Project Manager’s competencies

A project is successful, if…

  • It is completed on time
  • Completed within budget
  • Met the scope
  • Achieved the business goal (value) of the project

The project manager is ultimately accountable for the success and failure of the project. Hence, selecting the right project manager becomes very important for the project’s success.

Who is the right project manager?

PMI, talent triangle

The PMI, talent triangle for the project manager was first mentioned in PMBOK#6. It states that the project manager should have good knowledge about;

  • Technical project management (globally accepted project management best practices)
  • Should have good understanding of business strategy and management
  • Must demonstrate leadership skills

The PMBOK#7 extends this further by adding principles and values to the PMI talent triangle.

Here is the list;

  1. The one who operates based on the professional project management values
  2. Deep rooted in the professional project management principles
  3. Who has good in depth understanding of various project management approaches like Predictive, Agile & Hybrid
  4. Must have in depth understanding of the project performance domains
  5. Must have good knowledge about the models, methods and artifacts

Values

  • Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Fairness
  • Honesty

Principles

  • Caring steward
  • Nurturer of collaboration
  • Effective stakeholder engagement
  • Value focus
  • Systems thinking
  • Leadership qualities
  • Tailoring capability
  • Proactive quality management
  • Ability to navigate through complexity
  • Effective risk management
  • Highly adaptable and resilient
  • Open to change to achieve goals

Performance Domains

  • Stakeholders
  • Team
  • Development approach and life cycle
  • Planning
  • Project work
  • Delivery
  • Measurement
  • Uncertainty

Models

  • Situational Leadership II
  • OSCAR
  • Communication models
  • Motivation models
  • Change models
  • Complexity models
  • Project team development models
  • Conflict model
  • Negotiation
  • Planning
  • Process groups
  • Salience model

Methods

  • Data gathering & Analysis
  • Estimating
  • Meetings & Events
  • Other methods

Artifacts

  • Strategy artifacts
  • Logs and registers
  • Plans
  • Hierarchy charts
  • Baselines
  • Visual data and information
  • Reports
  • Agreements & Contracts
  • Other artifacts

References

Project Management Body Of Knowledge Version 6 and Version 7

Key Stakeholder Identification

Before discussing about stakeholder identification, let us understand the term stakeholders.

Anyone who is affected positively or negatively, by doing a project, or by delaying a project is a stakeholder. In other words, anyone who has a stake in the project is a stakeholder. Here is a sample list of project stakeholders;

  • Sponsor
  • Project Manager
  • Project management team
  • Project team
  • Contractors
  • Sub-contractors
  • Suppliers
  • Consultants
  • Government agencies
  • End users of the product of the project
  • Environmentalists
  • Local politicians
  • Competitors
  • Statutory bodies etc ..

Identifying and managing the expectations of the stakeholders from the project is key to the success of the project. Hence stakeholder identification and management starts during the very early stages of the project and continues till the end of the project.

After identifying the stakeholders, they are classified into;

  • High power – High interest
  • High power – Low interest
  • Low power – High interest
  • Low power – Low interest

Based on these classifications, strategies are developed to manage the stakeholders. For example, the high power – high interest category of stakeholders must get a weekly update of the project. The high power – low interest category must get a monthly update. The low power – high interest category must get a quarterly update.

Introduction to Predictive Project Management – PPM

Predictive project management (PPM) strives for clarity and predictability from the start of the project till the end of the project. Predictive project management was the only project management approach till the agile and hybrid approaches got popular.

Predictive Project Management Workflow

In predictive project management, the project progresses in phases like;

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Monitoring & Controlling
  • Closing

The key actors in predictive project management are;

  • Sponsor (Owner)
  • Project Manager
  • The Project management team
  • Project team

The sponsor drives the initiation phase of the project. During project initiation;

  • The business case of the project is validated and approved
  • High level scope is documented
  • High level risks are identified
  • Major constraints and assumptions are identified
  • Project’s management approach is decided
  • Key milestones are defined
  • Major stakeholders are identified
  • Most importantly, a project manager is officially appointed

All these are documented in the form of a Project Charter and Stakeholder register. The project charter is approved by the sponsor and released. Formal initiation of the project and the charter approval provides a good start to the project. After the formal initiation of the project, the project manager drives the project into the planning phase.

Planning

During planning the project manager along with the project management team develops the project plan which addresses;

  • Project integration management
  • Scope management
  • Cost Management
  • Schedule management
  • Resource management
  • Risk management
  • Quality management
  • Communications management
  • Procurement management
  • Stakeholder management

Execution

During the project execution phase, the project is executed as per the plan.

Monitoring & Controlling

From the beginning of the project, till the end of the project, the project is monitored and controlled.

Closing

Formal closing happens at the end of every phase of the project, which include the end of the project as well

That explains the natural flow of a project following predictive project management.

Choosing the right project management approach

Projects are unique in nature. Hence there is no one single management approach which will suit all projects. The project management approach should be carefully chosen. There are three types of project management approaches;

  • Predictive (Waterfall)
  • Agile (Adaptive)
  • Hybrid (Combination of agile and predictive)

Predictive (Waterfall)

For projects where the scope of work is very clear, and the frequency of releases of the product to the customer is low, then predictive project management fits in. Predictive project management comprises of well defined phases which are executed sequentially. For example;

  • Requirements collection
  • High level design
  • Detailed design
  • Construction
  • Testing

Between these phases, there will be a formal approval. One approved, the work gets transferred to the next team. For example, once the requirements are approved, the approved requirements are transferred to the design team. When the design is approved, it gets transferred to the construction team and so on.

Predictive desirable when;

  • Scope is clear
  • Technology is familiar
  • The engineering discipline of the project does not allow for frequent changes

For example, during the construction phase of the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) projects, it is very difficult and expensive to incorporate changes. Hence predictive project management works.

Agile (Adaptive)

Then there are projects or phases within projects where requirements are vague (not clear), the technology is unfamiliar and the project domain allows easy incorporation of changes. In such projects agile or adaptive styles is better. In new product development, it is very difficult to identify all requirements in the beginning of the projects.

For example, if the project is about developing an engine for spacecrafts, one can expect lot of changes during the course of the project. So is the case with developing a company web site. Agile approaches are well suited for projects of this genre.

In agile projects encourages changes even very late in the project. The central theme of all agile projects is the iteration, which are 30 days (or lesser) buckets of work. Before the start of every iteration, the team gets into a detailed iteration planning meeting. Then the work is executed by the self organizing project team. At the end of the iteration, there is an iteration review followed by iteration retrospective.

Hybrid

For some projects, some phases are best suited for agile, where as some other phases are best suited for predictive. For example, for a project like the tallest tower in the world, or a metro rail, the engineering and design phases are well suited for agile, where as the construction phases are best managed with predictive. Very often, even within the construction phase teams adopt agile best practices like daily team meetings, fortnightly or monthly look ahead plans etc. These are best examples of hybrid project management.

Programs

Sometimes it is beneficial if projects are grouped as programs and brought under program management than managing them as independent projects.

Conclusion

The right project management approach and the project manager is key to project’s success. In other words, a wrong approach or a wrong project manager can kill the right projects. Hence, it will be a good investment of time, if the owners, consultants and the project management teams spend sufficient time in deciding the project’s management approach.