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Is the Project Manager the jack-of-all-trades?

Did some of the project management associations and organizations screw up the role of the project manager?

Are they (or some of them) making the role of the project manager as the jack-of-all-trades and the master of none?

Or, are some of these organizations confused about the role of the project manager and cannot make up their mind of what this role is about.

We raise these questions because quite often we observe a confusion in the professional project management community, on the role of the project manager, among other things. Even in some of the standard documents and literature we see this confusion. The same in certifications.

What are we talking about?

When one reads these various literature, one might think on a given project there is only the project manager, the sponsor, “team”, and “stakeholders. However, who are the members of the team and how does that relate to stakeholders to the project manager.

Reading these resources, one might think that:

  • the project manager decides on the project life cycle,
  • the project manager writes the charter,
  • the project manager is the one who does the project estimating,
  • the project manager plan the project, schedule the project, and
  • the project manager does the scope and WBS,
  • the project manager handle quality, and
  • The project manager, in short does it all. In other words, the project manager IS the project management team, and almost the project team. Basically, she is a technical – do-it-all person.

On the other side, in recent trends, we see organizations (and professional associations) talking about:

  • the project manager is responsible for the project objectives,
  • the project manager must be business oriented,
  • the project manager should be able to handle benefits realization, and so many other things.

Where are the other stakeholders?

Those who are involved in the project management team? Do professional and certificate holders from outside engineering / construction / capital project industry know there is something called PMT? For more information about project stakeholders, refer to an earlier blog post on this subject.

PMT? What is that?

PMT = Project Management Team. It is in the PMBOK Guide, have you noticed it? It is even shown graphically in the guide, have you noticed?

What is the PMT? These are the project management subject matter experts responsible for managing the projects – yes, managing the project. Of course, under the direction of the Maestro – the project manager. In mature organizations, the project manager does not estimate, schedule, decide on the project life cycle, define scope, decide on the quality standards, and many other things. It is often that the project manager is not competent in these tasks. It is critical that the PM understand these things and what is required but she does not have to be the person doing the scheduling in MS Project or other tool.

Conclusion

For projects to succeed, we need better awareness on the role of the project manager, versus all other stakeholders, specifically the project management team. If the project manager is going to be the jack of all trades – then she cannot be the master in managing the project.

Some might say – but some projects are too small to require a team. Well, this is why we need organizational project management and the same way a PM could be part time managing multiple projects, we could have scheduler handling multiple projects, project control handling multiple projects, and so on.

Maybe we can elaborate more in a future article.

What do you think?