Eric Simms is a senior program manager for the U.S. Census Bureau. He regards projects like Sudoku puzzles and is proud of showing skeptical developers that project management, properly applied, could be a good friend.
Eric, how did you get into project management? I unknowingly entered the project management field in 1996 during my first real job after graduating college. I was a Quality Control Director, and it was only years later that I discovered many of the actions I performed in that role were considered "project management."
What do you love most about the work? I most enjoy the complexity surrounding project management, particularly the delicate balance required to meet stakeholder expectations while successfully executing the project. I regard a project rather like a Sudoku puzzle, but one with a practical, beneficial outcome.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating? As a consultant I often lack the authority to make high-level executives do what they should. As a result, my team and I usually need to perform extra work to fix the problems caused by the executives’ actions or lack thereof. I resent wasting time and energy in this manner, and I resent organizations that allow their executives to act like entitled divas in the first place.
What's your proudest professional achievement? As a contractor without formal authority I was able to transform a group of unorganized developers who viewed project management as useless bureaucracy into an effective projectized business unit. I accomplished this by showing the developers how project management — properly applied — can greatly enhance their productivity.
What's the best piece of advice you've received or can share? Don’t let anyone make you believe a project must be managed in one particular way. All project management methodologies and documentation are merely tools to help you successfully execute a project — how you use them is up to you. No two projects are exactly the same, and just because a method worked well for one doesn’t mean it will work well for yours. Also, best practices are good guidelines to follow, but they’re only guidelines. Feel free to amend them to suit your particular situation.
How has ProjectManagement.com helped you in your work and career? Every member sees project management from a different vantage, and I have learned much from their many different perspectives. Some of the questions asked and situations described are outside my experience, and I benefit greatly from considering how I would address them.
What interests or hobbies do you have outside work? I enjoy weightlifting, gardening, travel and entertaining in my home.
Favorite TV show, artist or movie? Game of Thrones is currently my favorite TV show, and Pablo Picasso’s Guernica is my favorite painting.
Best vacation? I visited Quebec’s old city with some friends. The snow fell gently that day, and it made for a quintessential Christmas village scene.
Thank you Eric!
To connect with Eric, visit his ProjectManagement.com profile.