“If I am a project manager, then I am a superhero, I have aligned the project and team towards a singular goal, but it takes lots of practicing, planning, and monitoring to get really good at project management.”
What is a project manager? How can I explain it to a child and why in the world would I need to? These are the questions that should be explained before diving into any grandiose statement about what should or should not be done in project management. These are valid questions, because for all but the fortunate few, most do not even encounter a project manager until faced with a major corporate project or problem.
We are the problem solvers, but before you can go into anymore detail, what’s a project? Are there limits to what a project could be? To a project manager, a project needs to produce a deliverable, involve stage sign offs, and last more than two weeks. Each project requires at least one supreme leader to use tools, techniques, skills, as well as their own knowledge to meet the requirements through management processes. This is the project manager.
So, in the comic book world where most modern kids live, a project manager bravely sweeps in aligning and uniting the people to accomplish a common goal, like a superhero. It is a pretty important job. We drive organizational success and add value by adhering to PM methods, strategically reducing risk, cutting out inefficiencies, all while producing the necessary deliverable. If I am a real-world superhero, how can I possibly live up to this courageous parallel? How do I bring a project team together, plan for the worst, speak boldly about outcomes, as well as seamlessly monitor each detail? Well, no one becomes a renowned superhero or project manager overnight. Everyone starts somewhere.
There are six basic things that any project manager needs to monitor in each project; the scope, schedule, resources, budget, quality, and risk. If these areas are accounted for and well-managed, then I am a successful project manager. Although, to be a real hero and savior I need to have the discipline to build, run, and handle a high-functioning team. In other words, to master this level of valor, I should possess effective leadership and management practices.
But before we get too bogged down in the project management activity and character checklist, it is significant to acknowledge that most of our modern superheroes had to work hard to be their amazing selves. Batman is a psychologically damaged philanthropist who spent a good amount of his time practicing, planning, and monitoring the world around him. Project managers should be putting in the same amount of work.
Yet, don’t forget that even Batman lost a few fights, and that’s okay, because a good disciplined project manager prevents a company from spending money on a project that will fail. We can perceive the risks and hurdles by never skipping over the planning phase. The planning phase is answering the question, can I reach this finish line given the budget, scope, and schedule of this project? What type of risks are present in the situation? What needs to be monitored during execution? Don’t be fooled, Batman never jumped off a building without internally answering these questions. If, on the way down, something did not go as planned, well, Batman had a well-planned contingency plan in mind.
As project managers, we are asking the big questions and solving the major problems, so the planning phase should never be avoided, governance is never not significant, and assessing risk happens throughout the life of the project. I know that I want to be that superhero who knows how to seamlessly deliver outcomes, speed up processes, and measure results. I am a project manager.
I AM BATMAN.