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Project Manager

Key Question: Does the project manager have the appropriate experience for your project's scope and size?

"With all the project management tasks that must be executed well, it's easy to see why the project manager plays the key role in the success or failure of a project. Still, project managers are often assigned to projects in a haphazard way. In the best case, the project manager should be experienced in managing projects of similar size and scope. If that is not possible, it is extremely important to understand where the deficiencies may lie and prepare a support environment for that project manager to access in times of doubt or trouble."

"For example, good technicians are often promoted to project management because they did a good job as a programmer, business analyst, architect, and so on. However, this doesn't always work out because the project management job and the technical job require different sets of competencies. It's like the difference between being the conductor and playing the violin. Good technicians know how to manage their tasks. A good project manager, however, must know how to manage the tasks of other people. Also, the project manager must be more empathetic to people than an individual contributor."

"Another example of inappropriate staffing is having a project manager who has only managed a five-person project now manage a twenty five, fifty, or one hundred-person project. Different skills and competencies are needed to manage small, medium, and large projects. The key competency is in the project manager's communication skills. With larger groups, the project manager needs more team meetings and good status reporting. To manage larger projects, the project manager must have more of a rigid structure in place in order to accurately provide a fact-based answer to the ever-present, 'Where is the project?' question from the project sponsor. Also, with larger groups, the project manager must be able to motivate managers instead of individuals and be a manager of managers, which requires yet a different competency. All of these factors must be considered when selecting a project manager in order to prevent the project from failing because of an inexperienced leader."

The above is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.