PRINCE2 Project Management Skills For Business
Ever look at how projects are managed? Just think about the larger scheme issues – is anyone helping plan them? What’s their level of involvement? Where is the project manager in the overall picture? There are firms that draft plans for various organizations and offer a number of services, but usually, when you ask, they don’t know the whole picture and are only interested in the bottom line, which often decisions are made on a part-time basis (rather than professional project management). Have you ever sat by and wondered where the people who do the work are? Most people are focused on their job; occasionally they have a ‘to do’ list in front of them and at other times they have not even started work on theirs yet. Yet, those who don’t spend any time planning the big picture end up as ‘just in the job’ and spend their days’ roller-coaster through false starts and bad information. As on a PRINCE2 project management training qualification.
Projects are more complex than a simple ‘where to start’ list, are they not? Yes – they are and the systematic, orderly structure of the limited number of projects managed by a common bureaucratic machine is almost depressing. So, how can we better handle tactics and choices within the new realities? The best analogy is that for any type of project management, there are some commonalities; having experienced several yourself, you would recognize 4 basic skills in a PM. Project management is not rocket science, but the skill set still varies in relevance for the projects we run:
1. The PM needs to understand the organization. Know where the people, policy, culture, structure, projects, procurement, etc. are. Or they know how to access those things in order to decide where to go next.
2. The PM needs to know their subject extremely well. Unfortunately, many are competent but possess very little knowledge – even on their own projects. The better the PM knows the subject, the more they concentrate on the project and
3. The PM needs to understand the art and practice of project review, evaluation, and planning. I’ve seen the frighteningly low success rate of a PM on a project by simply reading the review. Many always feel powerless on a project – after all, they are the boss. The fact is, though, that they are usually the only person on the project. At all taxing times, the dependency on the PM/project manager is extremely high, but the PM has most likely got the lack of planning, backup, and support ‘right’. Project direction and progress is a sterile process without good review and control.
4. The PM needs to know how to understand a project in terms of what the agenda must achieve. When, where, how much control & attention can a PM handle? The more elusive ‘deliverables’ become the more directed a PM is. If even the smallest ‘problem’ is left unchecked, in 99% of cases, it will just swap businesses. By identifying ‘interesting’ issues, demands, and priorities, the PM not only knows what to do most effectively, they know what to say ‘no’. A ‘no’ to an issue is the ‘key’ to breaking the control cycle.
But that’s just the beginning of the discipline of project management. Project managers need to understand that there is not just one aspect of the project: their own work, that they are core to; but, they also need to understand that their business clients expect them to be generalists and project managers are not. The team members need to feel comfortable communicating and working alongside their PM – it just doesn’t work out if they do not feel they can reach anyone. The PM also needs to understand that the project managers are in tune with the issues and more equipped to make deals and firm decisions. Yet, one of the biggest problems is that a PM really doesn’t have a say in the project itself. The PM must be the generalist. They need to understand the project work, their business clients, the business environment, and the internal agenda of the companies.
The PM also needs to get involved with the project by contributing to it, rather than merely ‘doing their bit’. The PM needs to understand ‘the big picture’, both in terms of results and in terms of business life cycles, and understand that it is worth the effort to see a project through from start to finish. As the project progresses, the PM’s responsibility is to implement a successful backup plan. Good project management is about having the tools and getting the right execution on the agenda to define, plan and communicate.