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New Perspective of Project Manager Required Knowledge Areas – Part I

Oct 22, 2010 by     11 Comments    Posted under: IT Project Management
 

"Of all the things I've done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal." Walt Disney

Project management practice is increasingly grabbing IT industry interest. Currently there are two dominating methodologies of project management, namely, US Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) initiated by project management institute (PMI) and UK PRojects IN Controlled Environment 2 (PRINCE2). Both methodologies tries to standardize project management practices through establishing a set of guidelines, standard processes, and controls. PMI focuses upon providing the tools and techniques required for every process and HOW they are applied. On the other hand, PRINCE2 focuses on the nitty gritty of project management practice details without going to the ‘HOW’ part. Nevertheless it provides heavy details and templates for required deliverables.

Throughout hard skills required by project managers represented in PMI knowledge areas and processes and PRINCE2 controls, components, and processes, we still find a lot of other skills and knowledge areas that do not have enough attention. In this post, I will highlight few of them.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo da Vinci

Project managers should not plan for complexity. However, complexity shows down the road accidentally. IT project managers should absorb the complexity generated from development, design, end-users, etc. The art of simplicity is a highly required attribute of successful project managers. On the other hand, simplicity needs proper planning and cannot stumble about easily. Project managers should create communication plans, change management, scope control, and other areas as simple as possible.

Selecting the Team

This is another skill of project manager. Among the whole herd how IT project manager should select good talents. It is a core skill of IT project manager to spot special people who could make big difference with projects and missions assigned to them. Resources selection should balance core technical skills with other soft skills. Beside setting some questions inspecting resource muscles with core skills during interview, other parts of interview should explore the blind side of personality, named as “attitude”. As more agility is required in nowadays projects, other soft skills have increasing importance. This covers cross-functional communication, ability to produce under pressure, problem solving and other required skills of team members.

The Skill of Delivery

Methodologies do not make deliveries. They help and guide based on best practices exercised before in the past. PMBoK is a general project management practice and is not intended to specific industry and accordingly is not addressing IT industry. I argue that IT project manager should have an IT background. He should be fully aware of software development life cycle (SDLC) utilized. This helps a lot in delivering project objectives. Agile software methodologies favor “Now” over “Soon” or “Later”. The art of developing a plan that guarantees incremental delivery of projects target with faster ROI to customers. This area is not covered in most PM methodologies since they are product development independent. I will tackle this topic in more details in future posts.

The Art of Dealing with Human Beings

This is one of negligible areas that require a great amount of soft skills. This area is not governed by physical science, it is rather a branch of social science. The ability of IT project manager to assess the context of surrounding people, i.e., stakeholders, sponsors, etc. is very important in identifying the approach of management style. Sometimes following the book without consulting surrounding human nature causes project failure. Smart project managers realize these facts and act accordingly.

I will continue adding more perspectives in future posts. It is good to share with your point of views as well.

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11 Comments + Add Comment

  • […] post is part II of a previously discussed subject regarding new perspective of project manager required knowledge areas. Those series of posts highlights more skills and knowledge areas that need to be mastered by […]

     
  • If you are a project manager and (God forbidden) the project management office assign a bad human resource to your project (i.e. does not have enough technical knowledge, commitment … etc.). What should you do?

     
  • I have another issue:

    Does PMI cover the part of transferring the knowledge (may be also the resources) from the project team to operations team? (Considering that in many cases valuable project members are not available in the last project phase – low staffing level in project closing).

     
    • Actually this is a good point. PMI is referring to what is called “Lessons Learned” which constitutes organization memory and experience of previous projects. This becomes an organization asset over time. But I could not found specific knowledge transfer in any KA. Since from one angle it may not be directly pertained to project management activities.

       
  • PMI says that the PM could have nosmall knowledge with his project business.
    Are there any real examples that successful project managers managed two or more projects in different industries (i.e. IT and medicine)?

    I believe that one of the success factors of the PM is knowing the business he is working in. This has many advantages such as:
    – Reducing the risk of requirements misunderstanding.
    – Strengthening the relationship and trust between him and the users (since project management is social science not physics).
    – Even directing the users to the correct business (using his experience in different enterprises).

    By the way, this was my manager’s advice in my first project in Al Rajhi Bank (and it is working).

     
  • I can see that to achive your project successfully you should consider the follwoing factors:

    1-How to define the Scope
    2-How to do the right and reasonable Schedules
    3-Handling the Costs based on the time & scope based
    4-How to minimize or avoid the Risks
    5-Good Communication “stackholders , managers, operators,,, etc”
    6-Team member bulid , performance monitoring and managing
    8-Quality of the project
    9- Fineness deliver
    10- How to manage the surprise changes in the scop that belongs to bad comminucation “bad gathering of the customer requirements” or and extra requerment requested by the stackholders during the PLC.

    What do you think ?

     
    • All of these are really key success factor to the project once they applied properly. PMI focuses in such points in its knowledge areas that comprises best practices.

       
  • I would like to thank you Mohammed for what are you doing for us , and the efforts you give to increase the level of our knowledge.

    Thanks a lot

     
    • Thanks Kamal – I hope this is useful – the most important that we continue learning and convert our practical experience into knowledge that everybody can benefit.

      this will not be achieved unless we contribute proactively and build this new culture.

      regards,
      Mohamed Abdel Moenim

       
  • I would like to thank you Mohamed for your beautiful soul, we really need this spirit even among us raise our spirits
    I already owned the large number of materials but there is no will to read, and this persistence on your part will make all of us moving large forward steps.

    What About Rita’s Book 6 Edition for PMI Certification Path? can we depend completely on it?

     
    • Ahmed,

      Thanks for kind words.

      Rita’s books are very good actually you can rely on them but take care that you need to go through PMBoK 4th edition through. Moreover, make sure that Rita’s book edition covers latest PMBoK edition which is 4th.

      Perhaps i will make a post for how to get PMP certification as smooth as possible.

      good luck in your way for certification.

      Regards,
      Mohamed Abdel Moneim

       

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