It is amazing to me the difference between the way that project management is tought versus the way it is practiced. If you follow the PMBOK, the PM is expected to have quite a bit of influence. If you look at how project management is practiced, it seems that most PM's are just order takers. For instance, in Rita Mulcahy's PMP Exam Prep, she goes over what she has coined as PMI'isms. Some of the key ones are:
- PMI stresses the fact that a project manager must work within the existing systems and culture of the company. They call these enterprise environmental factors and they are imputs to many processes.
- Percent complete is an almost meaningless number. Project managers should not spend time collecting useless ingformation. It is better to control the project and know the status through other actions.
- A project manager has authority and power. She can say "No" and work to control the project to the benefit of the customer.
- If at all possible, all the work and all the stakeholders are identifieid before the project begins.
- The work breakdown structure (WBS) is the foundation of all project planning and should be used on every project.
- Many project managers do not properly plan their projects. Therefore, the work they do while the project work is ongoing is vastly different from what should be done.
- There is a basic assumption on the exam that you have company project management policies (son't laugh, we will get there) and that you will adapt them for use on your projects. These may include project management methodologies, risk procedures, and quality procedures. So, assume you have them when you take the exam.
Many of you may scoff at these suggestions. Here is the key.....Rita is absolutely right! She couldn't be more right! So then why is project management practiced in such a different manner? Most organizations just truly do not understand the profession. Our day is coming. Our day is on the horizon. The day where the project manager can say no, can push back, can be fearless in the delivery of messages.
Until that day comes, you must still try to follow the principles of project management. Why? Because they work! The days of dictating dates and budgets while demanding scope are coming to an end. Companies simply can't continue to operate with the blinders on.
Project managers, do not be afraid! It is ok to push back! It is ok to question the date! It is ok to provide options! I promise......one day you will be heard!