Episode 211: Project Management for Non-Project Managers (Free)
This episode is sponsored by The PDU Podcast:
The projects that you and I manage are crucial to implement change within our organizations. To succeed, we routinely depend on the functional managers - the person who runs the department or division, who resolves day-to-day operational issues, and who is responsible for ensuring that the project team has the resources it needs and keeps its goals aligned with the company’s overall strategy and vision.
Unfortunately, there are only few functional managers who speak our language or even have firm grasp on the most fundamental of project processes. Too often, this knowledge gap leads to poor communications, conflict, schedule delays, cost overruns and lost business opportunity.
And who gets the blame? Yup... we do.
To help bridge this gap we are interviewing Jack Ferraro, PMP (www.myprojectadvisor.com) who wrote the book “Project Management for Non-Project Managers”. We discuss the many ways in which functional managers can get involved in project success and we also discuss the four key project management skills that any functional manager needs:
- Articulating the real customer need and business case
- Staying focused on project deliverables
- Understanding your key dependencies
- Being proactive about project risk.
Below are the first few pages of the transcript. The complete transcript is available to Premium subscribers only.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to Episode #211. This is The Project Management Podcast™ at www.pm-podcast.com and I am Cornelius Fichtner. Nice to have you with us.
The projects that you and I manage are crucial to implementing change within our organizations. To succeed, we routinely depend on the functional managers. That’s the person who runs the department or division, who resolves day-to-day operational issues, and who is responsible for ensuring that the project team has the resources it needs and keeps its goal aligned with the company’s overall strategy and vision.
Unfortunately, there are only few functional managers out there who speak our language or even have firm grasp on the most fundamental of project management processes. Too often, this knowledge gap leads to poor communications, conflict, schedule delays, cost overruns and lost business opportunity.
And who gets the blame? Yup! We do.
To help bridge this gap, we are interviewing Jack Ferraro from www.MyProjectAdvisor.com today who wrote the book “Project Management for Non-Project Managers”. We discuss the many ways in which functional managers can get involved in project success and we also discuss the four key project management skills that any functional manager needs:
First of all, there is “Articulating the real customer need and business case.” Second, we have “Staying focused on project deliverables.” Third is “Understanding your key dependencies” and fourth and last, “Being proactive about project risk.”
And now, please stop by any time if you have questions for me. I am a manager with an open-door policy. Enjoy the interview.
Female voice: The Project Management Podcast’s feature Interview: Today with Jack Ferraro, author, speaker and President of My Project Advisor Incorporated.
Cornelius Fichtner: Hello, Jack and welcome to The Project Management Podcast™.
Jack Ferraro: Hello, Cornelius!
Cornelius Fichtner: So we’ve had you on the program before talking about your book “The Strategic Project Leader” and you’re also on our PDU Podcast where you do in fact give the longest of all our presentations on the topic of “The Strategic Project Leader”. And now, we’re bringing you back on because you recently published a new book “Project Management for Non-Project Managers”. It’s published by the American Management Association. So who is this book for?
Jack Ferraro: Cornelius, this book is primarily for business managers or functional managers who find themselves working on projects. These are people that may have a very specific skill set or a very specific discipline that they came out of college with or grad school with but they do not have any formal project management training.
The idea is to give them the basic skills that they need and also give them a call-to-action on why it’s important for them to partner with their provider, in this case, a project manager or a project team to deliver positive results to their organizations.
And it’s also a good book for executives to read the book and realize the importance of having their functional manager skilled at delivering projects because it’s not uncommon for functional managers or business leaders to have management business objectives around projects or completing certain projects.
And I also think it’s helpful for project managers to understand the role of the business leader in these projects and what role these functional managers and business leaders need to play in making sure the project manager facilitates that in the proper way.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! Now, most of the people listening to our discussion here, they are project managers by trade. They manage the projects. They have the knowledge. They have the skills. They have the education to do that. So why should they now continue listening to our discussion here since the book is not really targeted at them? How is it going to help them?
Jack Ferraro: It’s going to help them because what I’ve learned from writing my first book was very much targeted to project managers specifically certified project managers, “The Strategic Project Leader”.
And one of the things I discussed in this book, very early in the book, is that no matter how good you are as a strategic project leader, you can’t do it alone. You have to have help. You have to have a team. Part of that team includes a customer team which is really headed by business leaders or these functional managers. I think it’s important for us as project managers to realize the relationship, this provider-customer relationship which I talked about in the book, the provider being the project manager. The customer being the functional manager and how this relationship needs to work in a very healthy way. I think the more project managers understand this relationship and can help educate their customers as to why certain things need to happen a certain way on a project, I think the overall project organization have a greater likelihood of succeeding.
Cornelius Fichtner: Was the book something that was inside of you that just needed to get out or was this something that the American Management Association approached you so a little bit about the “why” of the book. Why did you write the book there?
Jack Ferraro: Well first of all, I was asked to write the book but I was also asked to come up with different topics. And I really felt that this was an important topic to provide functional managers, this call-to-action.
I have experienced in my own career that when I’ve been successful in executing large projects, there has always been, at the core level, there has been this very strong relationship with my customer, with the functional manager or business leader that has been at the heart of this.
And I’ve noticed that when projects have not been successful, there’s this gap. There’s this void between the provider and the customer. And the motivation for me to write this book was to try to help close that gap and provide that call-to-action really for the business leader to take the steps necessary to move closer to their provider but at the same time giving them the tools, giving them the knowledge and giving them the skills to hold the provider more accountable.
Cornelius Fichtner: Alright! So let’s open up the book and let’s go into the introduction because the introduction, the very sentence in there is as follows: “The most common vehicle for implementing change within an organization is the project.” Would you please elaborate on that?
Jack Ferraro: Absolutely! Change is everywhere. All organizations are dealing with change at a lightning pace. Functional managers or business managers are not immune to this. They may try to be immune to this or they may try to hide from this change but they can’t. They need to embrace this change and they need to be part of the solution to this.
So my goal with that statement is really to get the functional or business leader to understand that things cannot just operate in a normal basis anymore that they have to embrace projects. They have to embrace some level of project management to be successful in their careers. And that ultimately, they are a critical part of driving successful change and it does not all fall on the PMO or the Project Management Office or the project team.
Cornelius Fichtner: Well, we continue through the book. Let’s go to Chapter One where you write that and I quote “Little attention is given to improving the project management skill set of functional managers.” So little attention is given to improving the project management skill set of functional managers. How would you suggest this skill set should be improved?