If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you either are a project manager or you work closely with one. And it’s probably not a secret that project managers are often seen as the type of people who are rigid and overly concerned with following processes and sticking to the plan. This popular YouTube video makes fun of the jargon that project managers tend to use.
Whereas it’s true that project management professionals spend time making others accountable for their tasks—which can be annoying if you’re the recipient—it’s their jobs to do so. PMs have to keep track of tasks, deliverables, benefits, milestones, actions, resources, stakeholders, changes, risks, issues, deadlines, costs, benefits, and time. Not a small feat! Imagine the state the project would be in if they didn’t chase! So why not give project managers some well-earned credit?
Here are 10 reasons to be thankful for our project managers.
1. They push for results.
Although project managers may be pushy, they push for a good reason. They’re responsible for ensuring that the project produces results and value to the customer and their business. Without their continued drive and energy, the project would almost certainly derail and never deliver what the client asked for.
2. Project managers are great taskmasters and planners.
Project managers are excellent at organizing a large set of tasks and activities into a practical plan with phases, milestones and deliverables. Their true talent is not in their ability to create a project plan, but in the skill of continually adjusting it based on changes and information from the team, so that the project can deliver the best possible outcome.
3. They take care of all the boring tasks.
Project managers typically take care of the administrative tasks that no one else likes to do. They are often the ones who track timesheets, sign off invoices, update or prioritize the plan, write progress reports, create agendas, track action items, schedule meetings, update the risk log, and write meeting minutes. Each item may be small, but added up they amount to a lot to admin that’s being taken care of.
4. They look after the finances.
For the most part, the project’s team members don’t have to worry about the finances. They fill in their timesheet, help estimate the work and stay accountable for their tasks. Project managers will do the rest. They compile the estimates, present it to the client, track expenditure, sign off expenses, update the business case and answer to the client for all matters relating to the budget.
5. They build great teams.
Great teams don’t come about by chance. They come about when the right people are selected for the right kind of jobs, and when the right manager nurtures and leads the team in the right kind of way. Granted, not every project manager is a great people manager when they first start out, but they develop and learn how to build a great and highly skilled team over time.
6. They act as ambassadors and protectors for the team.
Many people don’t realize how much project managers care about their teams and exactly how much they go out of their way to promote their team’s work and protect a team member. When confronted by a stakeholder they take the blame and seek to shield the team from criticism, undue requests and distractions. They act as an emotional buffer between the team and the client. (Feeling grateful yet?)
7. They make sure all risks are under control.
We all know that risks have the potential to severely derail a project. Sometimes, as we all know too well, an issue appears out of the blue. No one spotted it as a risk and therefore nothing was done to prevent it from happening. To prevent this from happening, project managers spend a lot of time considering all the variables that could go wrong. It’s not that they like being overly pessimistic, it’s just that the success of the project depends on it.
8. Project managers ask the difficult questions.
Project managers are excellent at asking the hard questions. They ask how things fit together, how long a task will take, how we can test that it’s been done, who knows most about it, how we can develop things faster, and how the product will support the clients business. Asking challenging questions takes courage, and project managers continually prove that they have just that.
9. They circulate information to make sure everyone communicates.
On many projects there’s a tendency for team members to get absorbed in their own specialist areas without considering the impact on dependencies. Project managers bring people together, break down silos and ensure that everyone shares their discoveries and challenges. They identify dependencies and ensure that there’s transparency around what everyone is working on—improving teamwork all around.
10. Project managers have been instrumental in delivered some amazing projects.
Consider some of the biggest projects in history and how much effort went into planning them—from major sporting events and big public buildings to landing a man on the moon. All these projects have been the result of good engineering combined with great project management. It was the project management effort that pulled it all together and kept the project on track.
In conclusion, it’s easy to criticize project managers for being too concerned with processes and chasing outstanding actions. But when we examine what project managers do in more detail we come to understand that really, there is a lot to be thankful for. Thanks, PMs!
Tell us what you’d like to thank your project manager for.