If you have recently selected project management as your career, well done. But a question that always crops up is whether project management is right for you? There is a continually growing market for project management skills, for several reasons:
- Organisations are becoming more project orientated,
- Organisations are looking to improve their project success rates,
- Organisations are recognising the link between strategic ambition and projects,
- As work becomes more global and complex, this drives demand for improved project management.
Project management is not just about being organised. The personality traits of a senior project manager are similar to those of a successful entrepreneur: they take responsibility, they lead and they drive a team to achieve success. Not everyone makes a good project manager. There are many roles within project management though that will suit most people. It is fair to say that those who are most successful in project management work with a sense of urgency so if you are looking for a quiet easy ride, then project management may not be for you!
Some of the more common job titles are listed below complete with a brief explanation:
Similar to an administrator this person performs a support function within a project environment. Some awareness of basic concepts such as risk, issue and change management along with familiarity with project management terms is useful.
Working with a project manager or as part of a project management office (PMO), this person brings the basic skills of project management discipline to project teams. Typically takes ownership for maintaining project risk, issue, change logs as well as project schedule and sometimes cost tracking. This person has a good spreadsheet and planning software skills.
A specialist role found on larger complex projects, particularly capital investment projects. This person is dedicated to updating a complex schedule using PPM software such as Microsoft Project Online. A planner has a keen attention to detail and should understand concepts such as critical path analysis and earned value management.
Responsible for project delivery, this person must drive the project forward to achieve the desired benefits. The job title Project manager is widely used and can mean many different things. Understanding the level of ownership, a particular budget helps clarify the seniority of this role.
This is a senior role with responsibility for achieving strategic benefits through undertaking a set of related projects. The programme manager is likely to lead a team of project managers and will report into senior management.
Of all the roles listed this is the most stable. Projects and programmes can start and end whereas the PMO is a department that forms part of business as usual. The PMO manager will not run projects themselves. Their role is typically to ensure consistency in approach to selecting, planning, running and closing projects.
The PMO will be the conduit for project status reporting, performance analysis and information for senior management. A PMO manager is likely to have very solid project management experience themselves and may at some point return to a project manager or programme manager role.