Evaluating a Project Manager

Can a good PM have a bad project?

Can't we just evaluate the project? Good project = good project manager?

What makes a good PM anyway? Let's start with the recognition that project managers are leaders who solve problems. Now, evaluate your PM against these criteria.

Does the Project Manager:

  1. Practice proven project management techniques? Is there a documented scope, schedule, and budget? Is there a risk register and issues log?  This is the stuff you learn in project management training or when you study for the PMP exam. This can't be the only focus of a good PM, but it is the foundation.
  2. Foster positive relationships and cohesion on the team? People perform projects. Is the PM bringing the team together?
  3. Manage customer expectations so that customers get the best value? A good PM helps the customer create their best balance of cost, schedule and features.
  4. Communicate to keep all stakeholders positively engaged? There are a lot of stakeholders for projects, and they have different interests.
  5. Balance the goals of the project and the goals of the organization? Keeping an eye on the big picture supports the overall organizational strategy.

Project management is an art and a science. Evaluate your project manager that way.

But what about the first question? Can good PMs have bad projects? Or, should we just assume that a project failure is always attributable to the project manager? That takes some root cause analysis. Was the project breakdown related to factors within the project manager's and team's control? Could they have changed the outcome by behaving differently? If yes, then grade the PM and team accordingly.

If the problem boils down to a lack of skills and knowledge, then project management training is part of the solution.

This post was inspired by a question in the LinkedIn Project Management group.