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NotesOn: IT Fundamentals — Project Management 101

Introduction (v1.1)

This is a very simple and straightforward post.  It has to do with lessons learned … and learned … and learned … and …  Apparently some management type folks have to learn “things” the hard way.  Or.  Never thought there was anything regarding Project Management to be learned.  Except.  Of course.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  For those who don’t know it, here is Lesson 1 from Project Management 101.

Ref:

NotesOn:  IT Fundamentals — Simple Defined

NotesOn:  The Four Fundamental Life Cycles of IT

A Fundamental Fundamental:

Over the last few weeks I became privy to a number of “horror stories”.  Not even most of them involved IT.  But they all were wrapped around, had wrapped themselves around, the subject of Project Management.

Not one, not two, not three, nor four … but 5 project managers in less than that number of weeks … failed … badly.

Every single one of these “PM’s”, all five, either thought they knew something about being a Project Manager.  Or were told, and were possibly assured, that they did.

All five failed, using the fullest most catastrophic definition of the word, miserably.  And nearly took their projects down with them.  Quite understandably, they also ticked off (as in seriously upset) their project’s stakeholders and clients.

It is still in doubt, deeply in doubt, whether two of the projects can be brought back to life.  One of the remaining three has been resuscitated by bringing in a heavy hitter PM, i.e. one with tons and tons of hands-on experience.  I don’t have any second-hand data, at the moment, on how the last two are faring, but I suspect, from what I do know, not all that well.

This is a Project Management High Crime.

Throwing untrained and inexperienced people into the wide open, fresh-meat grinding, jaws of “their” brand new project with the mistaken belief that project management is a “piece of cake” is a painful, cost ineffective disservice to all concerned.

What I also don’t know is whether, or not, these five fated to fail PMs had any, even remotely relevant, management experience under their belts. However.  Whether they did or not is irrelevant.  For whomever assigned them, knowingly or unknowingly violated PM Rule #1:

PM Rule #1:  If one has not been trained and mentored as a Project Manager … one … is … not … a Project Manager.

Being given the title (by a hopefully well meaning manager or executive) does not count as an exception to the above rule.

There are no exceptions to the above rule.

If one is not a Project Manager but is managing a project, unless drastic action is taken immediately, the project will falter.  If no drastic actions are taken, the project will, in due course, fail.

PM Rule #1 Violation First Aid:

Drastic resuscitation (life restoring) actions include:

  • Finding a copy of and reading late into the night, every night, the Project Management Book of Knowledge (a.k.a. PMBOK®)
  • Getting training on it, far sooner than later, by a hands-on highly experienced PM who is also an instructor.
  • Getting mentored on it, while the project is being managed by a hands-on experienced PM … who has earned the title.
  • Reading and studying other books and references on project management.

The above is in addition to having, or rapidly developing, strong interpersonal communication skills.

I know this next statement is a bit cynical, I should be totally caring of everyone’s feelings, even those who have put someone else in a position of crashing and burning (and likely walking away from the subject in complete disgust), but … one would think after all these tens and scores of years where companies watched one project after another fail, or heavily, expensively, falter they would have learned that Project Management is its own technology, its own skill-set … and … that there are no shortcuts.  … Maybe that should be PM Rule #2.

Summary:

Now that I have pointed this out (again) it should be too obvious for further words.

Does this make sense?

I hope so.

Hope this helps,

DP Harshman

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