Job Title or Not, You’re a Project Manager

pm765066Last night I was talking to a friend who is opening a restaurant. I am trying to help him, and at this point I am gathering requirements for him, as I feel he missed that important step.

He is planning the menu but does not know demographic information about the people in the area. He wants to have a pool table there but is unsure how to make that happen. There were so many things he needs to do, and nothing is organized or thought out.

So, I started giving him advice on what to do based on how I handle projects at work. It became clear to me that if he is going to take on this project, he needs to understand what he is getting into, including the risks, the steps to make it all happen, and plans for when things change. I am sure he never thought of himself as a project manager, but that is really what he is, and without some education, his success could be limited at best.
Basically every activity is a project as long as it has a beginning and an end.

PMI says a project is “a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service, or result.”

PMI goes on to explain that a project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time and, therefore, a defined scope and resources. A project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but it is a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal. So a project team often includes people who don’t usually work together. Sometimes they are from different organizations and across multiple geographies.

In our project management classes, most of the people have titles other than “project manager.”

It’s been said that 37% of projects fail, and 62% of IT projects fail. What’s the problem? Do people who are working on IT projects not fully understand project management?

Per PMI, project management processes fall into five groups:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

And the knowledge areas fall into 10 groups:

  1. Project Integration Management
  2. Project Scope Management
  3. Project Time Management
  4. Project Cost Management
  5. Project Quality Management
  6. Project Human Resource Management
  7. Project Communications Management
  8. Project Risk Management
  9. Project Procurement Management
  10. Project Stakeholders Management

Processes overlap and interact throughout a project. Knowledge areas contain some or all of the project management processes. We may not all think about all of these when working on informal projects like planning a birthday party or even opening a restaurant, but, whether we do the steps ourselves or delegate some of them out, they’re there.

In the work environment, we may not work on all of these project processes, but it may help to understand why they are there and how they work together. Getting a better understanding of how the work you are doing fits into the project as a whole may help you with your portion.

My title is not “project manager”, but I work on and manage projects every day. That is the case with many of us: we may not think of ourselves as project managers, but we are. ☺

Related Courses
IT Project Management
PMP Exam Prep Boot Camp
Project Management Fundamentals

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  1. Debra Ware Reply

    In K-12 Education we call it committee work or task force work but is a project just the same.

  2. Sri Reply

    Nice article

  3. Randy Grein Reply

    Thank you for stating what has been kept too quiet, especially in IT. I started managing projects years ago, and while most have been small the formalization has really helped keep them on track. Since then I slowly realized that project management was part of many other jobs I’ve had, even if the lists, steps and timelines were kept in my head.

  4. Loreto Thompson Reply

    Very good article. It is important to point out, however, that project management is not necessarily part of IT. In fact, IT may be part of a task force chaired by Project Management or Product Management–separate disciplines that work together to create and deliver a product, service, etc. When it comes to product management, however, not only these folks create and deliver the product/service to marketing/sales but contine to own it until the become obsolete.

  5. Eric Magers Reply

    Nicely put,
    As a Project Manager, customers I work for are amazed, and think I’ve been reading their mind, when it seams that I have all ready taken care of their needs before they ask. When in actuality a good PM is not so much concerned with the activities currently going on, but is putting into motion the activities that will be needed two weeks out. Oh yes, and don’t ignore or put a side the little details, take care of them as they crop up.
    Closing a project out is one of the most challenging duties. This is when all those little things you have been ignoring will come tumbling back to you in a great big ball. I’ve seen projects with good PM’s on them loose money at the closing due to this.
    I have always said, “anyone can start a project, but few can finish one”

  6. James Keith Reply

    Food for thought.

    Project Management is often called the accidental profession. I was lured into the profession under the guise of being a product analyst then a product development analyst then a business analyst and finally, ta,da a Project Manager. How in the world did this happen? Where did I go wrong? Why Me?!?

    Well, if you must know, in retrospect, I couldn’t have “planned” it any better. Having developed the core competencies in both the “business” and “product” arenas has positioned me quite nicely to assume the role of Project Manager.