Negative habits in selecting Project Manager

It is too common to see in our company that a project manager is selected based on several criteria set by our management. The criteria might be derived from personal preference, availability of the project manager, good technical background, seniority in the company and so on and so forth. The new project might be urgent and your boss might not have much time to go through all of the criteria or even he does not have a list of criteria. Therefore, he just checks the available staff under him and call him into his office.

I just got mandated to run this project under my program. Since you are the PMP project manager and your schedule is not so tight, I am proposing your name as the Project Manager”. As a subordinate, the only option he has to say is ‘yes’ and he is ready for the new challenge, although he has no experience in managing that kind of a project.

This is usual in our daily work, since the boss does have many options left and all of his staffs are fully occupied with other projects with some have two or three projects in hands. Franky speaking, I will do the same thing. Before I move further, I just want to emphasize that this article is not meant to be the guidelines nor rules that must be followed in order to pick the project manager correctly. Rather it is just a list of common mistakes that management made based on the wrong criteria. In other words, assuming that there are not many constraints in man power and expert’s availability, these wrong criteria ought to be avoided.

  • Seniority
    Some of the bosses give a project to a staff based on the number of years he has been working as a project manager. This might be the right way. But be careful, some project managers have been managing projects for 10 years in a specific field only. For example, in Telecommunication industry, specifically on the Radio Access Network (RAN). By appointing him as a Billing System Project Manager, he might be using the same policies and procedures and one way of managing project that do not suit with the IT project environment. Billing system projects are known to be more dynamic and relentlessly user driven.
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  • Hard-Nosed tactics
    As the hard-nose character is one of the good attribute in Project Management, but it cannot be used in all situations. Too micromanaging and too harsh tactics can demoralize the project team members especially when he gets the team members from their functional managers. In their functional line, the team members are used to a macro managed leadership style since their performance are being monitored and controlled by their Managers in year-end appraisal. Their daily jobs are therefore not closely monitored. Thus as a Project Manager, he must be able to adapt leadership style to the project team so that they are comfortable working with him.
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  • Technical Expertise
    Promoting a technical specialist to project management because of his technical expertise may be accepted if, and only if, the project requires this expertise and technical direction, as in R&D effort. If the project requires a “generalist” to be a project manager, assigning highly technical personnel to this assignment may result in several drawbacks (unless the technical personnel has been trained to adopt the business mind-set, as what MBA degree objective is all about).
    1. The greater the project manager’s technical expertise, the higher the tendency that we will overly involve himself in the technical details of the project.
    2. The greater the project manager’s difficulty in delegating technical task responsibilities, the more likely it is that he will over involve himself in the technical details of the project (depending upon his expertise to do so).
    3. The greater the project manager’s interest in the technical details of the project, the more likely it is that he will defend the project manager’s role as one of the technical specialist.
    4. The lower the project manager’s technical expertise, the more likely it is that he will overstress the nontechnical project functions (administrative functions).

     

  • Customer Orientation
    Executives quite often selecting the project manager due to the skill of that person in communicating well with customers. Well while most of this fact is true, the executives must also understand that without the proper support to the project manager, the project will be subject to failure. Therefore, the executives must provide him with the strong supporting team to the selected project manager for effective and efficient project management.
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  • New Exposure
    In some occasions, the project manager is selected from the functional team where the person usually does the operational works for years. The executives might have their own objective, to make him or her well rounded individual and better understand the working relationship between project management and line management. However, after spending about twelve to sixteen months in the project management, his or her skills on operational tasks might be obsolete. Furthermore, there is higher chance that the person will not want to come back to the functional line as he or she has got the taste of doing project management.
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  • Company Exposure
    If the executives plan to appoint a project manager from a person who has worked in they variety of divisions in the company, then think again. The executives need to double check his background and his work performance in every division he has been. If he performed averagely good, then he is up for the new challenge. However, if he was jumping from one division to another due to his incompetency, then putting him into a project management will maximize the damage he can do to the company.

