Are You Smarter Than A Project Manager?
That’s the question leading off a recent newsletter from the Microsoft Project Users Group. Specifically, are you smarter than a PMP, a certified-by-the-Project-Management-Institute Professional Project Manager?
The challenge is to perform a “simple task”:
Your task is to open Microsoft Project 2010, create a single task for a “Status Meeting”, and if not in auto schedule mode please ensure it is for the task. Now assign three resources to the task.
Okay, maybe it’s a bit unfair to pick on this particular task, since after all this is a Microsoft Project newsletter, not a project management newsletter. Still, it reinforces the notion that “project management” and “project management resource-and-scheduling software” are synonymous.
That’s a dangerous notion in any area of project management, let alone managing projects involving professionals (e.g., lawyers) rather than engineers.1
But look at the assumptions in the question:
- Of all tasks to create, why the most frustrating and often least productive of all project tasks, a status meeting? Yet either the author considers it a critical step, or it’s the first thing that sprang to his mind.
- The problem assumes that status meetings by default occur with metronomic precision. Many project managers prefer to schedule such meetings around points of progress rather than points of the calendar.
- Manipulating MS Project is not a requirement for great project managers. Maintaining a schedule in Project is a project-administration task that need not be done by the project manager or project leader.
I’m not suggesting that this is a terrible task. On some projects, it may be a reasonable one. But as a default question to see if the reader is “smarter than a PMP,” I think it reinforces in a few short sentences so many of the things that lead to bad project management.
Let me ask my own question, then. What’s most important to a good project manager?
- Win the trust of your manager.
- Win the trust of your project team.
- Be really good with project management software.
- Get certified as a PMP.
(It’s a bit of a trick question. #1 will keep you employed for a while, which is a good thing, but won’t help deliver the project. #2, however, will also lead to #1.)
Remember the pyramid.
Project administration is useful, but it doesn’t in itself make projects successful. Project management is a broad set of skills that can help your project forward. But it’s project leadership that makes projects succeed.
Become a project leader. (They’re even smarter than project managers!)