Project Managers. Need some?

Two or three years ago I received a mail that was supposed to be for business managers only.

One of these managers, by mistake, spread an excel file containing the list of employees who did not have an active contract at that time. For those not familiar with consulting, you have a salary but not a job.
I looked into the long list, ignoring names and focusing on the “skills” column.

Most of them were Project Managers, Project planners, Project analysts, Team leaders, Senior project coordinators.
The rest were young testers with little or no experience, young, underpaid and maybe beacuse of that, easier to reintegrate somewhere, somehow.

That was a real trigger in my mind; I looked carefully my business card and for the first time reconsidered my position of Senior Project Manager.
I realized that around me there were Project Managers everywhere.
Funny to say, but in all the projects I was involved in, there were several managers reporting to an “Initiative manager”. It sounded like an army of Generals, but no soldiers. We could prepare a perfect strategy, but for a sudden death.

In the consulting world, it’s quite common to start as a developer, or hardware engineer, or someone who really knows how to do something, and “growing” up to a project management role.
The fact is, that unless you are not managing business (and business is money), you are managing nothing, or barely yourself.
Project management meant doing properly, orderly and methodically the common daily routine.

Yes, yes, I can hear you complaining. You may say I do not know what I am talking about. But believe me, I have also studied those boring PM body of knowledge, and spent long time over expensive PRINCE books in glossy cover paper. I can define project planning and use software tools with ease, assign stakeholder roles and responsibilities, deliver project reports and risk assessment analysis.

I have spent hours in endless conference calls, wrote tons of mails and minutes. I led project to an end.
I have eaten, drank and breathed the so called PROCESS.
I am not saying it’s unnecessary, that’s not the point of this post.

I am just inviting you wondering how this can help you once you fall into an excel cell, in the “waiting for a project” sheet.
Come on, if you are a project manager, and I know you are a good one, just manage to stay away from that risk.

And from time to time, remove your pompous sign and just tell me the practical things you can do better than anyone else.

Good luck


3 responses to “Project Managers. Need some?

  1. Hi Andrea,
    I’m really happy about this post. You wrote exactly what I’ve been thinking from many years… and you know I understand the meaning of “consultancy”.
    I was a “manager”, PMP Certified, fully involved in the project management… Now I’m a “software engineer”: “only a software engineer”? YES, now I want to be exactly that. I’m involved in all projects (as before, when I was a PMP, a manager, a project manager, etc..), I have responsibility about delivery (as before…), I have a team to work with (as before…), but now I’m also a technical leader with some experience to help my company to make the proper choices: now I design solutions. If I’m right, I studied for that, not only for working with Excel and Microsoft Project.
    Everyday it’s necessary to define tasks, to check the project is still in scope, to control how much money we’re spending…. but it’s also necessary to make things.
    The best thing happened it’s that now I have to study a lot about new platforms, new solutions, new architectures.. Today I’m again an engineer… Only in this context I’ve been able to remove (from a lot of time) any kind of sign, because now I know what I am, now everybody understand what I do after few minutes.


    • I loved your feedback, really.
      And I know you tried to be a different manager when consulting.
      Today my role has two interchangeable names: applications consultant and applications engineer. Actually, I think both are necessary.

  2. Hi Andrea, great post as usual. You both are right … the real issue here is that the word “manager” seems to open a lot of doors during interviews: if you are not a “manager”, you are a nobody. I think that, in many cases, we have to focus back on real engineering skills.

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