Project Management — How to Choose the Right Project Manager
Approach. Skills. Experience. Methodology. Frameworks.
Choosing the right individual, team or organization to deliver projects for your business is essential to your future growth and success. Entrepreneurs, business owners, and other stakeholders should know what to look for when deciding who should manage their projects.
Projects are an essential part of a successful business. Because projects are designed to develop new products, services or processes, it’s vital that they are managed by individuals or teams that have the right level of skills, experience, and expertise. Whether you’re using an internal project manager, hiring a specialist firm, bringing in a consultant or taking on a contractor, it’s important to know what to look for. In this article, we’ll explore the key areas that you should insist on to find the right person or organization to run your projects.
Important areas include:
- A proven track record
- Areas of expertise
- Qualifications and methodologies
- Reassurance of work quality and guarantees
- Details of project services that are included, before during and after project delivery
A proven track record
One of the best indicators of future success in project management is projects that have been successfully delivered in the past. You will want to establish:
- The type and size of projects that have been delivered previously.
- Whether the projects were delivered to time, budget, quality and requirements (scope).
- Any significant risks or issues that the projects ran into and how they were resolved.
- How the project dealt with stakeholders and other interested parties.
Areas of expertise
Certain project managers or organizations will specialize in certain types of project, sectors or industries. It will be helpful if you can identify:
- The type of projects that have been delivered previously (e.g. prototyping, construction, IT delivery, infrastructure).
- The sectors that the projects have been delivered in (e.g. biotech, medical, retail, financial, tech).
- Resources and understanding of particular industries and sectors.
Qualifications and methodologies
The framework used to deliver a project can vary between the type of project and the people involved in making it happen. Certain methodologies are better suited to some types of projects than others, and you’ll want to be confident that a project manager and their team have the right level of training and experience. This could include but not be limited to:
- Traditional (Waterfall) project delivery — A standard, phased project moving from inception through requirements gathering, analysis, design, build, test, implementation, and closedown — This is ideal for large, ongoing projects that need a high degree of control.
- Agile project delivery — Iterative projects based around repeatable project cycles that make rapid improvements to products and services over time — This is ideal for smaller projects involved in rapid development and getting products and services to market as quickly as possible.
- Six Sigma project delivery — Business process design and improvement based on strong data, analysis, and measurable improvement — This is ideal for projects specifically focussed on designing and improving business processes.
The role of the project manager
Reassurance of work quality and guarantees
If possible, try to get some reassurances and guarantees of project delivery and quality built into a formal understanding with the project manager and their team. This could include:
- Bonuses if the project is delivered on or ahead of time, budget, quality and scope.
- Penalties if the project is delivered late, over budget or not to the right quality or requirements.
- Regular tracking and reporting on progress.
- Excellent management of risks, issues or other areas that could impact on the delivery of a project.
- Communications to keep everyone involved in a project informed, including internal teams, business stakeholders and other third parties.
Details of project services that are included, before during and after project delivery
It’s important to understand exactly what will be included in the project management service; areas to consider include:
- Preliminary work such as business requirements gathering, forecasting, high-level planning, business case analysis, and business value measurement.
- Ongoing administration such as providing reporting, tracking, and communications, attending meetings and involvement in a department’s day-to-day activities.
- Project management work such as detailed planning, resource management, allocation of tasks, relationship management, risks, and issues mitigation and more.
- Project testing such as troubleshooting, ‘what if’ scenarios and introduction into the production environment.
- Project closedown such as a complete project review, lessons-learned, and final project analysis.
If you are able to cover most of these areas and satisfy yourself and your business that a project management function can meet these needs, you can be relatively confident that the right people are in place to deliver the project. Ultimately, a project does need careful ongoing management, tracking, and sign-off to make sure that everything progresses smoothly, but this is a good starting point.
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