The growth of the South African economy depends on project managers successfully executing projects – whether in the information and communications technology, banking or engineering sectors. Therefore, highly skilled project managers are needed, says IT software development and integration company Dariel executive director Greg Vercellotti.
To ensure that project managers execute their tasks well, Dariel “gives project managers a mandate – to operate within a budget mandate, a time mandate and a leadership, or management mandate. “The way we manage project managers is open and flexible so that they are not constrained by too many rules. We do not tell them how to deliver the projects – we let them apply their skills and be guided by their intuition to deliver the projects,” he explains.
Developing a Project Manager
Vercellotti says Dariel favours the in-house training and development of its project managers, “. . . as we are often disappointed with the caliber of project managers we recruit externally from the industry, as they are not well trained”.
“When new project managers join us, we put them through a company induction programme so that they can become familiar with general company conduct and processes, while we familiarise them with the project management methods of our project management approach.”
He says the company conducts training sessions every second week of every second month, where project managers are trained in project management solutions development and testing before they are allowed to apply their skills on client projects.
Dariel also conducts in-house forums every month, where professionals in the disciplines of, for example, architecture, engineering and business analysis, come together to discuss common challenges and solutions, and exchange ideas on how their specific skills can contribute toward managing projects.
In addition, the company conducts peer reviews, where project managers present solutions currently used on projects and have their colleagues comment on these solutions.
“We also send our project managers to external training providers to receive training in industry standards and frameworks, such as the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guide, which presents a set of standard terminology and guidelines for project management, as well as Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2), which is a process-based method for effective project management.
The PMBOK guide outlines good practice in project management in relation to the required knowledge, skills, tools and techniques, and is published by the Project Management Institute. The first issue was published in 1996.
PRINCE2 encompasses the management, control and organisation of a project and is also used to refer to the training and accreditation of authorised practitioners of the method.
Project Manager Characteristics
Vercellotti says there are several important characteristics that a successful project manager should have, including an understanding of the industry in which they are working.
“There are certain traits a manager needs – such as people skills that enable you to deal with people at all levels, from junior staff members to executive managers. “You cannot be a project manager if you are shy and introspective and prefer not to interact with people.”
Further, they must be in possession of and understand the relevant project management framework, such as the PMBOK guide and PRINCE2, and have leadership skills to provide direction and guidance for their team.
“You also need to be pragmatic in your attitude and logical in your thinking, ” he concludes.