Here are the reasons that lead down the formal project management route. Hopefully, these insights will prove helpful to people awarded project management roles because of their expertise in other areas.
Projects afforded me the opportunity to fix things. All my life I loved to take things apart to see how they worked and then put them back together again. While sometimes the re-built item did not look exactly as it should, the exercise helped me understand how it worked.
Projects are not unlike taking items apart and building them back up again. You have a product or service with a set of parts. You would like to improve this product or service. In the first instance you must understand existing processes. Just like putting something back together again there are limited instructions on how to achieve success. However with projects you need to create a project plan to determine the, (a) what, (b) how, (c) who, and the (d) how much.
As a Project manager I have to deal with constant risk and uncertainty. A bit like a small child constantly asking that often difficult to answer “why” question I normally ask the “what if” question. I find that projects often mirror real life scenarios. We don’t ever know what’s around the corner but we learn to adapt.
I thrive on bringing the best out in people. As a payroll and Information Systems functional specialist, I understand guiding people in a respectful way had a great impact on the project’s outcome. I was fortunate during my career within the HSE to have been mentored by a man with enormous intellectual talent. The payroll manager who became the Systems Accountant had the gift of bringing the best out in people. In hindsight I can see his reasoning in this, as he was the boss over the payroll the newly formed Financial Systems section at that time. One of a project manager’s most powerful skills is the ability to lead a team. While processes and technologies tend to behave in a somewhat predictable inanimate manner, people often do not.
In retrospect, working with people on project teams to achieve successful outcomes as well as helping them grow professionally has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my project management career. I once said about the largest project team I worked with “that my greatest achievement on the project was not my contribution as an expert on the project subject matter but putting the team together. One of the project team members called me aside afterward and said that was the nicest thing that anybody ever said about her professionally. Her career has spiralled upwards since that time.
I believe that my ability to produce a good team was paramount to project outcomes. I have never been slow to point this out to project teams I have worked with. When I was a payroll specialist, I was tasked with creating and implementing a set of project deliverables. I was rarely on a project long enough to see the complete implementation process and final results.
When I became a project manager, I began to see how I had responsibility for the outcomes. The project’s outcomes were more than the successful installation of a process or technology. It had to create a predefined benefit.
The production of visible results from a project can be very exciting. I managed the implementation and rollout of an Integrated Capital Projects information system that saved much stress and anxiety amongst users of the legacy system from the get go. Benefits realisation was immediate. Normally I would have moved to the next project prior to benefits realisation and I often miss that “wow” moment.