The Accidental Project Manager

Carol Speirs | May 31, 2019

"Where do I get some help with this project management stuff?"

Is this you or someone you know? You are busy doing your day job and then you are in a meeting with your manager who says “Hey, I need you to help us get this thing done.”  You are now an ‘accidental’ project manager. You get the joy of the work you normally do AND a project to run.  Where do you start?  How do you pull all the components of work that need to be completed into a document, so that people who will be doing the tasks know what is expected? And most of all, how can you make it a success?

This scenario can play out many times in your career.  Being an accidental project manager leaves little time for upskilling on the project management process.  However, there are some quick fixes. You could do a web search, watch a few videos, read a book, talk to people, search your intranet for a raft of (confusing) templates or go on a workshop.

Indeed, you may want to do all those things! 

Whether you are an enthusiastic or reluctant accidental project manager you will need to build your core competency in project management skills to be successful.  You can use the common approach of ‘learn as you go’ and fail fast, but if you are keen to get this right and make a good impression, gaining a little knowledge and practice will help you along the way.

Which area should a new project manager focus on first?  Scope management, managing the communications, reporting, staying within budget, getting the time and cost estimates right?  The answer is ‘it depends’: on the nature of the organisation, the benefits to be realised and the context of the change required.  Working through these aspects in a structured way will clarify which is most important for the organisation. 

And once you have learned the technical skills, what about the soft skills? These are sometimes the hardest to master and need regular practice to ensure your project is successful for all your stakeholders.

As mentioned in our earlier article: ‘The Future of Work – are you prepared?’ we believe that project management is a core competency for employees who are tasked with delivering ‘pieces of work’ such as process improvements, not just those in formal project management roles.  Gaining training in the basics of project management can also help to improve your skills in the other areas that employers are seeking.

If this is you or your staff, take a look at our very popular ‘Project Essentials’ workshop running on 27 - 28 August (Click here to book)

If you want to improve your project management skills; it all starts with a conversation.  Call 499 9363 or email us for a coffee