For the past few years, since obtaining my PMP credential, I have wondered “what kind of project manager am I?”
There’s been a recent explosion of project management professionals (PMPs), and the recognition of the field for both its compensation levels and place in the playbook of organizational success is on a meteoric rise. As the field builds its history, one project at a time, the Project Management Institute (PMI) which governs it all, seems to be building itself one certification at a time. So, it’s left me pondering whether I am essentially a project management professional (still the most widely recognized credential), although I know for sure I have dabbled in the world of program management, and have become rather agile. as well…
Although I enjoy practicing project management both at home and work, I am struggling to sort through what all of the different disciplines, techniques and project management certifications really mean and how they translate to real world practice.
Much like the transition from single employee to managing a team is not a linear one, when the project manager’s focus moves into program management managing multiple projects , the focus also moves – from a single circle on a venn diagram to multiple circles that overlap. Each project presents itself with its own personality, comprised of unique requirements, stakeholders, schedules, dependencies and constraints.
And while we are taught that each project should be managed according to a standard framework, using specific steps and templates, what we are not taught is how to modify our approach depending on the project, organizational culture, or constraints involved.
For many project managers (and me), our projects don’t fail. Translate: we do whatever it takes to get the job done, the product delivered on time, and fast-track whichever resources and deliverables we need to along the way. How we accomplish this feat is often a combination of using tried and true project management methods like initiating, planning, managing scope creep, controlling quality, babysitting resources, and keeping a tight ruler along the budget baseline -BUT, we also extend the basic guidelines and make them our own, or our project’s own for that matter, and apply tweaks as appropriate. Exploring alternative project management methods (the “traditional” vs. “agile” argument) or mixing methods on your projects really depends on which techniques will allow you to manage your project to a successful completion, on time, within scope and budget.
Project Management methodology was inaugurated based on the need to quantify projects with the correct techniques and create justification for official project teams that ensure results; additional methods of traditional project management such as Agile were propelled by the need to refine “broken” or less-than-perfect mechanisms within the traditional framework. Regardless, methods won’t be up for heavy scrutiny – results will.
Documentation/ [approach] doesn’t really matter. Addressing the underlying need [in a project] is what actually matters. ~Jesse Fewell, PMP, CST
So, the conclusion of all of this confusion about what type of project manager are you and what is the best way to manage a project is really non-conclusive. No one approach nor credential trumps another. Rather, project management is like a tried and true recipe tweaked to perfection and handed down through the ages – not necessarily the exact science the certification exams want you to believe.
…At the end of the day, call us what you want. We are the ones who get it done.
Wishing You Success,