Project Management is Not Enough

WRITTEN BY Mike Cottmeyer

Are you a software project manager? If so, your job is changing. It is no longer enough to keep the risk list up to date. It is not enough being the person to schedule the meetings and do the minutes. Knowing how to calculate earned value and critical path is the price you pay to even call yourself a project manager.

Great project managers take those skills for granted. Great project managers are defined by how well they lead their teams. Great software project managers establish context. They create organizational alignment and guide their projects toward successful project outcomes. Great project managers focus on team building, they open lines of communication, they trust people, respect and empower them, and maintain sufficient control to hold everyone accountable for project outcomes.

In my experience, project managers tend to look at themselves in one of two ways. Some PMs want to be at the center of the project, in control of everything, in the middle of every decision. Like the illustration on the right, they try to be the center of the wheel with all team members connecting through them.

Others lead from the boundaries, they create the context. They establish the parameters of the project, the outer limits. They trust the project team to deliver the desired outcomes within those limits. These project managers build teams, get them what they need to be successful, and remove any barriers that could stand in their way. The project manager on the left is intentional about creating and maintaining connections between team members and acting as the buffer to the rest of the organization.

Traditional project management tends to focus more on the science of project management and less on the leadership and team aspects. Agile can sometimes focus too much on the softer side. It’s my view that the process driven, scientific side of project management should be a given. That is your ticket in the door. Its time we start hiring great project leaders. It’s up to us to get serious about becoming great leaders.

Otherwise, don’t call yourself a project manager.

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2 comments on “Project Management is Not Enough”

  1. Mike Cottmeyer

    Thanks for the heads up. On one hand imitation is the best form of flattery. On the other…

    Reply