In order to be an effective project manager (PM), we should look at our definition of project management. Definitions surprisingly vary greatly by organization and individual. We should be careful about calling something project management that really is not. Doing so often confuses the profession. Call it what it is. If a position is more administrative, add this label. If a position is more holistic with overall responsibility and leadership for the success of the project, I’d be more inclined to call it project management. Well defined roles are not only essential for the organization and individual, but for the profession at large.

If someone is used to providing project leadership and overall project responsibility under a PM title, certain expectations are set. If the next opportunity doesn’t provide the same opportunities and expectations both the organization and individual may experience issues. Likewise if someone is in a lower level position where they simply schedule meetings and follow-up on action items, this individual may develop an inappropriate perception of project management. Remember, a true PM is responsible for all aspects of the project, including management of scope, time, cost, quality, procurement, human resources, communication, risk management, stakeholder management, and integration. I’d even take this list a step further and involve the PM in scope discussions during business development. It’s never too early to involve the person responsible for high stakes efforts.

Other pet peeves of mine are a lack of analysis and a lack of communication skills. Project management isn’t about producing reports or documents, but managing to ensure project success. Project data is necessary to ensure success, but without analysis and interpretation it is strictly administrative data. I’m also often amazed at the lack of communication in project management. Strong PMs spend eighty to ninety percent of their time communicating. This doesn’t mean just forwarding emails, but providing impact analysis and recommendations. And my final pet peeve (for this posting!) centers on improperly handling situations by escalating all items or informing all parties of all developments. This goes along with communication. Determine your stakeholders and how you will interact with those stakeholders. It may be easier to copy everyone involved, but it’s not about what is easy.