Have you ever asked yourself what makes a good project manager? I know I have. I’ve asked it with respect to good (and bad) project managers I’ve worked with, and I’ve asked it with respect to myself as I manage projects. In conversation with others I’ve batted around obvious talking points like “it’s a combination of the ‘hard’ technical side of project management, plus the softer side of influencing people”. But the best answer I’ve ever seen is in the guide to Project Management for Development Professionals (PMDPro). For me, reading this was a bit of an epiphany. According to PMDPro, project management consists of four competencies (I’m paraphrasing a bit):
- Technical project management – how good are you at scheduling, managing budgets etc.?
- Leadership/interpersonal – how good are you at influencing, communicating.
- Personal/self-management – how good are you at personal time management, organising your won work?
- Domain expertise – how well do you know the area that the project is working in?
I think that this is the best summary I’ve ever seen on the subject. It encapsulates the soft and hard sides of project management, and the balance between being good at managing projects in general and in managing these kinds of projects. This answered that question for me – a good project manager is someone who is good at these four things. And this fitted with my experience: those people who I thought of as good PMs demonstrated excellence in these four competencies. The big revelation for me was the inclusion of self-management. Since reading this I’ve put a lot of effort into improving that aspect of my work, and that for me is the test of a good model – is it useful, and for me this certainly was.