Sunday, February 27, 2011

Project Management is about the People not the Tools

This past week I attended my local PMI monthly chapter meeting where Bob Baim gave a talk titled, “Predictive Project Management, Strategies for Avoiding the OS Phase” (Bob also has a book with the same title).

Bob (a very energetic speaker) gave us many examples of big name projects that hit the OS phase, and in many cases, they hit it again and again.  One of his take home messages was that projects do not fail, processes do, and if you do not fix them you will fail, again and again.

The following slide sums this up nicely:

You see it is not all about the tools.  To be a truly effective PM you need to be a people person and you need to be an expert in all types of communication.  Reading the PMBOK and being able to quote the page number where they talk about the WBS doesn’t mean you are an effective PM.

Josh Nankivel, from the PM Student, had a recent quote that I think sums it up nicely,

“I think many project managers tend to focus on tools and techniques far too much, and not enough on the people aspects of managing projects. By far these relational aspects of project management are the most important ones.”

Final thought on this.  Please keep in mind the people in your projects are what make your PM tools useful.  If you spend all your time with your tools you will probably be headed to the OS phase …


  1. Well maybe. Poor tools cannot help the processes and the people avoid the "OS" phase. All three are needed, all three must work together. All three must be provide an "Integrated Project Management" SYSTEM.

    It is not a trade off option. The notion that a trade can be made is seriously flawed (present company excluded). The approach that the "one trick pony" - buy my tool, deploy my processes, hire my people simply is misguided.

  2. Ryan EndresMarch 01, 2011

    Glen, you are correct, you do need all three, and you need to work with the folks who are completing the tasks to make sure all the information is there and it is accurate. Thanks for your comments. -Ryan


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