The ideal scenario in project management is that you have project managers with 20 years of experience who are PMP-certified and could manage anything. But in reality, most project managers are really good at software engineering, hardware engineering, QA, etc. Their reward: being asked to step into the PM role, which is typically seen as a good career move. They aren’t sent away for six months to learn how to be a good PM at PMI, but instead get a four-hour course or, if they’re really lucky a couple of days of training. Then wham! You are now a PM.
This is the reality in most organizations—the PM is thrown to the wolves to figure it out. In a mature organization, they may get support from a project management office, which has processes, procedures, and templates to get started. But being given a bunch of binders to start off is only just a bit more helpful.
One of our customers who has made huge strides over the past year coined a phrase “paint-by-number project management.” They are using a new approach we call a “process map.” It allows the PM to simply select from predefined processes or methodologies and then adjust for their specific project through a Kanban-style board. It is simple to grasp and easy to use, but more importantly, it automates the process of creating the project. It allows the PM to always use the latest best practices and ensure that as the organization’s processes mature, their projects will too.
Perhaps more importantly, it automates the tedious and error-prone parts of project management. The project automatically becomes part of the portfolio, which means the reports happen without all the exporting to Excel, building pivot tables, and then pasting it into PowerPoint to brief the organization’s leaders. This means the PM can focus more of their time on the business of ensuring the actual project work is done correctly.
By leveraging the “paint by number” approach, the organization gets more consistency, the PM has less chaos, and the project team isn’t being nagged to compile briefing information. This approach allows the person who was promoted to the PM position to provide the guidance and leadership the organization saw in them, which drove the promotion in the first place. Being a PM should be tough because you’re solving hard problems and making amazing things happen, not because of the administrative tasks that take far too much time in a typical PM’s day.