by Jurie Smith

Making sure the glove fits

Human Resources

Making sure the glove fits
Making sure the glove fits

“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives." Willa A. Foster.

Quality outcomes demand quality leaders!

Getting the right project manager is as much a part of the successful outcome of the project as the initial idea and preliminary plan.

With rapid technological advancement and the necessity for businesses to adapt, change continues to challenge the competitiveness, even the survival, of firms. It is, as a result, imperative that the success of projects is not left to chance no matter how minor or great it is. This realisation may hinder the unnecessary squandering of resources as well as capital.

Therefore, investing in attaining the right project manager, who possesses the right kind of skill set, is mandatory.  

A project manager’s usefulness cannot be overemphasised. The PM is the person who has to make sure that the undertaking commences according to the scheduled times; plans for current and future events; leads the team in the desirable direction; monitors progress and any deviations; controls resources; while all the time making sure that the risk associated with the programme is subverted and the project is completed lucratively.

Accredited and professional project managers must be allowed to deliver strategic change via a managed portfolio of projects that are aligned and integrated with the organisational strategy. Project managers provide companies with a structured and disciplined approach, from initiation to the implementation of business change programmes.

Succinctly, the Project Manager must have a number of qualities to be able to start, manage and conclude a project, namely, though not exhaustively; skill and experience, business acumen, technological dexterity and people skills.

Skill and Experience
PMs must have some experience in leading successful projects because to really understand the rigours of leading a project team with all the gyrations that are involved, one has to have gotten their hands 'dirty'. The PM has to have the leadership skills to adequately chart a course for those in his command, the capability to defuse potential explosive situations among his project team members, and the ability to administer budgets and interact effectively with stakeholders.

Business Acumen
The project manager must have an understanding of the impact of the project on the firm. Major projects have a great value attached to them in terms of time, resources and capital. The PM must be in a position to be able to express how the various project dimensions will influence the business and affect its clients. Short of sufficient knowledge, the PM would be at the mercy of others to interpret the business language which may lead to despondency from his team, a shifting of baselines and beyond that, an increase in the overall costs.

Technological Dexterity
The PM has to be au fait with the technology that is used as it can make the work less cumbersome, easy to understand and dissemination of information rapid. The Project Manager needs to, depending on the type of project, interact with the internal technology teams that may be involved in the project directly or indirectly by maintaining the systems in use. Therefore, knowledge of the devices employed is crucial. Bringing the combination of business acumen and technological knowledge into the venture is an asset as the project head will understand the full ramifications of his decisions upon the project.

People Skills
In any project, the success factor is determined by people. It is, consequently, of high importance that the project leader be one who is able to rally people behind him and his vision in order to accomplish the desired goals and objectives of the organisation.

Ultimately, project managers should be recognised as tactical assets as they spearhead the strategic and change initiatives within the business.

Jurie Smith (MBA, PMP®, PRINCE2® Practitioner, and MSP®) is the CEO at the PM Academy. He is an experienced business executive with over 24 years’ experience in project management consulting and training. He is a Project Management Assessor registered with the Services SETA, an Executive on the Steering Committee of the Project Management Standards Generating Body and has held various executive positions at Project Management South Africa (PMSA). For further details, or visit

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