Are You an Accidental Project Manager?
Making schedules, dealing with budgets, and reporting success metrics to stakeholders are normal tasks for project managers. Companies are beginning to ask employees who are not typically project managers to step in and take over project management roles. This leaves many people functioning as a project manager without the title or proper training—or, accidental project managers. Let’s look at project management tools that accidental project managers can use to be successful.
Replanning is a project management tool that can be a challenge for accidental project managers. Replanning is adjusting plans for a project when changes are necessary—for example, rescheduling timelines or redistributing resources according to a client’s feedback.1 Accidental project managers often find adjusting plans challenging and sometimes embarrassing. To be successful as an accidental project manager, you should embrace the fact that project plans may need to change. If this happens, the plans should be adjusted, but the work should continue.
Answer Five Questions
Accidental project managers can be successful by embracing some of the basic theories and processes of formal project management. One of these is known as the “Five Immutable Principles of Performance-Based Project Management.”2 Whether the project is simple or complex, you need to know:
- Where are you going?
- How are you going to get there?
- Do you have everything you need?
- What impediments will you encounter, and how will you remove them?
- How are you going to measure progress?
Answering these five questions at the beginning of a project is a great project management tool that makes success easier to define, measure, and achieve.
Engage Your Team
Accidental project managers are often uncomfortable serving as a project manager. Team members can lose confidence if a project manager does not seem confident in their ability to lead the project to success. Accidental project managers who lack confidence can look for some early wins to help boost their confidence, as well as their team’s. Early wins could be defining requirements, setting up processes, or doing initial planning.3 These accomplishments can put the entire team on the path to success.
Focus on Customer Needs
The goal for all project managers is the same: to deliver the best results possible for the client. Focusing on the needs of the client so you can deliver the best results requires no formal training. Relate to the client by listening to them and determining if there is anything additional that could provide value to the project.4 Simply focusing on the meeting the client’s needs can be a great project management tool for the accidental project manager.
It’s easy for an accidental project manager to commit to unrealistic goals or deadlines. They might be eager to show their skills, they might find it hard to say no, or it might stem from inexperience. A seasoned project manager will know the value of setting realistic expectations. Accidental project managers should be careful to not overpromise.5 Once the deliverables and timelines have been agreed to, it is much harder to change them. Being realistic is a project management tool that accidental project managers should master as soon as possible.
Sometimes an accidental project manager realizes they enjoy project management and would like to move to a more formal role. If a career in project management is something you want to pursue, an MS in Project Management from an accredited online institution can be the right path. With a master’s in project management you can gain the technical project management, leadership, and business strategy skills needed to oversee projects and lead a diverse team as you help your organization achieve its strategic goals.
An accidental project manager can be successful by applying simple project management tools such as gaining the confidence of your team, focusing on the client, or setting realistic expectations. If a project management career seems like a good fit for you, an MS in Project Management may be the way to achieve the career you want.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Project Management degree program online. Earn the skills necessary to achieve the career you want and help your organization succeed.
1 Source: www.comindware.com/blog-accidental-project-managers-tools-need
2 Source: www.projecttimes.com/articles/4-ways-to-succeed-as-an-accidental-project-manager.html
3 Source: www.amanet.org/training/articles/advice-for-accidental-project-managers.aspx
4 Source: www.liquidplanner.com/blog/6-tips-for-the-accidental-project-manager
5 Source: www.brightwork.com/blog/9-survival-tips-accidental-project-managers
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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