Being a Project Management Professional (PMP) requires more than just knowledge of project management methodologies. It requires a unique set of qualities that set PMPs apart from the rest. In this article, we will explore the 6 essential qualities of a PMP that make them a jack of all trades and a master of many.
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.
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Try the first two modules of Brain Sensei’s story-based PMP and CAPM Exam Prep courses and a mini practice exam and see how it all works
Becoming a successful PMP requires more than just technical project management knowledge. It requires a combination of leadership, communication, problem-solving, adaptability, organizational skills, and strategic thinking. By developing these qualities, you will become a jack of all trades and a master of many, capable of managing complex projects and delivering exceptional results. Embrace these qualities as you pursue PMP certification and elevate your project management career to new heights.
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