverable owner and PM--or just deliverable owner with no PM. This is not an ideal arrangement and clearly qualifies as an “alternate” approach to project management, but I suspect that in the current economy it is more common than we might like to think.

Realistic planning
This is not a situation that every project manager will be able to make work, and even the most flexible PM will need to exercise exceptional discipline to avoid sacrificing one role for the other. The first thing that you need to do is establish how much effort you can commit to one task over the other. It’s not realistic to plan to spend 100 percent of your time on project deliverables and still complete project management activities. In this …

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