They say it’s never too late. Never too late to go back to school, learn ice-skating, undo a mistake or make a childhood dream come true. Wish the same could be said for project failures, unmet deadlines, and lost clients.
As project managers, we’ve all had a taste of at least one project gone awry. Where the damage was unfixable and repair out of question. The failure of which still haunts us, makes us wonder what we could have done to prevent it?
Does this look familiar? I think everyone I know plays the game of "get ALL the toothpaste out of the tube!" That toothpaste probably cost us about $2.50 and we aren't going to throw it away until we know we've gotten every last drop of toothpaste out of it.
Why then, do organizations not treat projects like we treat toothpaste? Projects cost organizations $10,000 or $50,000 or $250,000 or a $1 million. Certainly more than the cost of a tube of toothpaste.
Is there such a thing as Good vs Great Project Managers? Of course there is! Just as with any profession, some Project Managers are better than others. There are several items which can contribute to this differentiation such as; Consistency, Attitude, Experience, Background, Desire, Training and more. What I've found over the years is that the PM who has developed "soft skills" has an edge over PMs lacking these soft skills. Even more specifically, I've found through my experience there are 8 soft skills which are the most important for a PM to cultivate and grow.
I was a pretty decent baseball player back in the day. Lots of Business Lessons were learned between the lines; Leadership, Trust, Teamwork to name a few. Another lesson was the use of a Playbook. My freshman year of High School I was called up to the Varsity team and the coach gave me the team Playbook. I had never used a Playbook in baseball. Hit the ball, throw the ball, run. What was the need?
We've all seen it.....
Hey John, can you please take on this project? Problem is, John isn't a Project Manager. We know how this is going to finish!
Over and over again organizations ask employees to take on Project Manager responsibilities for critical projects. Usually the reasoning being the employee is a subject matter expert or has seniority in the department. These top organizational employees are now put in a position in which they are not prepared. They haven't received Project Management training, are unfamiliar with tools, haven't had to negotiate resources, have never built a schedule and are being set up to fail. This all too common scenario has given birth to the Accidental Project Manager.
I am often asked, "Why do we need a PMO?" Regardless of industry the question is the same. If we have Project Managers then why do we need a PMO. I guess thats a fair question and it allows me to ask a few follow up questions to get a good dialogue started.
I'll ask my clients if they have an Accounting Department - Yes.
Do you have an Accounts Payable team/resources - Yes.
Do you have a set process for how you pay your vendors - Yes. See where this is going??