Minding Your Ps and Qs

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.


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.


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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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