Deciding to enter the field of Project management is one of the best decisions you may make to compete in today’s global market. Taking the extra step to becoming a Project Management Professional (PMP) makes that choice not only more profitable, but more accessible.
In 2017, the United States had over 6.7 million jobs in the field of project management, and of those, less than 400,000 have their PMP certificate. More and more employers are looking for certification to ensure that the people they hire possess the qualities they need to get the job done.
There are so many things that go into being a project manager. The phrase “a jack of all trades and a master of none” comes to mind, but with a project manager, it’s a master of many. An effective project manager, is
- a great communicator,
- an office manager,
- a problem solver,
- an accountant,
- a referee, and a
A PMP knows the tools that are necessary to initiate, plan, execute, monitor and control, and close a project. Organizations need an individual they can count on, no matter the size or scope of the project.
A good PMP has not only the ability to utilize technology, but also the wherewithal to know when they need to utilize a team member for their expertise. Everyone can’t know everything, but a PMP understands who knows what. Compiling and utilizing your team to take advantage of their unique skill sets, is as important as knowing how to find and use the right software to get through the project.
Every PMP possesses six qualities, and must be a master of each “trade”.
6 Qualities of a PMP
The PMBOK has taken you through the knowledge areas and processes necessary for you to work through any project that comes your way. Some industries will require different qualities. A construction project manager needs to know the difference between a residential electrician and a commercial electrician, while a project manager in the field of manufacturing may also need to know about electronics. Each industry comes with their own set of requirements, depending on the end product. From the initial build to marketing, funding and approvals, it’s key to know what the industry you are working in requires.
In general, every project manager should possess the qualities we have identified. Holding down a total of 6different roles no matter what industry you are in.
1 – The Great Communicator
From upper management to clients, from construction contractors to team members, a quality PMP has the ability to communicate, verbally and in writing, in a manner that suits whatever situation they are in.
Throughout the scope of the project effective communication will result in keeping all entities on track and the project on target.
When working with sponsors or government entities, 90% of your job as a PMP is to evaluate, discern, and communicate information and/or alternatives, in the most effective way to get the best response from your audience.
For example, in the case when you are awaiting approvals from a government entity, the ability to write a letter that is professional but relates the urgency of your need without being demanding is essential.
The above example can also lead you to delegate this responsibility to someone who is better at writing the letter, again, effectively providing that team member with the information that needs to be relayed and giving your final stamp of approval for their hard work to provide you with quality content.
Information must be clear, whether it’s presented in a team meeting, or documented in the Project Information Database (PID). The target audience must always be considered. Knowing when to change your tone, and how to manage your emotions when dealing with volatile situations is what makes a PMP.
A Project Manager knows how and when to haggle. Negotiation is a vital part of communication. In order to make sure that all parties involved are up to date and conflicts are resolved without laying blame, a quality PMP will work with all parties to come up with the best result for the project.
Understanding the needs and issues that the teams within the project face, the personality conflicts that may or do arise, and being able to work through them with good communication and negotiation skills is what a PMP is all about.
A PMP honestly addresses any situation, in a timely manner to ensure the success of the project. They recognize the variety of personalities represented within the project and communicate with each individual, sub group, and group with confidence, even through potentially negative situations.
2 – The Office Manager
From the time the project is initiated, the PMP in charge is in effect the office manager for the project. They are the go to person for all involved.
Scheduling, documenting, collating, filing, and organizing are key to project management. Even if you aren’t producing the documentation yourself, you are in charge of the final product.
Knowing what software will provide your project with the best tracking and having the ability to use it is extremely important. From presentations, to spreadsheets, you must be at the very least aware of the programs necessary to keep track of all aspects of the job.
Some industries require more technical information than others, but all industries rely on basic software to keep them competitive. Whether you use Microsoft Project, or another project management software, you should be well versed on how to navigate it.
