Quick Tips About the Profession of Project Management

Some basics of project management (in a quick sentence or two):

1. Project managers with experience and credentials are generally better than project managers with experience only, and definitely better than project managers with credentials and no experience. (EDIT: please note the use of the word “generally”. This is to appease all the credential sceptics posting their story about they succeeded without credentails (congratulations btw), or how they met someone with credentials who was terrible (statistically probable in any professional population), or how they heard about someone buying a credential (again, statistically probable). I get it, you’re a sceptic based on your experience and wildly generalising to an entire population of credential holders. Doesn’t change the fact that GENERALLY speaking, credentials + experience > experience alone; and experience alone > just a credential without experience.

2. The profession of project management needs to be regulated and become a legitimate profession with legal definitions of who can call themselves a project manager (like every other profession). Which country will be first?

3. You need some sort of PMO (call it a EPMO, PSO, PDO, IMO, VDO or anything else you want) that provides the appropriate level of support for portfolio, programme, and project management in your organisation. Something that suits your maturity and future aspirations.

4. If you don’t take time to measure whether expected outcomes or benefits were achieved you are giving people permission to write whatever they want in business cases.

5. The best methodology for your projects is probably not an “off the shelf” one, but one that reflects your culture, complexity, duration, maturity, size, and industry. In fact, it’s probably not a single methodology but several, each with mandatory and optional components.

6. The heart of agile is an empowered high performing team choosing the best way to continuously deliver value.

7. Change in projects is constant. Learn to expect it and welcome it (and document it).

8. Not everyone is suited to being a project manager, just like not everyone is suited to being a lawyer or a musician.

9. If you aren’t collecting, storing, AND making people prove they have read and applied lessons learned from past projects don’t bother with it at all. The magic is in the learning (here’s a tip: include a section in your initiation/approval documents that asks “what have you learned from similar projects and how will you apply it to this project?”)

10. The skills and attributes that make you a great engineer (software, hardware, civil, structural etc) won’t make you a great project manager – in fact it’s usually the opposite.

11. The greatest single predictor of project success is not your tools, templates, or processes; it is the competency of the project manager leading the project. Always invest in competency development first!

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