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I'm about to enter a role as project manager. I have attended a lot of projects with quite a span of aspects, constraints, contents, parties and whatever and also had some technical leadership tasks but this time it would be the very first time to receive the label "project manager".

While I'm thinking about it (I have some weeks/months left, it'll be mainly about software and electronics) I oscillate between "this is incredibly difficult, I wasn't aware of that.." and "this is so trivial, what's the deal?".

Actually, the project constraints (time, budget..) have to be met by everyone, so what is the real task despite of having a kickoff meeting, distributing tasks and occasional meetings about the status?

What I especially wonder about are the followings:

  • How do I "make" others do their work? I mean it's ultimately their job but when someone is slow, maybe due to reasons like it's more difficult than expected or whatever, what could a project manager do then?
  • Projects always have some kind of uncertainty and in my opinion it is nearly impossible to check all possible risks and minimize them. I'm especially thinking about some projects in the past which involved chemical experiments (which were quite a hazzle and turned from 2-3 months to 12-18 months..) and also mechanical engineering where single pieces also took way longer due to occupied machines, limitd materials and so on. You can hardly make an external workshop work faster when it's simply not possible and replacing one with another will quite a while to discuss and set up everything so there would hardly be any acceleration.

Wanna' share some minds and/or experiences?

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2 Answers 2

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The essence of project management is:

  1. Something has to get done,
  2. There has to be a way to get it done,
  3. You need stuff--money, time, people, materials--to get it done,
  4. You need to understand and to work around the impediments in your way to get it done, and
  5. You need to know you're progressing or not progressing getting it done.

Everything in project manager flows from those five things and everything you do should directly or indirectly influence those five things in a favorable way.

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  • Thanks for pointing out! It actually reads quite simple, though..? :)
    – Ben
    Dec 27, 2021 at 11:15
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The role of project management varies greatly depending on the kind of project and the environment you work in. I work with software and data where the role of a project manager is often mainly about communication and facilitation rather than giving direction to a team. I believe that's very different to construction and engineering where the PM often has much more of a leadership role.

In technology and knowledge work it's almost inevitable that the team's collective expertise will exceed the expertise of any one non-specialist manager. For that reason, many technical teams will manage themselves and rely on customers / SMEs rather than PMs to make the decisions about what is done and when.

Specifically in the software field, DevOps and continuous delivery techniques mean that most software development tends to happen outside the scope of any project. Product management usually matters more than project management.

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  • thank you! Somehow it makes me think a PM is a (technical) advanced secretary..?!
    – Ben
    Dec 27, 2021 at 15:06

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