Major citation:

Kerzner, H. (2013). Project Management, A System Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. 

pmp

Learn PMI-isms before taking PMP exam…

 

Before you even plan to take the PMP exam, you need to understand how the examiners thought when they prepared the MCQ questions. There will be 200 questions in which 25 of them will be the experimental questions and only 175 questions will be counted as your scores. But you would not know which is one is which during the exam. And you need to answer all of them within 4 hours.

Now, as what I have mentioned just now, we need think as what the examiners think in order to answer the questions correctly. Their thoughts are all in parallel with PMI best practise standard that they have advocated in the PMBOK and other famous PMP preparation Books. This is what some people called it PMI-isms. Once you understand the concept of PMI-isms, then it will be easier for you to understand the questions’ context and correctly answer them.

Based on Rita Mulcahy’s and et al., the PMI-isms can be broken down into 4 categories, mainly general, planning, executing and closing. In this article, let’s take a look on the first category, general. I am listing over here the main points of general PMI-isms concept:

  1. Project Manager is the superhero in the project and he must be very skilled
  2. Project Manager put the interest of the project first, not his or her own interest
  3. Project Manager is always assumed working in the large project with more than 200 people involved from many countries with the budget not less than $10 million, unless it is stated otherwise.
  4. Project Manager will be executing all the activities stated in the PMBOK guide.
  5. Project Manager will always be assigned in the initiating phase of the project.
  6. Project Manager understand the process of project Management.
  7. The project is chosen based on organization’s strategic goals
  8. Project Manager understand why the project is chosen and make sure the objectives and business case of the project are met during planning and executing.
  9. Team members are self-managed people and they know what they need to do.
  10. Organizations have a project management office (PMO) and that office has clearly defined responsibilities.
  11. Organization already have project management policies that the Project Manager need to follow.
  12. A project might be part of a program or portfolios.
  13. Organization have records on the historical information and lesson learned that can be used by the project manager in the planning phase and the project manager will feed again historical records and lesson learned from his current project back into organization’s knowledge base.
  14. Project Manager will work within the company’s existing system and culture (Enterprise Environmental factors)
  15. Every project will have a project charter
  16. Every project will have Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  17. Project Management Plan is not only a bar chart plan, but a series of management plans.
  18. Project Manager will always keep and update project documents in addition to the project management plan.
  19. People must be compensated for their work.
  20. PMI does not approve gold platting.
  21. Most projects are managed in a matrix environment and therefore the motivation theory and conflict resolution will be more complicated
  22. Project Manager has a professional responsibility to properly use the tools and processes of project management.

In conclusion, you cannot rely most of your experience in project management in attempting to answer PMP questions since your experience might not be in accordance to PMI-isms concept, as stated above. To have a full understanding on the PMI concept and PMP best practise, you ought to read more PMP related books and attending one of the PMP exam preparation training. Besides, not only you will gain the PMI best practise knowledge, you will also understand what is the best practise skills and tools that are being used by Project Managers around the world, in order to manage your own project effectively and successfully meeting the project objectives.

I will write the other PMI-isms in my next article.

And I hope this article is helpful for your preparation in taking PMP exam.

Stay tune...

PM Admin..

Kenapa Projek Anda Gagal?

Kenapa sesebuah projek itu gagal atau susah mencapai KPI yang ditetapkan?

Anda mungkin pernah mengalaminya lebih-lebih lagi jikalau anda berada di dalam project team atau menjadi Project Manager. Atau mungkin anda merupakan seorang pekerja bagi syarikat swasta yang banyak bergantung kepada projek-projek kerajaan dan swasta. Kegagalan dalam projek akan menyumbang kepada kerugian dari segi moral dan kewangan buat sesebuah syarikat dan project team. Pelanggan-pelanggan mula menyalahkan anda dan cuba mengambil tindakan penalti kepada syarikat anda yang akhirnya menyebabkan keuntungan sasar syarikat tidak tercapai. Malah pelanggan-pelanggan anda sudah tidak mahu berurusan dengan anda lagi. Nama anda sudah busuk di dalam industri. Pekerja-pekerja mula hilang moral dan perlahan-lahan mengambil keputusan untuk meninggal syarikat atau team anda, yang mana akan memburukkan lagi keadaan koordinasi syarikat.

