The Professional's Professional
I was having a conversation the other day with the owner of a recruiting company. We were discussing PMP certification for Project Managers. I don’t have such a certification. It never really came up in all my years of being a Professional Project Manager. When I started, there wasn’t any college classes or companies that provided direction on how to be a proper project manager. I was forced to simply be one sans anyone’s approval except the people I worked with and for. It has been brought to my attention that current project management opportunities in many cases are reserved for those who have the official stamp of approval. I am working on mine.
During this conversation, it was suggested that I might want to look into getting certified in “risk management” to round out my soon to be official ability to manage projects. I was a little taken aback by the very idea that, associated with Project Management, there was also a separate thing for managing risk. I thought that managing risk was paramount to being a project manager. I worry that “they” will add a separate certification for project team selection, scope management and all the other segments for managing a project. I am curious…if a project manager also has a scope manager, a risk manager and a team selection manager, what then do these newly minted project managers do with all the extra free time they would have?
To me, the purpose of having a project manager is to manage the things you don’t want your subject matter experts spending their time doing. The project manager keeps the books, provides the schedule, informs the sponsors and the end users, monitors the risk, manages the scope, facilitates the discussions, keeps the process mapping on track, insures the requirements have been gathered and vetted, holds the SMEs feet to the fire, adheres to the rules, policies and aims of the company, ensures the quality of the output, testing and delivery and makes sure that once the project deliverables are delivered, that the affected business segment is stabilized before leaving. If the team is on the road, the project manager also keeps the people on track, the expenses down and works with the customer to provide a decent working environment. I throw in change management as well. Since the PM has his or her hands in all the moving parts, who better to educate the recipient of what the change looks like?
In my mind, the Project Manager is one of the last vestiges of the generalist. Cost alone should demand it. Efficiency requires it. What use is a team to manage a project? Are we going to have project management managers, with meetings, plans and scopes? Will they need risk managers? It’s as if building a bureaucracy is the new paradigm. When I first started as a PM, I worked alone on the road. It was my job to be the face of my company with the client. They would meet the salesperson and me. I would deliver setup, training, infrastructure, knowhow, risk and scope management, cost control, support and stabilization. I did that using all the skills that now have multiple specialization certifications.
Without those certifications, it is assumed by many companies that I cannot deliver a project. So, I’m going to get me one. One has to spend money to make money. I have to wonder how the keepers of the certifications became relevant. Who certified them? It seems like an opportunity to create a certifier’s certification company that offers a course, conducts a test and charges a fee. I’m pretty sure I could construct a certifier’s test. I could even write the official certifier’s textbook. Then they could have an official plaque as a BCC or Business Certification Certifier. There could be a NBCC and an IBCC for domestic and international. They could add the letters to their resumes.
Phillip J Hubbell, U.P.M. is an uncertified project manager and writer living in the American Midwest.