Josh’s Interview about Being a Project Manager

A student at Help University College in Malaysia reached out to me to interview her for an assignment.
Interview – By via Flickr
I asked her permission to share the information on the blog. You can also share your knowledge with other project managers who are experienced.
1. What is your greatest challenge as a Project Manager
The details of each project and their environment will determine the specifics. The greatest challenge is to ensure clarity about “what, when and who, why, how, and where” for everyone. This includes the customer, project sponsor, team members, as well as all external and internal stakeholders. My experience shows that most project failures are due to this failure. Most customers don’t know what they want ….. “They’ll know it when they see it.” It is important to uncover unstated requirements. Keep everyone involved so you can get constant feedback so any confusion is cleared up as soon as possible.
2. What is the most critical stage of a project that can decide the success or failure?
Initiation is the most important stage. The project could be doomed if the right project manager has not been assigned or the goals are not achievable. A good project manager will be able to point out inconsistencies and defend the team’s ability to meet the constraints. If a competent project manager was not assigned early, the project could be doomed. This is true for senior engineers and anyone else who should be involved early in a project.
3. How much of the Project Network Plan and Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) are actually used in the actual project?
The WBS is the core of a project. It is used to plan the project and is updated throughout the project’s life cycle to reflect any changes in scope. Once these changes are approved by a good change management process, they ripple out to all scope-sensitive project artifacts such as the basis of estimates, schedule, RAM and so on.
By Project Network Plan, I assume you mean schedule? Schedule is also used extensively throughout this entire project.
4. Please share your thoughts about leadership in working through a project.
There is much debate about the differences between leadership management. My view is that leaders have followers and managers have subordinates. Both are necessary for project management. It is false to say that someone is either a leader or a manager. You can be both.
Leadership in a project can come anywhere. There is no need to have an organizational hierarchy. One engineer could be the leader in a particular technology or topic area; others follow them because they are credible and recognized as experts.
People follow leaders because they want to. A leader is someone who inspires people to follow him or her, regardless of their title or authority. I don’t use my formal title or authority over anyone unless absolutely necessary. My team members should feel like they are part of my team, not just the manager. This is a lot to do with setting an example, encouraging people to take their own decisions and supporting them when they need it.
Some people believe that the PM should take all the major decisions and that the team will carry them out. This is a mistake on many levels. As the project manager, my job is to find the right people and place them in a position where they can shine. I empower people to make decisions. I want the people who are truly the most knowledgeable about a topic to make the decisions. I’m there for them to support and make c