What everyone needs to know about project management

Evaluating project managers

Performance management depends on performance evaluation.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. As Peter Drucker correctly points out, this is why organizations are needed: to help apply strengths to the work and to compensate for weaknesses. How can this insight be applied to improve the performance of project managers?

Beyond pass/fail evaluations.

Project managers could be divided between those who are effective in their current projects and those who are not. But what determines whether or not a project manager is effective? Given that each project manager has strengths and weaknesses, a project manager will be effective if strong in the areas that require that strength. Strengths or weakness in other areas won't matter as much. This goes a long ways toward explaining why a strong project manager may unexpectedly fail when given a new project. The project may require a different set of strengths.

Saying that someone is a "good" (or "strong", or "effective") project manager usually means that the manager has performed well in prior projects. But weren't those successes partly a result of being assigned projects that matched the project manager's skills? And more importantly, was that successful matching a matter of luck or of skill?

Selecting the right project manager (with the right set of skills) is vital to the success of the project. Simple Project Management provides a checklist of project management tasks that must be done. Managers can use the list to evaluate the requirements of the project and the skills of the project manager. For example, the project may require a project manager who is strong at identifying customer expectations or at controlling changes to scope.

Extending the range.

But we can take this another step further. With a detailed understanding of the project management skills required for effectiveness, the manager can extend the range of projects that his or her project managers can complete effectively. If the manager knows, for example, that his or her project manager is not strong on defining scope, the manager can provide the specific assistance needed to compensate for that specific weakness.

Self evaluation.

These three benefits: evaluating performance, matching project managers to their project's requirements, and extending the range of a project manager's effectiveness are only part of Simple Project Management's benefits. It also provides Project Managers with a tool to monitor and improve their own effectiveness.

Project managers need to understand what is expected of them. Many (if not most) project managers don't have a clear grasp of the total requirements of their job. (This observation is based on evaluation of and discussions with thousands of project managers.) Unfortunately this includes even well trained ones, the overall picture can get lost in the details of classes, certification programs, and software packages. Simple Project Management can help them identify and address their own weaknesses.

How to gain these benefits?