Project Management

Red, Yellow, Green: Lessons for the Project Manager

Houston Chapter +1

Robert Barger, MBA, PMP, is the author of Sam The Cat: A Guide for Memorizing the 42 Sub-Processes Using Mnemonics and Memory Stepping Stones, a manuscript utilized by the PMI Central Ohio Chapter to assist students in preparing for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification examination, as well as Red, Yellow, Green, How to Fix a Broken Project and Lessons for the Project Manager from French and Raven’s Bases of Power. Mr. Barger has been in the project management field since 2003 and has worked in a wide variety of industries and settings. Mr. Barger is currently working as a principal consultant for a technology solutions consulting firm in Central Ohio.

Many organizations use a RED, YELLOW, GREEN rating system to provide senior management with an easy-to-read assessment on the status of a large number of projects quickly. Green is the status given to a project that is running within budget, timeline, or expectation. Yellow is the status given when some aspect of the project is at risk or deserves special attention. Red is the status given when some aspect of the project has fallen dramatically behind, has encountered a major setback, is over budget, or is outside the expected parameters.

Left to run themselves, projects don’t get very far. Assigning a dedicated project manager helps increase the likelihood of a successful project. Notice how I don’t say that assigning a project manager guarantees success. No, we can’t fix everything, but we can be on the scene, attentive, and aware when things do take a turn for the worse. The simple fact is, projects go red. If they didn’t, the organization would not need you around. So in this respect, you have, essentially two jobs.

Why Am I Here?
As it relates to the overall health of the project, you have two jobs. You are both the security guard assigned to help protect and maintain the healthy status of the project, as well the medic, who is close at…

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"O, it is excellent To have a giant's strength! But it is tyrannous To use it like a giant."

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