Professional manager practice

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13Professional Manager Practice

PROFESSIONAL MANAGER PRACTICE

Introduction

Project Management (PM) skills suffice to be a basic necessity for almost all professionals. In fact, the increasing necessity for PM has compelled universities and other institutions of higher learning to incorporate PM into their core units to prepare the graduates to handle future projects effectively. However, the modern professional environment necessitates the consideration of PM as a career choice rather than a mere toolkit that is generic in nature (de la Campa Ahedo & Schwenke 2015). Professionalising PM is worthwhile to project managers following the expansion of education programmes. Moreover, the transition of PM from being a mere toolkit in the traditional working environment to its widespread utility in the contemporary competitive and risky corporate environment necessitates its consideration as a profession. The essay supports the argument that the professionalization of PM is worthwhile to project managers.

The Association between PM Professionalization and High Esteem

The availability of project managers in limited supply traces its origin from the harsh underrating that PM professionals have encountered from other individuals. To most people, PM is not a career. As a result, they do not consider it to be a distinct profession like the other careers. Consequently, individuals regard PM with low esteem thereby underrating scholars that pursue PM as a profession. To many CEOs and senior managers that have once tackled the issue of running a large project, it is apparent that there exists the necessity of hiring the services of a project manager to handle all the critical issues associated with the project. There have been numerous instances whereby multinational corporations have been on the verge of collapsing due to the fact that they assigned the project management duties to unprofessional individuals (Cane 2011). In the end, upon the wrongful execution of the various steps of the projects, the companies have ended up almost losing track of their vision and future objectives thereby succumbing to the threat of getting kicked out of the business.

The professionalization of PM would deal with the issue thereby enabling all individuals to consider PM as a reputable profession that bears paramount significance to the success of any organisation. Moreover, the contemporary business environment requires corporations that intend to expand their business to implement several large scale projects; both real and pilot to attain their goals and objectives. Since large financial resources are necessary for such missions, no firm is willing to incur the losses by hiring project managers that do not have a professional background in project management. As a result, the professionalization of PM would communicate the necessity of the career to all the stakeholders of an organisation thereby allocating slots for PM professionals to run the company’s projects as is the case with the other professions. From that point of argument, it is proper to opine that the professionalization of PM is worthwhile to project managers.

Scenarios involving the collapse of projects to the extent of derailing the firm from its objectives have jaundiced the traditional view that most individuals had regarding project management (Cane 2011. The view held by a traditional employee or stakeholder of a corporation is that PM is a generic tool in one’s profession that does not require in-depth training and understanding of its underlying pillars. As a result, such individuals exhibited the tendency of allocating the PM role to any graduate provided that she or he had undergone preliminary training in PM in pursuit of the main career. By encapsulating the traditional perception held by individuals towards project managers, professionalising PM would contribute significantly towards improving the reputation of project managers.

Besides improving the reputation of project managers, professionalising PM would also guarantee more job opportunities to trained and skilled project managers. In the event that all organisations have acknowledged the fact that PM is a professional course, the CEOs would be ensuring that the recommended name for a project manager represents an individual that has undergone intensive training as a project manager. By so doing, organisations will witness a decreasing number of failed projects as has been the case in the traditional business environment. In essence, PM as a career will turn out to be a lucrative and attractive position in any organisation just like the other positions. In fact, PM would have a better value since the future of the organisation depends on the success of its projects.

The fact that projects are recession-proof implies that project managers will have a lot of work at the organisation following the complete professionalization of PM. As a result, organisations will be on the constant look out for individuals that have the potential of running complex projects since the available professional project managers are inadequate for the job market (Cane 2011. In conjunction with enhancing the reputation of project managers, professionalising PM would also enable most individuals to understand the contribution that PM professionals bring to the table towards ensuring the success of the firm. It is evident from past experience in the corporate world that the proper running of a project appears effortless and guarantees tremendous fruits to the organisation. However, an erroneous project particularly in the case of large projects results in massive losses on the part of the company thereby compelling the firm to waste a lot of resources in trying to resolve the wrong issues. From the understanding, it is apparent that the association of good project managers with great projects increases the chances that the project will be successful. The training of good project managers reclines heavily on the professionalization of PM that in turn motivates individuals towards undergoing in-depth training on the profession.

Attaining the objective necessitates changing the basic definition of PM. It is evident that different individuals will give different definitions for PM. The professionalization of PM would result in a unanimous definition that considers PM to be an art and science that focuses on two main aspects that include the strategic nature of the project as well as the desire of the PM initiative to achieve the goals and objectives of the company. Running a project implies that the project manager will be part and parcel of a team. As a result, PM is a people business rather than a business of technology. Therefore, it is necessary for individuals to change their traditional perception of PM as a tool kit, a kind of software that should run the entire process. Instead, all stakeholders of the corporate world should consider PM to be a people business since people occupy the central position of all business activities that corporations engage in.

