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Do Project Managers Add Value?

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Hello Readers, Friends, and PM Aficionados, I recently contributed to a Discussion on LinkedIn and wanted to share that response.

The following is a response to the LinkedIn User Group Discussion “Do we need Project Managers? Do they add value? Yes/No. Why?”, Barbara Nowak-Rowe (Certified Project, Program & Portfolio Managers).

To use, or not to use PM. That is a choice for executives. Let’s consider the opportunity costs.

To begin, I would like to piggy-back on Ed Anderson’s answer because I thought it was insightful. In a brain transplant, there may be dozens of people performing different functions to ensure the patient has everything needed during the operation. Given that, would you prefer the endeavor be coordinated and managed with the greatest of care. Or, do you want the hospital staff bumping into one another in a disorganized fashion, figuring things out and responding to problems as they go, working through conflict as you lay there head open, and perhaps stitching you up before all the internal work is performed?

For a one-week, small budget project, a PMI-level framework might not be applicable. However, as Kiron Bondale noted, sometimes “predictability” is a must. Most large projects are a firm’s way of re-investing money back into the business and are intended to achieve results against a firm’s overall strategy. Firms may or may not have the resources necesary to complete selected projects. If not, the PM helps acquire those resources. Regardless of where resources come from, someone needs to tie everyone together (internal and external resources) and that can be extremely challenging to create/maintain the cohesion of resources from a variety of business functions, industries, etc. To add complexity, oftentimes projects will have many frameworks to tie together (Agile, DMAIC, Waterfall, etc.). A PM will use 9 different functions (Knowledge Areas) for managing people, work, and information throughout an entire lifecycle. Years of data show that utilizing project management competencies improve the success rates of projects and their performance.

In summary, Blaine Kruizenga astutely observes that PMs are able to provide the intimacy needed for managing activities, as well as the wide-picture focus required of delivering against the strategy. PM’s ensure that success is ‘Planned’ versus bumping into it. PM’s ensure that project/product quality is done proactively versus reactively. PM’s ensure that information exchange is done in a sensible fashion. PM’s are trained to mitigate risk and to ensure that what was ‘Planned’ is what gets executed, have tools for planning/implementing corrective/preventive action as it is needed, and use change as a last resort. We are the experts in managing people, work, and information and enuring that your ‘Strategy’ becomes a ‘Reality’.

Wonderful question. Thank you for the opportunity to contribute.

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