Project Manager… Captain of the Ship… Miracle Maker?

PRINCE2 defines a Project Manager as “the person given the authority and responsibility to manage the project on a day-to-day basis to deliver the required products within the constraints agreed with the Project Board”, which sounds a tad stodgy if you ask me! I prefer something a little simpler and more along the lines of “the individual responsible for controlling change and working minor miracles when called upon to do so”.

Why do you need a Project Manager?

  • Projects running late and over budget
  • Clients not wanting to pay fair value for services delivered
  • Deliverables not meeting expectation

Be warned however, the Project Manager isn’t the solution to every challenge! Even with a captain at the helm, projects can still run into stormy waters. However, there will be less stormy waters and more sunny skies than there would have been, as the Captain (ergo the Project Manager) would have steered the course that would have found a mythical mermaid or two.

Having a plan of delivery is less about having a rigid set of activity, dates and owners (but it can help) and sticking to them like crazy (glue) and more about managing shifting dates, tasks, and owners in order to ensure the most successful outcome for the project. Great project management can even be focused on failing well.  Really… can this be serious??  A great Captain will recognize when the seas are too high and turn back, rather than risk the cargo.

Sometimes it can make sense to actually bring a project to a complete stop if a project or conditions aren’t right for success.  What would cause that to happen?  Any number of things!!  Unclear requirements that mean that instead of building Buckingham Palace you end up with a pile of bricks… runaway costs, sudden cut in budget, an upswing in wholesale prices.  What looks like a simple change in requirements, if not assessed correctly, can potentially have a huge impact.  One of the most important roles of the project manager is to have the clarity and confidence to step back and ask, “Do we need to stop the project?”

Project Manager may need to stop a project at times.