The professionalization of PM will also result in the training of “six-foot gorillas” in the field of project management. This is in accordance with the statements of the Executive Financial Services Vice President at HCL Technologies, Stuart Drew. According to Stuart, such professionals should be capable of frightening the board members positively (Cane 2011. The operational principles of PM are different from the normal operations of a business. Rather than focusing on the bright sides of the project only as is the case with the other stakeholders of the project, a project manager should concentrate his or her efforts on the possible loopholes and setbacks that may cause the entire project to crumble. By so doing, the professional should identify the possible alternatives of dealing with the drawbacks in the event of their occurrence to avert incidences of the failure of the project. Training such proactive PM professionals necessitates devoting a substantial amount of time towards the discipline rather than studying it as a single unit in our campuses. Most importantly, communicating the necessity of PM professionals in the contemporary corporate world requires the professionalization of the career.

The worthiness associated with professionalising PM also emanates from the training and development of tough-minded project managers that would be capable of dealing with all the resulting scenarios of a project without giving up or watching the project collapse. The professionals should also focus on the future rather than the real-time business performance as is the case with the other stakeholders in the business. The professional should be capable of saying “no” in the proper way besides being able to lead and motivate others during all the stages of a project. Professionalising PM would also ensure the cultivation of integrity, judgment, organisational awareness and people skills into the professionals to minimise incidences of project failures as has been the case when real-time minded individuals take over the project management role (Dinsmore & Cabanis-Brewin 2011).

In the aspect of improving the reputation of project managers, it is evident that firms will realise a number of advantages associated with the use of professional project managers to manage their future projects. For instance, the organisation will benefit from best-practice skills, techniques, experience and knowledge as well as the enhanced competence and capability associated with delivering successful projects. Professionalising PM will also compel the existing professional project managers to develop their skills through further training with the end result of improving the overall performance of the organisation as well as developing their careers. It is also evident that there has been training on project management despite the underrating faced by the professionals. Therefore, rather than equipping the professionals with the necessary skills, PM curriculum should also endeavour to ensure that the trained individuals have a passion to succeed and deliver results. The necessity emanates from the fact that training individuals that do not have a passion for success may result in project managers that cannot endure hardships during the course of the project. However, all stakeholders ought to understand that at the base of the passion for success is the professionalization of PM since the emerging professionals will be considering it to be one of the highly esteemed professions in the corporation.

PM Professionalization and Profession Growth

Rather than enhancing the reputation of project managers, professionalising project management also guarantees the growth of the PM profession. Apparently, the growth of any profession is advantageous to the existing professionals since it implies increased craving and demand for the services of the professionals by companies. Reasoning along such lines gives sufficient credit to the worthiness of professionalising PM to the project managers. The emerging trends in the corporate world seem to act in favour of the profession. For instance, following the advent of globalisation, firms have found it necessary to enhance their efficiency by maximising the output of their resources. The increasing costs associated with collapsed projects have communicated to the CEOs of global companies, corporations and organisations about the necessity of employing trained professionals in project management (Giammalvo 2007). With the ever rising demand for the professionals in the sector, it is apparent that professionalising PM will play a pivotal role towards spurring the growth of the profession.

As mentioned earlier, poor management of projects results in massive losses on the part of the company funding the projects. According to the findings of the High Cost of Low Performance report, firms incur $122 million in waste for every $1 billion spent on poorly managed projects that result in poor performance (Georgetown University 2016). In essence, the objective of project management is the efficient and effective utility of resources. The earlier firms understand the necessity of using highly qualified PM professionals to deliver the results, the better. The conclusion emanates from the observation that poorly performing projects are the results of assigning untrained individuals to manage the projects rather than using qualified professionals. As a result, the two principal drivers of growth in the PM profession suffice to be the push for efficiency among organisations and the increasing demand for PM professionals.

Even though PM appears to be a new discipline, the management of projects has been in existence for ages. A vivid example of the utility of project management in the ancient days is the Pyramids of Egypt. As a matter of fact, their construction dates back to 4,000 years ago (Thomas 2006). However, they are still in existence to this day. The continued existence of the structure provides evidence to the contribution of effective skills of managing projects to the success of the project. Even though corporations and other business did not bother to borrow from the idea until after World War II, it is evident that the modern environment characterised by rapid technological advancements and globalisation has made the change compulsory (Muzio et al. 2011). As a result, any penny saved bears paramount significance to the reduction of the costs of a business. No company or corporation is willing to throw its financial resources to unpaying projects.

The realisation has called for an increase in the demand for professional project managers. The contemporary corporate environment also necessitates timeliness and efficiency (Microsoft Corporation 2005). The requirements are evidence of the need for strong leadership teams that govern the entire project management exercise. From the increasing demand of efficiency and timeliness towards the delivery of projects, there has been an increasing demand for project managers. The contribution of professionalising project managers is on the part of luring many individuals towards pursuing the profession with the anticipation of meeting the ever rising market demands. The ultimate result of the chain of events is the growth of the industry that is important to project managers.