Di sini saya senaraikan punca-punca kegagalan projek secara ringkas:

  1. Melantik Project Manager yang tidak cekap dan tidak berkelayakan (mengikut tahap kerumitan projek).
  2. Project Manager tidak diberi kuasa yang sewajarnya dalam melaksanakan projek.
  3. Projek tidak mendapat sokongan dari pihak-pihak dalam syarikat.
  4. Membuat anggaran kos yang tidak tepat dah tidak munasabah.
  5. Gagal untuk mengenal pasti kos-kos yang tersembunyi.
  6. Mengambil mudah soal pengurusan kontrak.
  7. Tidak membuat perancangan secara menyeluruh dan terperinci. Lebih tertarik untuk melaksanakan projek daripada membuat perancangan.
  8. Tak ambil kisah pasal pengurusan risiko.
  9. Project Manager dan project team lemah dalam menguruskan komunikasi dengan pihak-pihak yang berkepentingan di dalam projek.
  10. Tidak pandai memahami objektif bisnes, objektif projek, fokus dan skop.
  11. Tidak berdisiplin dalam melaksanakan projek.
  12. Tidak membuat pemantauan dan kawalan semasa perlaksanaan projek.
  13. Memilih bahan-bahan berkualiti rendah semata-mata untuk menjimatkan kos.
  14. Berjanji dengan pelanggan dengan garis masa atau jadual projek yang terlalu optimistik (tidak berdasarkan kepada situasi sebenar).

Dan banyak lagi. Oleh itu, sesebuah syarikat dan Project Manager haruslah memahami konsep-konsep pengurusan projek yang betul supaya projek yang dilaksanakan membuahkan hasil dan menepati kehendak pelanggan. Proses ini mungkin akan mengambil lama berdasarkan pengalaman, ataupun melalui proses pembelajaran berdasarkan amalan terbaik yang dilakukan oleh project managers seluruh dunia yang mereka sendiri pernah melalui kegagalan dan kejayaan dalam melaksanakan projek. Sudah tentu pembelajaran seperti ini dapat mempercepatkan proses untuk syarikat dan project manager menjadi lebih matang dalam pengurusan projek.

When your boss asks you to do something…

Usually, when your boss or your superior ask you to do some works or to initiate a project, how are you going to start?

What are the strategies to initiate it effectively?

To be an effective junior executives or managers, these are the things that you need take into accounts when your boss or superior asks you do some works or to initiate a project:

  1. What is the scope of the work or project that is given to you?
  2. How long is the time given to you to complete this task?
  3. How much is the budget allocated for this work?
  4. Who are the people in the company will involve in this work?
  5. Who are the external parties that you need to deal with?
  6. Who are the influential and powerful people that you need to work with?
  7. How do you plan to effectively communicate with all of these people?
  8. Is there any existing business process in order to execute this work?
  9. Is there any forms or templates that you need to fill up?
  10. What are the risk in executing this work?
  11. What are the constraints incurred for this work?
  12. What is the measurable success criteria for you to complete this work or project?
  13. Is the culture of this company cooperatively supporting this kind of work?
  14. Is there any hidden agenda from any other executives that might impede the success of this work completion?
  15. How are the political games happening in your company? Can you leverage on them to support your work for achieving the objectives?

Your boss might not know all of the answers either, however you have to have your own initiatives to find them for yourself. If some of the questions are not relevant to that work, then just skip it and go to the next question. The point no. 13, 14 am 15 might need you to stay longer in the company, for you to understand the ins and outs of your organization behaviour.

The list might be longer that this, however, these basic questions will be able to help you to strategies your work thoroughly and able to reflect your management skill maturity among your colleagues and to your upper management. You will be seen as a brilliant and outstanding employee by showing your ability to think ahead and plan properly.

Start being a brilliant executive now!

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