Project Management

If you're going to be a project manager, be a proactive one

There are three types of project managers--accidental ones, good ones, and proactive ones.

There are three types of project managers. The first type is the "accidental" project manager. Usually, this project manager comes up through the ranks. For instance, a strong programmer becomes the project manager on a development project. Or a strong network technician becomes the project manager on a large network upgrade. These people understand the types of projects that they are managing, they can build a workplan, and they can assign work to other team members. However, they don't have a lot of project management discipline.

The second type of project manager understands that successful project management requires you to manage issues, scope, communication, risk, etc. The question is whether you are a strong enough project manager is to understand that project management discipline needs to be proactive. The proactive project manager, the third type, is someone who has made the mental transition to apply his or her discipline on a proactive and ongoing basis. Look at the following examples of how this works.

  • A good project manager completes the initial Project Definition (charter) because it's required by the organization. A proactive project manager understands that the project must be defined ahead of time, and if it isn't, the team won't have a clear picture of the work that must be done.
  • A good project manager creates a monthly status report for sponsors and managers. A proactive project manager completes this same status report, but also understands that a status report is the minimum requirement for communicating. A proactive project manager manages communication in the context of an overall Communications Plan. This allows the project manager to proactively determine and fulfill the various communication needs of the project stakeholders.
  • A good project manager identifies risk at the beginning of the project. A proactive project manager identifies risk at the beginning of the project and then manages and monitors risk throughout the project.
  • A good project manager figures out how to resolve issues as they occur. A proactive project manager has an issues management process in place to deal proactively with all major problems when they occur.
  • A good project manager builds a quality solution because of pride and knowing it is the right thing to do. A proactive project manager determines the client's expectations for quality and puts a plan in place to meet that level of quality.
  • Do you see the difference? The merely "good" project manager understands the basic responsibilities of a project manager. The very good, proactive project manager has internalized these project management responsibilities and makes them a normal part of the project work. Proactive project managers don't perform these duties just because they're required. They perform the responsibilities because they understand that these project management processes give them a much better chance for success.

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