Being a PMP requires you to renew your certification with professional development units. It’s never a bad idea to keep yourself up to date with the newest programs or the newest updates to the programs you have been using all along, and coursework can count to keep your PMP in good standing.
Organization of resources, whether it’s personnel, software, or equipment is all part of being an effective office manager. With good time management skills and a diverse skill set, you can keep the project on track.
3. Problem Solver
There are always going to be problems. Many can be assessed before the project even begins and a plan of action can be put in place. However, there are instances that have no advance notice, no explanation, no way to plan.
During the planning stage, you came up with a Risk Management Plan. The team may have brought up weather conditions, or there may be supply problems due to the current supply chain issues. These are items that you can anticipate and plan for in your budget and your schedule before you execute.
However, when a contractor has an anticipated strike, that causes work to be delayed, or the planning commission is continually blocking your approvals, you need to be able to jump into action and the problem solved.
You may need to adjust the schedule to get other tasks not connected to the contractor done so when they are able to continue, you are ahead of schedule in other areas. You may need to go into sales mode with the planning commissioner that is holding you back.
You will need to work with your team to find the best solution to what may seem to be an impossible situation. You have the tools and the grace to mitigate the risk.
Budget Management is a quality that can’t be ignored. From the initiation of the project, where the feasibility of cost is determined, throughout the project keeping an accurate accounting of the money is essential.
During the Initiation project, you will either create a project charter or a business case and a key element to both is determining what finances are required to complete the project, and if the end result is cost effective and profitable. Both will contain an outline for the budget of the project and if you continue on to complete a business case a complete financial analysis, with an anticipated return on investment (ROI) will provide the corporation with the information to determine whether the project can and should go forward.
During the planning stage, most of the work is done with the budget. Allocating resources, estimating costs per task and for the overall budget, setting milestones, and adding contingencies are all key to creating the initial budget. There are a variety of estimation techniques that can be used and while there may be one used throughout, there may also be parts of the project that are better estimated with another. Analogous Estimating, Parametric Estimating, Top-Down Estimating, Bottom-Up Estimating, and Three-point Estimating, are just some of the techniques that can be used to put the project budget together.
Execution of the project generally requires quite a bit of the budget. Putting aside money for payroll, vendors, purchasing or renting equipment, and generally providing all resources with their monetary needs.
Monitoring and controlling is where the milestones set in planning come in. Each point in the schedule where the project management team comes together to discuss progress, gives you the opportunity to check for schedule setbacks, ineffective personnel, project budget overruns, and gold-plating. Milestones are key to monitoring and keeping control of the project. During these meetings you can also discuss change orders and determine what can or should fit. If those change orders are from the client, you can find an accurate account of where the project is going and determine if they want to pay that extra cost for the different color or feature.
Finally, through closure, you realize that you have exceeded your expectations because you were a great accountant, keeping all aspects in the black, bringing them back from the red when necessary. Paying off all final bills and going to the pre-budgeted wrap party.
As the PMP in charge, you know all of the rules of the project. You have been there from the minute planning began, and you may have even had input into its inception. Regardless, you know the who, what, when, where, and how of the project.
So, when conflicts arise, whether it’s personal, equipment, or being a go-between with the client, you can make the right call.
Personnel conflicts can arise for a variety of reasons. A team member may not be holding their own, either through neglect or lack of knowledge. There may be personality conflicts that arise, no matter how hard you try to pick your team. Team leaders may not be effective, either riding their team too hard, or being lax in keeping them on task. Making the call is often a hard thing to do with the people you work with, but it is all part of being the Project Manager.
If resources are used throughout a variety of tasks and teams, conflicts may arise without proper resource management. Even though there is a plan in place, if a team is running overschedule for their particular task, and another team is waiting for the equipment, conflicts arise. It’s your job to work through those issues and solve the problem with the help of your project management team.
