Project Management Insights: Don’t Keep Falling for These Project-Management Myths
In an industry that claims innovation and technology are necessary, welcomed and respected, it’s counter-intuitive and unprogressive to hold onto myths—especially regarding project management. Perhaps you or a colleague are steadfast in agreement of the following common myths; I’m offering an alternative viewpoint for consideration and change.
Myth: Clients only want to work with a principal of the firm.
I often see firm leaders stall the promotion of team members to project manager (PM) or prevent them from truly performing the role because they believe clients will refuse to work with anyone but a principal. But leading a company or division and managing projects and clients will become too much for even the most energetic and talented principal. Clients understand leaders need to focus on the business and can’t get caught up in the day-to-day intricacies of a project. They will rightfully expect, however, the PM to provide the same level of service and attention as a principal.
Myth: All project team members need a project title.
When we talk about project hierarchy, we understand there’s a sponsor, a principal and a PM. We often use their proper name and title interchangeably, as we know what those roles entail. After that, things get fuzzy, and firms get creative making up tiers so people feel important. Not everyone assigned to a project requires a title that validates their position on the team. They do need a set of responsibilities, and the entire team needs to know who is doing what so everything is covered. In most organizations, among teammates who meet regularly to discuss the project, few will remember the titles that were doled out but instead associate names and faces with tasks and project obligations.
Myth: More project-management training is a worthwhile strategic objective.
Providing training on project-management tenets and essential skills is a good, ongoing practice to grow the team, but it isn’t strategic. If you’re soon headed into your annual business planning session, a more-aggressive objective would be to shape the firm’s project-management process to provide an actual competitive advantage. This doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen without some serious creativity and dedication, but project management is a business function that requires leadership and planning similar to that for human resources, marketing, IT, accounting or operations.
Myth: The quality of our drawings has improved because we have a dedicated QA/QC person.
Quality control alone doesn’t improve the quality of drawings over time; it simply catches mistakes before someone external, such as a client or contractor, finds them. Having someone at this project stage is ideal, because they offer a fresh set of eyes and can dedicate time for a solid review. So who or what is doing the quality assurance? Everyone on the project team is responsible for quality assurance. Unless the team knows the level of quality it must produce, and produces it with personal ownership, then the QC person will be very busy.
Myth: There has to be a “lesson learned” in every project.
Active-learning organizations excel at acquiring and transferring knowledge. Whether this is a conversation among colleagues in a five-person firm or a presentation conducted with dozens of team members conferencing in, they share insight to leverage it later. However, it’s possible to overdose on lessons and waste valuable time trying to find something to improve upon after every project experience. If the project was executed smoothly, enjoy it and move on to the next project. It probably means the team implemented prior lessons and used new knowledge. Practice of this type is just as important.
Be open-minded to see the project-management world a little differently or encourage your colleagues to do so. It usually takes a few rounds to play out before skeptics begin to shake the myths they hold; but the conversation can start here.