Will the Real PMP Project Managers please stand?

by Lakecia Carter, PMP

PORTFOLIOA few people asked me an interesting question that stuck with me all week. The question was, “Is what I’m doing ‘real’ project management?” They ranged from junior level to experienced consultant project manager. They explained that they were performing tasks that added very little value. They felt that they had no influence or authority over the outcomes. As a project manager working in a matrix environment (without ownership of resources), I have experienced the same feelings. While I never questioned the authenticity of my role, I realized that my identity as a PM and my role could be very different, depending on the project needs. I shared the same advice with them to encourage them to keep pressing forward.

The question poses another concern that somehow the definition of project management has become lost. I think there are a few contributing factors:

  1. Project management value is in the eye of the beholder. An organization’s culture and project management maturity level can influence how the organization views your role and the value you bring. In some organizations, our PMP status is highly regarded and in others, it doesn’t mean as much. Many people judge project managers based on their last experience with one – good or bad. With so many different definitions, it is difficult to know which one you are being measured against.

  2. Everyone is a project manager.  These days, if you have any job function whatsoever, you are labeled as a project manager. This became very clear when I was in the market looking for a job. I was shocked by the number of project manager positions that had very little to do with managing a project!

  3. Non-PMs who require PM skills continue to rise. I work with many analysts, functional experts and technical gurus who are expected to manage projects. Although this is a popular trend and many are successful at it, it isn’t always the most efficient and effective way to leverage resources.

PMP project managers have a great opportunity amidst the confusion to stand up and stand out! Not only can we show our stakeholders what real project management is, we can redefine it for those who need a fresh perspective.

Could it be that the only definition of real project management is through us? What are we representing? Note taker, Template master, and List checker? Or Influencer, Leader, Problem-solver, Success enabler? The real choice is ours.

If you found these tips from Lakecia Carter, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.


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