“What we really need is a stronger project manager who can work with the project sponsors to prioritize their requests for work so I can focus on the most important requests first as well as a project manager that can remove barriers and align peer resources more effectively and efficient to aid in completing that prioritized work.”
Yet, in an alarming number of instances, this is really what they need. If another technical person was added as a peer, sure, some additional work would get accomplished. Without the prioritization and structured sequencing a strong project manager could bring, my argument is the total output of 2 technical people is less than 1 technical person pared with a strong project manager in a medium to large organization. (I don’t have true small/startup company experience, thus I can’t honestly comment on how much output a project manager adds when the company itself is made up of only a few people.)
If you hang around with technical people, they tend to place perceived value of fellow employees based on their interpretation of those employees’ technical competency compared to their own. Software developers tend to rank others based on elegant code output and depth of demonstrated coding experience. Infrastructure engineers tend to rank others based on proven mastery of multiple vendor hardware and operating system platforms as well as the scope of technical career experiences and environments.
My aha moment in appreciating project management was when I experienced the incredible level of increased team output when a highly functioning technical team is paired with a strong project manager. A surprising outcome was the level of mutual respect that grew between these two almost divergent disciplines. Engineers previously commented: “What does that project manager do everyday besides sit in meetings and tell me to do stuff?” Now, teamed with a strong project manager focused on ensuring their project work was prioritized and sequenced based on their feedback, respect for project management grew. The project manager didn’t just look at the technical team as resources on his or her Gantt chart. The project manager saw value in having a stronger project plan and a higher degree of confidence on the dates by spending time with the technical team members to get into their heads and understand what is really takes for them to complete project deliverables.
The results of this effective teaming: true cross-discipline collaboration was witnessed and the results were impressive in both speedy quantity and high quality.
John Bauer (@jfbauer) is an experienced project solution delivery leader working in medium to large size companies that consume rather than produce technology, adjunct professor and is the author of “Midwest IT Survival.com” a blog focused on the lessons learned in leading technical teams focused on project delivery in such non-IT industries.
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Posted by John Bauer