Advice for Junior PMs – # 9 – Choosing the right project

Early on in my career, I was given the very sound advice of “Part of being a successful Project Manager is choosing the right project.”  Up to that point, I had either been very lucky (approximately 70% of IT projects are failures per a 2008 statistic) or just really really good at what I do (but I’m leaning towards luck with just a hint of skill).

This advice has proven more and more true (and I can see it more and more as projects go on) for me as my career has gone along.  But what makes the right project?

  1. The right team
    The right team can make or break your project.  Are you given the authority to put the right people in the right position? Can you add staff or replace people as required?  Moreover, are you the right project manager for the project?
  2. An achievable scope
    Your sponsor will always want the moon and only want to pay $5 for it, but that’s not even close to realistic.  Can you negotiate the scope to something that is both achievable and satisfies the project’s business case?  Do you have a sponsor that is open to discussions of risks and issues?
  3. A supportive PMO
    The PMO should be there to help you be successful.  If the PMO does not support an iterative estimation process, you are out of luck from the get go.  I have written about this before at length, so go give that a read here.

Have you had trials and train wrecks due to any of the above?  What about successes?  Let me know in the comments below.


About Jason H Zalmanowitz
I am a nerdy Management Consultant / Project Manager with a MBA, have spent the majority of my career working for consulting firms in Calgary, and I race in triathlons because of (and thanks to) my wife. As a Project Manager, I have managed field implementations, strategy development projects, software development projects, and hardware implementation projects. As a consultant, I have helped companies articulate how and why they are going to implement and interact with sustaining technology to support their business.

One Response to Advice for Junior PMs – # 9 – Choosing the right project

  1. Pingback: The Essentialist Project Manager | Unnatural Leadership

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