Project Management, sometimes termed "the accidental profession," is still undergoing a process of being defined and universally understood.
The role and responsibilities of a project manager suffer the fate of simultaneously being:
- Very well-defined. Read through your favorite Project Management standard and you'll likely see that the job of a project manager is clearly and unambiguously stated.
- Misunderstood. Read through a few job descriptions for open 'project manager' jobs. It won't take long before you see that some job descriptions list business analysis, technical writing, software authoring, or testing as part of the project manager job. (These, of course, are roles that are distinct from that of a project manager.)
- Defined by the situation. The responsibilities of a project manager are not inherent in the title 'project manager.' If you change from one project to another, or from one company to another, you'll find that your job as project manager is defined for that specific situation. In some organizations or companies, there is a job of "project manager" but the roles and responsibilities for that position are undefined.
- Unrelated to any standards or body of PM knowledge. Those PM classes that you took and those standards that you've learned don't seem to have any practical application in some organizations or companies.
- Overly bureaucratic. Project management has mutated into a pure administrative activity that relies heavily upon mandatory documents or ceremony that add little value. There is no recognition of the value a project manager's adds by applying judgment as they manage a project.
- In transition. Listen to any prominent proponent of agile methods and you'll learn that there is no need for a project manager in a self-directed team. (There are roles in agile teams that seem to perform a small number of the traditional project manager jobs, but don't be fooled into thinking that those roles are just a re-naming of a familiar project manager role).
It is surely a confusing time to be a project manager with so much inconsistency and misunderstanding about project management and the role of a project manager. This section on Project Management will help provide you with a means of organizing the plethora of project management practices that have inundated you and clear up some of the confusion about "traditional" project management and "agile" project management. Here, you will find:
- PM Life Cycle: A straightforward way to view the Project Management Life Cycle.
- Applying the PM Life Cycle: Yes, this model works for all projects: waterfall, interative, agile, etc.
- Key PM Phases: Notes on Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing a project.
- Valuable PM Sites: PM standards information, published PM Life Cycles and much more.