Project Management

The Most Important Question New PMs Need To Ask

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-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 [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Sometimes the questions I get asked by new project managers make me smile. They’re questions that take me back to my early days of managing projects when the most trivial thing seemed to carry the weight of the world with it, and when I genuinely lost sleep trying to figure out what to do.

The same issue today wouldn’t faze me in the least, because I have the experience to know that it’s inconsequential in the larger picture. But if you don’t have that experience, how do you determine whether something is really an issue?

Examples of the sort of thing I’m referring to are concerns that a resource owner has assigned a low-performing individual to the team, or that the critical path runs a couple of days past the deadline. Perhaps it’s a worry that a team member is going on vacation for two weeks and there’s no one to backfill the role, or maybe a couple of team members are late providing updates for the status report every week.

Are these issues? Well, technically…yes, they are. They can’t be ignored by a PM or there is the potential for them to get worse. But in the larger picture of what could go wrong on a project, they’re all pretty minor.

But to new project managers, experiencing these issues for the first time—and conscious that they are being watched to see how they perform on their first few …

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"There is more to life than increasing its speed."

- Mahatma Gandhi