Project-Oriented Skills: Support the Profession and the Role | Systemation Blog
Use Metrics to Diagnose Your Project’s Ills
February 3, 2011
Never Care More About Your Project Than Your Sponsor Does
March 18, 2011
Show all

Project-Oriented Skills: Support the Profession and the Role

Many job fields have professional designations; doctors, lawyers, accountants, realtors, etc. The same goes for project-oriented skills. The Project Management Institute certifies project managers, The International Institute for Business Analysis certifies business analysts, and The Scrum Alliance certifies agile developers. The organizations that certify these professions have standards that define in great detail all the terminology, processes, and skills for their disciplines; the best practices the experts must know.

These professional designations are a means of separating those who have the expertise from those who do not. Companies often invest heavily to have their employees trained and certified in different professions to establish a standard for professional development or to establish credibility in the workplace and out in the market.

On medium and large size project teams it is not unusual to find multiple individuals with one or more of these designations because larger projects are critical to a business’ success and are very costly. Having certified professionals on these large project teams gives the project a much better chance of producing the desired results. For companies, the return on investment to develop employees and get them certified is definitely warranted.

What about smaller projects that don’t require certified professionals but do require individuals to perform the role of those professions? As you know, organizations have many more small projects than medium to large ones. That means there are lots of project leaders on these smaller projects with the responsibility of all three roles (project management, requirements management, and iterative development) residing squarely on their back; however, these sturdy individuals do not always get the support they need to perform better. The biggest reason for this is that unless you are pursuing an expertise in something, your efforts are not considered worthy of attention or investment.

Organizations can’t afford to continue with this mindset as work trends indicate an increase in smaller projects in the future. Project management, requirements management, and iterative development roles in these projects will need the attention and support of management. To support these project leads in their roles a methodology has to be developed, training needs to be provided, and expectations need to be set. Let’s look at each of these areas of support.

The methodology that needs to be developed can’t look exactly like what is already in use by the certified professionals. This will only overwhelm project leads and send them running for the hills. Consider the following four things when developing a joint role methodology. It has to be:

  1. Referable: has some relationship to the formal professions. A common langue helps accelerate the maturation process up and down the organization.
  2. Malleable: blends all three roles (project management, requirements management, and iterative development) into one. The certified professionals have very distinct boundaries between them that cause confusion. This has to be avoided.
  3. Congruent: aligns with the individual’s natural work style. Most non–certified professionals have a different work style based on their level and function. It is best to err on the less formal side of things.
  4. Practical: easily applied in the real world. If it is going to be accepted and followed it has to be valuable in the project lead’s day-to-day work world.

With a good methodology the training and coaching requirements are much less than what the certified professionals require. People who find themselves in this multi-role environment should experience a low incline learning curve. A few days of training, some take away tools, and a couple hours of coaching will get them on the road to success.

When it comes to expectations of performance for these project leads you can set them just as high as for the certified professionals. This is because the complexity found in medium to large projects is not present in the smaller ones. Go ahead and push them to produce strong results in the three roles as long as you have given them the methodology and training they require.

You’ve got the right level of attention and support for the certified professionals. Now is the time to bump your level of support for those employees performing the same roles and doing so without a safety net.