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Project Management

Project Management for Administrative Professionals

By Thomas E. Douglas, MBA, PMP senior instructor, P.A. Douglas & Associates Inc.

In my career, I’ve worked with thousands of administrative professionals, and have seen their role evolve throughout the last 15 years. Often times in my workshops I will ask a typical group of 50 to show me by a show of hands – how many of you have ever worked as a member of a project team? Almost all the hands come up.

It is not unusual for today’s administrative professional to be an integral part of important meetings, being consulted by her boss on critical matters – being empowered to run projects, lead a team and manage others.

I’ll also give the group a little true or false quiz on Project Management. I’ll ask the following questions and provide brief answers and explanations:

Q: Are projects initiated by whoever is in charge?

A: No. While ideally, the project manager is assigned during the initiation phase of the project, the business case about the project opportunity comes first. This does not necessarily come from the project manager.

Q: Is project management no different than any other application of management principles?

A: False. Project Management is centered on delivering a specific objective, which has a finite beginning and end. General management is more “on-going”, a repetitive process, and generally has more decision-making authority.

Q: Does the project’s initiator usually have a clear idea of all important aspects of the project?

A: No. The initiator (initiation phase) is a very important first project phase where the project’s objectives, scope, business purpose and deliverables are defined. Equally important is phase 2 – the planning phase. This phase helps guide your team through the execution and closure phases of the project. In this phase, vital areas such as risk, quality, and change management are defined.

Q: Can anyone can be a project manger?

A: Yes. But this does not mean that everyone is a good project manager. A basic understanding of project management principles is key. The “golden rule” of Project Management is knowing how to plan, organize, and control!

Fortune magazine has called Project Management the number one career choice in the post re-engineering world. Well, why are we seeing such a boom in PM? I think it is because of this simple formula: Greater Change = More Innovation – More Projects.

Research has shown that one of the most critical skills of highly successful administrative professionals is their ability to manage complex projects independently from conception to completion. It is essential for today’s administrative professional to know the latest techniques and approaches that will give you the confidence to deal with the pressures, pitfalls and challenges associated with getting the job done.

Project Management is important because it keeps our “eyes on the prize”, what is going to be delivered, or in other words, the scope. In fact, poor scope definition is the major contributing factor to cost overruns in the engineering and construction industry. A man by the name of W. Edwards Deming developed the TQM system (Total Quality Management) and stated that 94% of errors are due to people not following proper procedure for the job.

Project Management is important because it brings strategic management and leadership to projects. Without it, a project team can be like a ship without a captain -tossing to and fro, without control or purpose. Project Management brings together and optimizes the resources necessary to successfully complete the project.

Project Management is important because of one word: Change. Projects always occur in an environment in which nothing is constant except change. Projects are always a moving target. Managing change can be a complex and daunting task, that is not optional. To be truly effective, a good project manager can adapt to change.

There is no question this world is changing fast! Whatever the Project Management landscape will look like 20 years from now, this field is definitely not on it’s way out.

 

About Tom Douglas:

Tom Douglas has been featured in various public seminars throughout the country for several years and has also acted as a consultant to numerous individuals and Fortune 500 companies.

Tom’s keen understanding of organizational behavior and wealth of real-world experience further enhances P.A. Douglas’ acclaimed training programs. In addition, Tom has earned degrees in psychology (BA), business administration (MBA), and is an experienced team leader and project manager who holds the project management certification (PMP). Tom’s passion for focal topics, together with a sensible and approachable manner, reaches participants at all levels.

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