Project Managers Must Be Realists

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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 often written about the well-recognised traditional project management methodologies such as APM PMQ, PMP and PRINCE2; less so about the Agile and Scrum techniques. But whatever type of method is employed to get a project done an experienced project manager will know that they also have to be a realist. Fresh out of a good training course people are generally fully committed to the ideals of the method they were studying – they will go back to their workplace enthused with new ideas and better ways to make their next project and all future projects more successful.


But it generally doesn’t take long for reality to hit home.


Organisations, clients, stakeholders may be committed to the idea of a structured and controlled way of delivering projects but this ideal does not always fit in with business and external market pressures so project managers have to learn to adapt a technique to suit their real-life working environment.


Resources may be in short supply – both human and financial – and no matter how eloquently and convincingly a project manager can argue for additional resources if they are simply not available then something will have to give in the project.


Or maybe, in reality, senior management are not as supportive of a methodology as they claim to be or a client is not fully involved. In reality there are plenty of factors that can undermine a good project management framework. But the most experienced and successful project managers can take elements from PMP, APM PMQ, Agile, or any other technique, and get them to deliver projects for a particular workplace culture. Different project management techniques are like tools – you need the right tool for the right job but not all tools will work for all jobs. Knowing which technique to use when is an essential project management skill.


So project managers need to be realists, capable or adapting to different projects and different working environments. Being adaptable and knowing which technique, method or process to use when are essential project management skills.

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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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