"Must be able to handle 5 to 6 projects at one time as well as handle requests for quotes for future work." So says a job posting for a project manager. There are many different criteria asked for and assumed when it comes to project management. Also a basic generic criterion all project managers either have studied or performed. The following is a short list of only three of the non-basic criteria: 1. A defense contractor requires a Project Manager who is proficient in electronic troubleshooting.
The company also requests that the PM have at least 10 years experience at actually being the project manager. 2. A small glass company near Tampa, Florida, requires the PM to be strong in accounting skills. 3. A construction company stresses that their PM must have "the ability to handle 5 to 6 projects at one time as well as handle requests for quotes for future work"; previously mentioned at the beginning.
Showing these postings as an example stresses the diverse applications a PM is exposed to. The ability to adapt and change must be strong within the PM as well as the organization in question. Mentioned earlier in this paper, there are specific areas of study or experience a PM must know to be considered a PM. According to the article, "Getting Started in Project Management" (The Hampton Group) there are eight areas to master: 1. Scope and Charter. A charter is simply a contract between the project members.
These members include the project manager and the stakeholders involved. This contract, signed or just verbally agreed to, is generally the single most important tool a project manager can use, if used in the correct manner. It sets the basis of growth for the project. (Template).
The scope of the project will set the tone of the project. It defines the limits and it sets the result. Utilizing concepts such as conceptual thinking and if the end result is created at the beginning of the project, the success of the project is quantifiable and is able to flex with the projects movements. To create the scope, a PM asks the stakeholders what their meaning of success is in terms of the project in question. What will have to be attained before the stakeholders are satisfied with end results.
2. Work Breakdown Structure. The WBS determines the exact nature of the tasks required to complete the project (Meredith and Mendel, p 162). The WBS, typically used after a clear understanding of the project is clear (Blair), will breakdown the project into pieces that are even more easily understood. It describes the steps / areas involved not often seen when considering "the big picture." It is important to not get to detailed in describing each of these steps in the beginning.
By only providing enough information to help get someone started, you avoid the micro-managing aspect of project management (Blair). 3. Predecessor Network. A Gantt chart shows the relationships between the different aspects of a project.
These charts, typically used to convey a view of "the big picture", Meredith and Mendel write, " [Gantt Charts] are easy to maintain as long as task requirements are not changed or major alterations of the schedule are not made." (P. 332) The use of Gantt charts is limited in its ability in showing how falling behind on one part of the schedule affects the other parts of the schedule... A PERT chart, designed to show how scheduling conflicts affect the other tasks, also is another of the predecessor network tools available to PM's. PERT, Program Evaluation Review Technique, introduced by the US Navy in the middle part of the 1900's, to manage the Polaris missile program. The PERT chart is similar to the Critical Path Method.
PERT and CPM are often interchanged (Pert Chart). However, many PM's will use both the Gantt chart and the Pert Chart, as the use of the Gantt eases the difficulty of interpreting the PERT. 4. Effective Project Teams. A team is a diverse group of people with a common goal. Gathering the personalities needed to be effective as a team, the PM is able to direct the goals in a successful manner.
An effective team is synergistic in its response to completing the goals set. Their roles, communicated and understood, are often set aside for the good of the team. The members understand that conflict is an effective decision making method. Effective team meetings are productive and the team members anticipate the meetings. The PM or team facilitator communicates the successes of each met goal. (Leadership Teams) 5.
Scheduling and Budgeting. The use of software, accurately and effectively, utilizes the available resources. Microsoft Project is one of the available tools for the PM to use. Software Magazine lists the different types of planning software developed and their pros and cons. Microsoft's Project is set as the standard for others to follow. (Table) 6.
Status Reporting. Regular and timely status reports are an important tool for PM's. They should identify and illustrate the successes as well as the cause and effects of the successes. Time / cost reports and variance reports are often included in a project status report. The use of all data available assures a complete understanding among all stakeholders involved with the project.
(Meredith and Mendel, p. 418) 7. Problem Solving. The use of a Gantt chart is helpful in spotting potential problems. It compares the baseline data with the current schedule. (Microsoft) At that point, once the problem is spotted, the use of other problem solving tools is required, for example: brainstorming, Strength Weaknesses Opportunities and Tasks (SWOT) and the use of number eight below, critical path analysis, are effective tools in problem solving and decision making.
(Problem) 8. Critical Path Analysis. A complex project requires a focusing of priorities that a simpler project does not require. Using a critical path analysis tool, such as the PERT chart, helps to schedule and prioritize the tasks in an effective manner.
(The Hampton Group) As shown, Project Managers are diverse in intellect and technical expertise. It also does not hurt to have a healthy sense of humour as seen from some of the sources used in compiling this paper. An effective project manager, it seems, has to be able to do and know everything all at once and with a smile on his or her face. Of course, that is an overly simplistic view on the duties of a project manager. Yet, the three job postings and the general requirements expected from a project manager, infer that expectation..