In Part 1 of this two part series on selecting the right project manager for the project, we discussed how it isn’t just about putting the best available project manager in the role. There are many aspects that need to be examined – and how the individual matches up with the specific project customer may be the biggest determiner of all – depending on how picky or needy your project client actually is. In Part 2, we’ll consider some of the organizational infrastructure differences that can affect the project team and project manager making getting the right person in the role possibly even more of a challenge…depending on what they can handle.
Depending on the type of organization your project managers and team members are coming from, there are some advantages and disadvantages that need to be acknowledged. Generally, were faced with either a Task structure or a Matrix structure. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each…
Task structure – advantages
The advantages of the task structure environment is that it is an autonomous situation for the project manager, the resources for the project are dedicated specifically to the project, the PM has greater control over the work of the resources on the project, the PM has greater decision making authority, and there is often more visibility for the PM in this role.
Task structure – disadvantages
Disadvantages for the task structure can be that the project may face a greater impact due to resource turnover, the team will likely have less flexibility in adapting to project changes – which are common, and as projects wind down there often is a greater threat to team morale because of the extreme focus on the one project at hand.
Matrix structure – advantages
Likewise, the matrix structure has its on pluses and minuses. Advantages include greater access to expertise because of the revolving resource pool, greater flexibility to changing project needs (easier to acquire a new resource for the project with a specific skill set), less idle time for resources because they are usually working on several projects at once, and – therefore – also less likelihood of experiencing morale issues as a big project is winding down.
Matrix structure – disadvantages
Disadvantages of the matrix structure include potential resource conflicts with other projects of higher priority (can suddenly have resources pulled for higher visibility projects), a greater potential for stress due to conflicting project demands, and less direct control over resources that report to other departments.
Some additional things to consider when selecting the right project manager for the engagement at hand…
- What specific experience or project leadership roles does this individual need to have under their belt to take on the current engagement?
- What soft skills will this individual need to lead this specific project?
- What hard skills will this individual need to lead this specific project?
- How will their personality play into the needs for this project and the project client?
- Can this individual make the type of decisions that this project will need in critical situations (this can vary greatly depending on the subject matter for the project)?
We know there is no magic formula for getting the right leader assigned to the project. And it’s not always about putting your best, most experienced project manager at the helm. There are so many things to consider – not the least of which is how will this person handle the project customer…because we all know that customer management and customer confidence is huge. It certainly isn’t just about who can do the best job of managing the project schedule.
This is why it is not that uncommon to swap out project managers midstream on a project. But it’s always unfortunate when it happens because it can negatively impact a career and it almost always causes a setback on the project – usually in both timeframe and budget. Customer confidence and satisfaction can also take a hit until things turn around with the new project manager. Selecting the right project manager from the start is always the best way to go…use all the measuring sticks you can and don’t quickly just go for the most experienced or whoever is available right now.