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John P. Reiling, PMP: Three Key Responsibilities of the Project Manager…or Is It Four?

Any project manager knows that he or she is in charge of delivering projects on schedule, within budget, and at the required level of quality. But is there a fourth factor – very important – missing?

Let’s take a step back for just a second. A few months ago, in Dec 2015, the Project Management Institute (PMI) changed the PDU requirements. Now PMP’s are required to take at least eight hours of training in each of the three legs of the new “PMI Talent Triangle”. Leadership and Technical Project Management are two legs of the triangle – no surprise there. However, the third leg of the PMI Talent Triangle is “Business Management and Strategy” – a little outside of usual expectations because it tends to be more “outward facing”.

The “Business Management and Strategy” leg of the PMI Talent Triangle includes complementary skills to project management. One might ask, for example, why a project manager needs to understand accounting or finance, when these are not necessarily part of a project management skill set. Or one might ask, similarly, why a project manager would benefit from understanding something about strategy when he or she just needs to manage the project.

So where did this new emphasis on seemingly peripheral skills originate? The answer is actually straightforward. Prior to making the change to the PDU requirements, the PMI initiated a formal study of the role of project manager. Called a Role Delineation Study (RDS), the idea was to determine new or evolving requirements of the job of project manager, based on the evolving needs in the workplace. The feedback on the project manager role for this study was largely from employers, and they stated loud and clear that they need PM’s with perspective on “Business Management and Strategy” – hence the third leg of the PMI Talent Triangle and the requirement for PDUs training in that general subject area.

But let’s look a little deeper as to why such skills would matter to a project manager. Let’s return to the question of whether a PM is, or should be, really in charge of a fourth factor, in addition to delivering projects on schedule, within budget, and at the required level of quality.

Let’s start out look with a question: Is it possible to deliver a project on schedule, within budget, and to the required quality or performance standards – and deliver something of little or no value? I have to smile and ask, “Has this kind of thing ever happened before?”

Well…of course!

And that’s where this potential fourth responsibility of a project manager comes onto the scene – and it relates to business strategy. A project manager is much more likely to deliver value if they think about strategy – and measure the project’s progress and effectiveness related to strategy. The idea here is to consistently go back to the original purpose of the project, which is to fulfill some piece of a strategic goal for the company. The PM would add these strategic progress metrics as a fourth measure to those of schedule, budget, and quality. In so doing, wouldn’t the PM be delivering on what employers told the PMI they need, as per the RDS?

As a result, it is very beneficial for new and experienced PMs to supplement their studies with training in “Business Management and Strategy”, as no required. The benefit is not just to learn more, or to fulfill the new PDU requirement, but also to be an effective PM by the latest standards – and to deliver projects with value! And that can be done by paying close attention to a fourth factor – strategy – and monitoring strategy metrics for the project in addition to schedule, budget, and quality.

John Reiling, PMP
PM Training Online
PMI Talent Triangle:

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