Meeting the Needs of the New ‘Non-Project Manager’
Since many managers, executives, and senior staff don’t see themselves as project managers they are leery of training and processes that are bloated or designed for IT, construction, or engineering projects. And they absolutely reject training designed for passing the PMI PMP exam. The keys to successfully addressing this audiences fall into two categories: A) translating the jargon of project management; B) scaling the discipline to fit smaller, less complex projects. A Chief Learning Officer at a financial services firm described it this way,“My accidental project managers need to understand the key principles without slowing down all their projects with too much process.”
A. Translating the jargon of a complex discipline can be easier than you’d think. Ask anyone who’s been on a project team what makes a project successful and you’ll hear a pretty consistent theme: common goals, a plan of action with clear responsibilities, and regular communication. That makes sense to anyone. Continue to frame the tools of project management in the context of their projects and these business people will soon appreciate visualizing the sequence of events and keeping a list of current problems – also known as a critical path schedule and an issues list.
B. Scaling the discipline to fit part-time and less complex internal initiatives follows a similar strategy. Focus on the key success factors – clear goals, an action plan, team communication – and limit the discussion and the standards to those factors. Carefully tracking scope changes may be absolutely critical on a construction project, but it just isn’t practical for a part-time, two month effort to revamp an HR policy, so leave it out.
Although the Organizational Development and Training teams are organizing the training at Crowley, Jennifer says the demand for the skills comes from the people running the business. "They came to us. Then the word spread." Crowley chose Versatile's two-day Principles of Project Management Workshop. "It is a refresher for those who have experience so they are up to speed with current best practices, for others it was their first experience. I spoke to people who were worried about being overwhelmed because this was their introduction to project management. They said it was fast-paced with a lot of information but it was well balanced. It made a big difference that they applied the topics to Crowley projects in class. It made everything relevant."