Robert Kelly is the Managing Partner of Kelly Project Solutions. He is also the co-founder and host of #PMChat. I came across Robert in 2012 when he first interviewed me for the #PMChat show.
Project Leaders have an entrepreneurial spirit
Project leaders take ownership of the initiative as if it were their own. They challenge assumptions, consider its sustainability in the market place and look at it from every stakeholder’s perspective and functional group of the company. They consider more than just the triple constraints; they think about the long-term profitability, how it affects the bottom line and if each dollar is being used effectively. They treat it as if it were their own business. – Robert Kelly, Managing Partner, Kelly Project Solutions
Challenge the assumptions
I once took on a project with a company that was a product manufacturer and was tasked to develop the first ‘non-tied’ or ‘stand-alone’ service. Essentially, we wanted to develop a service offering that our customers could purchase without having to buy the product. As we launched the product, every regional executive said that we couldn’t do it. We could only sell the service with the product. Here I was new to the company and senior executives telling me we couldn’t do it. I was ready to set my scope and run with their recommendation when I decided to reach out to some folks in the finance space to understand why this was. After several meetings and pulling in folks from finance, tax, legal and a few others; we were able to identify over 3 dozen countries where we could sell in this ‘stand-alone’ service. It’s so important for project managers to dig into the assumptions, and not get caught up in the mentality of ‘this is how we always did it’. Had I simply run with the initial direction, I would have launched a program in less than half the number of countries and made the firm uncompetitive in this space. What’s more; my first project would have been a loser.” – Robert Kelly, Managing Partner, Kelly Project Solutions
Project managers need to become bold
As a project manager you need to become bold. Your teams may have patented engineers, Sr. Executives and other specialists, but you are the Project Manager. Be bold, drive your meetings and challenge assumptions/dates/dollars. I know that is easier said than done, but if you take time to understand your company and the market they play in, this will be easier. Also, consider brushing up on some finance classes to understand some basic accounting and balance sheets. In addition, you should understand the basics of marketing and sales, as these are the revenue generators of most companies and if you understand their space, then you will better be able to speak out and challenge folks.
I also encourage you to take on projects outside of your core industry, as it will open your eyes to different industries and how project management is applied differently. Mix it up and move from government to private or pharma to manufacturing and get into product development if all you have done is software development. There is a reason companies strive for diversity. There is real value in being able to view challenges and share your personal 'case studies' from that diverse perspective. – Robert Kelly, Managing Partner, Kelly Project Solutions