A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the new Program Management credential from PMI
. In it, I referenced PMI's definition of a program manager vs. project manager in their FAQ page
A project manager, according to PMI, has the following responsibilities (I've put some of the key points that jumped out at me in bold):
- Perform their duties under general supervision and are responsible for all aspects of the project for the life of the project
- Lead and direct cross-functional teams to deliver projects within the constraints of schedule, budget and resources
- Demonstrate sufficient knowledge and experience to appropriately apply a methodology to projects that have reasonably well-defined project requirements and deliverables.
A program manager, according to PMI, has the following responsibilities (again, I've bolded the key points):
Under minimal supervision, program managers are responsible and accountable for the coordinated management of multiple related projects directed toward strategic business and other organizational objectives. These programs contain complex activities that may span functions, organizations, geographic regions, and cultures. Program managers build credibility, establish rapport, and maintain communication with stakeholders at multiple levels, including those external to the organization.
Clearly, a program manager must be closely tied to the strategic goals and benefits, monitor the program accordingly, and have a strong connection to senior management. And I also feel that the new credential seems on the surface to set the bar appropriately high.
But I can't help but feel that, in contrast, the PMP credential is losing steam. First, there are myriad organizations virtually guaranteeing an "instant-PMP" after a crash course and some tweaking of one's background experience (although PMI is now doing audits of work experience).
Second, a project manager must, in many cases, go beyond the PMP/tactical focus and possess the same traits and skills that PMI has designated as requirements of a program manager, especially in the case of an enterprise and/or global project, such as a business transformation effort. I realize PMI's role definitions are a way to differentiate and justify the new certification and I suppose one could organize their effort into a "program" to qualify for that certtification, but in these changing times (and with greater challenges for project managers), I think PMI needs to evaluate and revamp the PMP certification as well.
When I do presentations on principle-based leadership training, I have a slide where I present what I call "The PM Challenge." I present it as a boxing match. In one corner, we have a project manager, armed with MS/Project and the PMBOK, but lacking:
- Business Acumen
- Leadership Skills
- Conflict Management Skills
- Negotiation Skills
- Presentation Skills
- Communication Skills
- Strategic Intuition
In the other corner, we have the "challenger," represented by "the project," with the following characteristics:
- Global, virtual team
- Complex technology
- Complex change
- Multiple vendors
- Offshore resources
- Conflicting Stakeholders
- Scrutinizing Executives
Such a project manager, without the appropriate leadership and soft skills, doesn't stand a chance. Wouldn't a person with the skills PMI describes as a "program manager" be more apt to have success?
In the latest PM Network magazine from PMI, there are not one, but TWO articles that illustrate this point. One is titled "Project Management 2.0: Project Management is at a Crossroads," by Peter Fretty. The other is titled "No Limits," by Marcia Jedd, and talks about what project managers must do to crash through the glass ceiling and elevate it from the tactical trenches.
Perhaps a start would be to take a new view of project management beyond just "executing to a set of requirements to deliver on-time and on-budget." The current tactical focus might explain the consistent failure rates of projects. One problem is that PMI has traditionally "followed common good practices in the field," which of course is what a standard is supposed to do. The problem is that common practices have brought common results, which aren't all that good. Time for an upheaval. Perhaps they need a section, apart from the "standard" itself, for "new frontiers in project management," which could outline those who are breaking the mold with good results.
I'd be interested in others' thoughts on this topic. Who knows---It just might help drive requirements for the next version of the PMBOK and/or PMP credential.
Labels: business-acumen, business-case, business-results, certification, change-management, course, global, it-project, knowledge-management, leadership, managing-conflict, methodology, pmi-project-management-institute, pmp-project-management-professional, principles, program-management, project-failure, project-manager, project-schedule, project-teams, results, training