Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Am I a project Manager?

Not much activity here at PMStu.

I have spent some time lately thinking about what a project manager really is and whether I should be daring to post my thoughts on project management. Until very recently I feel my role could best be described as team leader with the words project manager included in my job title (Senior Analyst / Project Manager) just to make me feel good...it didn't work! As such I am no longer in that role.

My new role - I.T. Manager - at at start up finance company would be recognised as every bit a project manager.

On the "am I really a project manager?", as it pertains to IT at least, it appears the jury is still out, in an industry that is reletively still extremely young. Maybe when the rest of the IT industry grows up a little, so will the discipline of managing projects in the IT industry. After all, how can we expect to create a discipline out of managing IT projects when we haven't made a discipline of building IT systems yet. Yes, there are those that build good systems, quality systems, robust, sound, well designed systems, plenty of them, but there are so many that don't, they can ruin it for the consciencious ones among us. I have loosened the lid on another can of worms I'd prefer to keep shut right now.

Am I a project manager? I say - Who cares?! Are you achieving what you need to achieve to deliver the systems you want to achieve? Yes? Are you managing all the "resources" available to you at the moment in a way that delivers what is expected of you - yes - then what more can you do? If you need control over more resources - i.e. budgets, staff, infrastructure, then get that control and manage it or you risk not delivering what you have been asked to deliver.

I have found that this approach makes me feel good about what I do. There is however the question of facing prospective employers who want a project manager. My advice, and this has worked for me in the real world, is to err on the side of conservatism. If you haven't had a formal role in a large bureacratic company managing staff, budgets, producing metrics and reporting to a board, be prepared to describe yourself as leading projects/teams, coordinating projects etc. You will not be creating a false impression. Then when you stike one of the vast majority of employers call anyone who knows how to create a Gantt chart in MSProject, a project manager, they wil be presently surprised with your capabilities and experience.

For an equally non-committal view (necessarily so given the subject matter - this is not a critisism) see this article on Gantthead.