Friday, September 25, 2009

Why Project Managers are Necessary

I was at a networking event last week, put on by DetroitNet.Org down in Royal Oak, Michigan. It seemed as though every job seeker there was a victim of the downsizing of Detroit's "big three", myself included.

One gentleman I spoke with Scott Sweeder, PMP, said they let him go, because his management said the developers could work directly with the users. When he stated that, he said it with a grin. I looked at him incredulously and smiled. Then his grin broke into smile and then we both started to chuckle....

Now, understand Scott is a seasoned technical project manager, as am I. I've been pulled in to save many many projects that have gone bad. So why do you think 2 senior IT leaders would start to chuckle because management thinks that developers can work directly with the users?

Let me tell you about the last application development project that was run by a developer. It was suppose to be 4 months, a quick little e-commerce site. After 2 1/2 years, it still wasn't completed.

When I started with the company where this project was taking place, the users were complaining that it still had not launched. They complained about the developer, they complained about the vendor providing some of the programming. The developer complained about the users and marketing changing their mind and blamed the users and the vendor and the marketing. Of course, the vendor, blamed the developers and the users and the marketing. The marketing people just wanted it DONE!

I put a project manager on it and in 6 weeks it launched.

A decision to proceed with the project had to have a positive ROI otherwise why do it. But where has that ROI gone when you take the 4 month project that was extended into a 2 1/2 year project and start calculating the costs incurred.
  • The developers salaries over 2 1/2 years
  • The value of the lost opportunity over 2 1/2 years
  • The salaries of the other users, vendors involved over 2 1/2 years
But, the "powers that be" are often oblivious to the fact that developers core competency lies in their abilities to communicate with technology and computers, NOT people. They were trained in how to work computers. They were not trained to communicate with people! Developers are excellent "YES" people. In fact I've had to coach my developers on multiple occasions to NEVER PROMISE the user anything. Because they will if you let them promise the MOON. And this is how a 4 month project turns into a 2 1/2 year project.

So, what's the point? The point is, good Project Managers make it look easy. A 4 month project gets done in 4 months with a project manager, but takes 2 1/2 years without one. A company doesn't lose money by investing in a good Project Manager. Companies lose money when they decide to to without a good Project Manager.

This is why Project Managers are necessary.
What do you think?   Please share your thoughts on this.


Armada Business Consulting, Inc.

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