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People First – Project Management Methodologies second

Most Project Management methodologies are well defined and they are usually well understood by all project team members regardless if you work in a classic or an agile environment … but it does not get you to deliver a successful project other than defining the framework in which you will work together and the mode of operation that you will use to execute the project - which is the prerequisite for a successful project. The difference between a successful and a non-successful project is how the people in the project use those methods, processes and tools. It is all about people!

What is a process?

'A process is a series or set of activities that interact to produce a result; it may occur once-only or be recurrent or periodic.' (WIKIPEDIA). A project management method (like SCRUM, Kanban, Waterfall etc.) can be described as a process or a framework. A process is always performed to achieve a repeatable result. Every project is different – therefore a process i.e. method/framework, can bring you only that far, only to a certain point … in order to go beyond you have to trust your project team members to lead and execute your projects. It is not only a clever way to leverage on your best investment, it is a sound business decision.

Let's take the 'Project Manager' as an example:

Project Management methods can be seen as a 'hard skill' including tools and processes helping in e.g. planning, budgeting and scheduling. Project Managers are among other things responsible for assigning tasks to project team members and helping them to perform their tasks successfully. They work together with a variety of different kinds of people and therefore need special soft skills to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts when they arise. These soft skills are equally or even more important than assigning those tasks using the tools and methods agreed for the project.

A Project Manager is also a leader and should be looking to improve ways of working and challenging the current processes to improve the project team's productivity level. As a leader you should motivate and inspire your team members keeping them enthusiastic to do their best. It is about soft skills and leadership skills. You need to focus on your people and bring the best out of them. Leadership skills in Project Management include the ability to build and form teams from individual contributors, listen actively to different perspectives and encourage project team members and stakeholders to collaborate in order to achieve a common goal. Negotiation and communication skills are important to enable team members to communicate openly and honestly with each other, taking into consideration that they may have different or shared interests or perspectives.

You need to invest in your project team members as they are your biggest assets. Just to be clear, you need both hard skills and soft skills, but put your people first and project management methodologies second.

In a Nutshell, make sure you have an agreed and adapted way of working in your projects and focus on your project team members to deliver a successful project.

It is all about people.

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Principal Projektmanager bei ORDIX; Agile Coach, SAFe SPC



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