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The SQUAD Report, Our Project Management Blog

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The accidental project manager

9/21/2017
The accidental project manager

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.


Would the Director of Accounting ask someone from HR to step in and create journal entries?  How frequently does the CIO ask Marketing to monitor network traffic?  Does the SVP of Manufacturing ever seek out a Legal team member to run the line?  Never!  But, organizations across the US and beyond continue to view Project Management as something less than it is.  Project Management is a highly skilled Profession.  

Are your Accidental Project Managers prepared to write the Project Charter, Define the Work Breakdown Structure, Build a Project Schedule, Assess the Critical Path, Build and Maintain the Risk Log,  Present Weekly Status Report, on and on?  Have you provided these Accidental Project Managers adequate training to ensure they know how to lead a project?  Do they know how to request resources?  Do they know how to use the project management software and tools?

As a Leader within your organization are you willing to take the heat when the project fails?  At year end review time are you up for the challenge of letting your Star SME get a poor assessment because he/she did a poor job leading a project?  Aren't we as Leaders expected to put our team in a position to succeed?

As Project Management Professionals it is our responsibility to help our clients and Organizational Leaders understand the hazards of off loading Project Management to Accidental Project Managers (APMs).