Minding Your Ps and Qs


I have been thinking a lot lately about all the many IT projects I have previously managed in the oil industry and in the “city” (I hardly dare say investment banking in the current economic climate, even though I was not one of the big bonus earning crowd).


And it seems that the key factor in the success or failure of all of these projects was the strength and personality of the project manager.  When I thought about the attributes of the most successful project managers I have known, I found that many of those that are most vital start with P. So for a bit of fun (with a serious intent) I’ve put together an easy to remember list:


PERSUASION – it is vital that a project manager’s powers of persuasion are well-honed as there will be many instances when they are required. There are bound to be people involved in the project who will need to be persuaded even of the necessity of the project. Others will be reluctant to change but if you can persuade them of the genuine benefits, to them personally, once the project is successfully concluded then you can turn an antagonist into a supporter.


PRIDE – if you can ensure individuals take ownership of their tasks and hence take pride in their work, this will be a major factor in the quality of the final product and so the success of a project. 


PREJUDICE – (I know, I know you’re starting to thinking this is sounding like the title of a Jane Austen novel but bear with me). I often come across prejudice, most particularly if the Project Manager is from outside the department or company. But knowing how to deal with and defuse prejudice is necessary to prevent a “them” and “us” situation developing which is guaranteed to lead to project failure.


PRESSURE – the ability to apply pressure, when needed, in order to meet deadlines, but also the ability to resist pressure from others, such as requests to change scope or reduce resources, whether human or monetary.


PROBLEMS – there will always be problems of some kind irrespective of the nature of the project, so it is simply the way the project manager handles them that is critical to success. Avoiding a blame culture is always a good place to start.


And the Qs are all QUESTIONS – every good project manager should ask lots of questions, over and over again. The danger of not clarifying every aspect of the project is that assumptions are made and they always lead to problems in a project. 


Of course, any decent project manager will have learned their basic skills through good Project Management Training. I almost used the word “formal” but there are a range of Project Management Courses now available to hone your skills, which include online courses and even podcasts. So Project Management Training no longer has to be in a formal classroom setting. The right Project Management Course can turn a bad project manager into a good one, and will transform a good project manager into an exceptional one.