Sponsors, clients, upper management, may decide they want to call the shots. It’s your job to remind them of the risks, to the schedule, the budget, the end product. Going back to communication, you need to be able to communicate the needs of the project in a matter of fact way to achieve the results necessary.
It all boils down to being a good leader. Each of the qualities above:
- Good communication
- Office management
- Solving problems
- Managing a budget and
- Being a referee,
are all part of being a good leader. Leadership skills can be taught but also need to be embraced. As a quality PMP, you have the quality, skilled professionals that want to work with you. You are only as good as your team, and by showing that you are a good leader, those qualities will follow you from project to project.
Again, it starts the minute you are put in charge. You pull your team leaders, knowing that they will comprise their individual teams with the personnel to get the job done.
In order to do this you have to:
- ensuring that the team has the information about the goals, constraints, objectives, and scope of the project.
- assign tasks, taking into account the abilities and restraints so that tasks and resources aren’t duplicated or overlapped.
- provide assignments that give your team members the challenges they need to feel they are accomplishing something worthwhile.
- keeping your team motivated.
- providing a plan for resolving conflicts that is concise and accessible.
Once again, that key communication, keeping the lines of communication open.
Some of the most effective leaders have worked their way up through the company. One of the reasons Project Management Institute (PMI) requires a certain amount of experience before sitting for the PMP exam, is so that PMP’s can show that they know how to work within a variety of aspects within the project management field.
Leaders that have performed the duties they are asking team members to perform, know what motivated them, and can apply those same qualities to the project. They are flexible, because they understand where their team members are coming from and they are decisive because they know where the project is going.
Performance reviews, quality assessments, even something as simple as saying “good job”, allows your team to know that you are paying attention and that you appreciate their effort. When the team is motivated, they will provide quality results. Giving credit where credit is due .
A leader knows when problems arise. Conflicts are resolved quickly, for the good of all involved, without compromise to the project itself. A leader doesn’t just dive into a conflict but takes the time to study and assess the situation. Once they have come to a decision about the appropriate resolution, they take the extra time to run it past the project management team. It is ultimately the PMP’s decision, but by keeping the team involved it leads to a more cohesive outcome.
Ultimately it comes down to being the decision maker. The PMP in charge of the project is the person that makes the decisions. Whether that decision is to go to the client with an idea to alter a program, or the decision is to move resources in order to accommodate an issue, the project manager is the one who it all falls down to.
There are six steps to making a decision:
- Defining the problem
- Generating solutions
- Evaluating the pros and cons
- Determining the effects on the project, including, personnel, resources, budget, and schedule,
- Taking the time to make a decision
- And applying the best resolution to the issue.
During the course of a project you will make many decisions. Most of them will be the right decision. Some may not work out as well. Being a good leader you take ownership of your decisions and by doing so, you allow your team to help you find the best solutions.
The Master of Many
A PMP is there from the start of the project through closure. They now apply their strengths to the project. They are calm if faced with calamity. They are reasonable in the face of conflict. They possess the best mixture of expertise, education, experience, and personal qualities necessary to follow the project throughout its life cycle.
A Project Management Professional will:
See the Master Plan
Keeping the scope of work in sight, no matter how small the detail, in order to keep the project on target.
Planning, documenting, and utilizing the best resources to reach the milestones set in the project management plan.
Having the knowledge and skills to provide the best plans in the most efficient manner.
RemainTried and True
Responsible and true to the goal of the project and forthright with all of the individuals that are involved, no matter the question, or the problem.
Be Ready for Action
From the minute the project starts until the final celebration, keeping focus on the end result.
Taking command when asked, and knowing when it’s necessary.
Connecting with the team, the shareholders, the client, and the project.
Staying calm, throughout problems and issues, and commanding calm from those around you.
Rely on Best Practices
Being ethical, in all of your dealings within the project and beyond.
These qualities make a PMP. It can all be summed up in the poem, If, by Rudyard Kipling:
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,” then you are a Jack of Trades, a Master of Many, a quality PMP.