The growth of the PM profession also emanates from the increasing demand for certificates, diplomas, and degrees in the profession. However, a rise on the demand for PM professional qualifications largely depends on the professionalization of PM that will alter the traditional opinions held by other stakeholders towards project managers. Rather than attaching little significance to the profession, professionalising PM will ensure high esteem and reputation to the profession and its professionals. In essence, the continuous growth of the profession requires the professionalization of the PM profession that in turn portrays it as a pertinent contributing factor to the success of organisation, corporate and company projects. Training professionals intensively will ensure that they gain an in-depth understanding of the PM structure and all its underlying principles (Hodgson 2005). By so doing, the emerging professionals will be capable of managing the other activities of the project successfully thereby averting incidences of project failure. To meet the objective, institutions of higher learning should introduce more PM programmes.

PM Professionalization and the weight in gold of Project Managers

It is also evident that professionalising the PM discipline will also have a positive input on the weight in gold of both the upcoming and existing project managers. By so doing, it would be evident that PM is a profession just like the other professions. Attaching the weight in gold to the profession is equivalent to stating that PM is a profession that requires a unique skill set. As a result, it requires highly-trained individuals rather than any person within the organisation. As a result, the failure of the company to understand the contribution of project managers towards the success of the company implies the failure of most of its projects. To professionals in PM, saying that any individual at the workplace can be a project manager is equivalent to saying that any person can be a neurosurgeon. As a result, there are unique skills that are specific to the profession (Dinsmore & Cabanis-Brewin 2011). Attaining such skills requires an individual to undergo intensive training rather than the simple use of a tool kit as is the perception of some organisations and individuals.

Contrary to the traditional setup where projects were simple, an increase in the complexity of projects is the order of the day in the contemporary corporate world (Ortone-Jones 2013). As a result, even though any individual within the graduate corporate workforce could handle projects before the emergence of the current business complexities, complex projects in the modern business world require special project management skills only held by professional project managers. However, prior to attaining the skills, individuals ought to undergo training in project management. As a prerequisite to the increasing preference of the profession to other courses, there is need for professionalising the career.

Professionalising PM will also communicate the specific skills required by an individual in project management thereby elevating the weight of the profession. Arguing along such lines reveals that only individuals of rival professions or employees that consider the competition emanating from project managers to be a threat will argue against the professionalization of PM (Ortone-Jones 2013). The most important aspect entails speaking the issue “inside out”. Considering the example of an expensive project, the uncertain aspect is the greatest part of the project. In the event that the leadership of the project is unable to deal with the uncertainty aspect, it is obvious that the project will fail.

It is important to remember that dealing with the unknown setbacks of the project is the responsibility of the project manager (Ortone-Jones 2013). There are a number of drawbacks and challenges that arise during the course of the project in the current world. Such challenges emanate from the increasing competition, sharp declines in demand among other issues. In such cases, untrained individuals may implement the wrong course of action thereby resulting in project failure or compelling the funding company to incur additional expenses to resolve the issue. The challenges of PM mentioned above imply the necessity of professionalising PM so as to make it an important necessity of organisations, corporations and companies.

Conclusion

Professionalising project management is worthy to project managers. The first significance of PM professionalization emanates from the fact that it improves the reputation of the PM professionals thereby compelling other stakeholders to regard the profession with high esteem just like the other professionalised careers. PM professionalization also creates more demand for PM professionals among firms. The turbulent contemporary business environment depends on highly-qualified project managers to deal with the numerous risks associated with managing modern projects. Unlike the situation in the traditional business environment, a modern project craves for the experience and expertise of PM professionals as key ingredients for its success. Finally, PM professionalization also increases the weight in gold of the professionals.

Reference List

Cane, A., 2011. Project managers-why they are underrated and in short supply. Available from: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0827adba-fa72-11e0-8fe7 00144feab49a.html#axzz4Cb2PpetH

de la Campa Ahedo, A.C. and Schwenke, C., 2015. Professionalization of Project Management: A Professional Identity Perspective.

Dinsmore, P.C. and Cabanis-Brewin, J., 2011. The AMA handbook of project management. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.

Georgetown University., 2016. Why a Master’s Degree in Project Management is worth It. News and Events. School of Continuing Studies. Available from: http://scs.georgetown.edu/about-scs/news-and-events/article/5580/why-masters-degree-project-management-worth-it

Giammalvo, P.D., 2007. Is Project Management a Profession? If yes, where does it fit in and if not, what is it? (Doctoral dissertation, Lille University).

Hodgson, D., 2005. ‘Putting on a professional performance’: performativity, subversion and project management. Organization, 12(1), pp.51-68.

Microsoft Corporation., 2005. Effective Benchmarking for Project Management: Winning Strategies for the Professional Services Industry. Microsoft Dynamics.

Muzio, D., Hodgson, D., Faulconbridge, J., Beaverstock, J. and Hall, S., 2011. Towards corporate professionalization: The case of project management, management consultancy and executive search. Current Sociology, 59(4), pp.443-464.

Ortone-Jones, C., 2013. Project managers worth their weight in gold. Raconteur. Available from: http://raconteur.net/business/why-professional-project-managers-are-worth-their-weight-in-gold

Thomas, J., 2006. Professionalization of Project Management: What Does It Mean for Practice?. The AMA Handbook of Project Management, p.236.