Despite its demand, project management is still somewhat of a misunderstood career. Most people have heard of project management, but few truly understand what it involves or a project manager's responsibilities. Many also project management misunderstand some key roles, responsibilities, and skills. And even fewer people know what the PMP certification is all about, or how to get it.
Many organizations fail to take full advantage of project management. For example, more than half of Project Management Offices (PMOs) aren’t taking advantage of valuable project management, portfolio planning, and resource optimization.
In fact, more than 40 percent of certified project management professionals (PMPs) indicated that resource management and resource optimization are their top project management challenges today. As a result, approximately 15 percent of PMOs rely on spreadsheets for project management tracking, which introduces risks.
Although some of these facts are true, the drastic misunderstanding of a project manager’s role by organizations and their inability to adapt to processes are actually the primary reasons for project failure.
In this article, we are going to review the top 15 most common project management myths, and how earning the PMP certification can help put them to rest.
Top Project Management Myths
Myth #1: Everyone Can Be a Project Manager. Many organizations appoint an existing manager or team member as a project manager. However, this typically involves an individual who isn't experienced or a certified project manager. This doesn't necessarily mean that he or she cannot be an effective and successful project manager; however, it is true that project management involves a specific skill set.
The most important project management skills include:
- Written and verbal communication
- Critical thinking
The Truth: Project management certainly involves a mix of learned skills, experience, and knowledge areas. Project managers who are exposed to and have the opportunity to expand their skills and experience are more likely to see successful project outcomes.
Myth #2: All Project Managers Are Tech Savvy. In today’s digital age, and as project management becomes more mainstream across various industries and organizations, many professionals assume that project managers must be tech wizards.
The Truth: Yes, many of today’s project managers are well versed in various project management tools and software. But it is nothing that cannot be learned or acquired with exposure and experience. You don’t need a degree in Computer Science or be a developer to be a project manager.
If you are or want to be a project manager in the tech space, you can work with a team of tech specialists to work on IT projects with you. The more time you spend working in this space, the more you will learn just by doing.
Myth #3: Project Management Involves a Lot of Math. Let’s take a short trip back to high school math class for a second. Do you remember trying to solve algebraic equations? How about remembering geometric formulas? Now, when was the last time you used any of that?
Unless you are already in an engineering role, you probably don’t write out your math problems by hand; you use software to do it for you.
The Truth: That’s the beauty of today’s digital era: Technology does all that work for us. Depending on the industry or type of project, there may be math involved. However, this is where SMEs and software become your best friends.
If you aren’t a mathematician, and you are a project manager or an aspiring project manager working in construction, engineering, or technical space, then you can leverage these resources to help you.
Myth #4: Project Managers Must Use Spreadsheets. Yes, it is true that many project managers love creating, organizing, and manipulating spreadsheets, making them Excel wizards; however, this doesn’t mean that they should be…
The Truth: Spreadsheets are excellent tracking tools, but they are also incredibly risky to use. Not only are spreadsheets clunky and time-consuming to maintain, but they are also likely full of errors. In fact, Forbes goes as far as to claim that Microsoft Excel might be the most dangerous software on the planet!
So, to say that project managers have to know how to use spreadsheets is a pretty big myth. If you are a project manager and you consider yourself an Excel wizard, more power to you. However, there are other project management tracking tools that are easier and more valuable and also reduce risk.
Myth #5: Project Managers Must Use the Agile Methodology. It’s no secret that organizations are all about agile today. In fact, many project managers question if agile or the traditional waterfall project management methodology is better.
The Truth: Each and every project management methodology has its advantages and disadvantages. Generally speaking, there isn’t one methodology that is better than the other. The “right” project management methodology depends on organizational culture, the type of project, and the project team.
All in all, understanding project requirements will help you determine which methodology is best for your project and your team.
Myth #6: No One Likes to Work with a Project Manager. Many team members will groan at the thought of having to report to and work with a project manager.
The Truth: Although this might be true, this doesn’t mean that every project manager is difficult to work with. This is really the project manager’s choice… The project manager has the choice to decide which type of leader he or she wants to be. The best and most successful project managers practice open communication and an “open-door” policy, encourage team members to perform their best, and lend a helping hand when necessary.
Myth #7: Robots Will Take Over Project Management Jobs. The rise of the machines is no longer something out of The Terminator, but a part of our everyday lives. We already use robots to automate processes and perform simple, repetitive tasks.
The Truth: Although many are worried that robots will take over our jobs, the truth is they are designed to help make our jobs easier, streamline and automate simple tasks, and even mitigate risks so we can focus more on real project management.
Furthermore, project managers who choose to accept and embrace AI software to help projects and teams operate more efficiently will gain a competitive edge.
Myth #8: Project Failure is Due to Poor Project Management. While this might be true in some cases, it’s not true in every case. However, because of the enormous responsibilities and pressure on a project manager’s shoulders, he or she is often to blame when a project fails.
The Truth: Believe it or not, one of the primary reasons for project failure extends far beyond the authority and influence of a project manager. Project failure is more often due to organizational culture, and the organization’s inability to adopt new software, processes, and respond to change.
Myth #9: Project Management is Highly Scientific and Technical. Yes, we mentioned above that there is some level of technology, mathematics, and science involved in project management; however, this really depends on the type of project.
The Truth: Of course, the level of technology and science really depends on the industry, organization, and project type. Projects are more SOCIAL than anything else. This means that they require more soft or people skills than technical skills. If you have great communication and listening skills, interpersonal skills, and a high emotional intelligence level, then these skills will be more valuable than technical skills.
Myth #10: Technology is the Most Important Resource in a Project. In today’s digital era, we can’t function without some form of technology in our daily lives. Smartphone and a laptop didn’t exist in our society 60 years ago. Yet if every technical device were to disappear, life as we know it would come to a grueling halt.
Technology and a wide range of technical skills are important for streamlining and automating project management, but it isn’t the most important piece of the project management pie.
The Truth: Technology and a wide range of technical skills are important for streamlining and automating project management. However, the most important resource is people or talent.
In fact, professional project managers recognize the importance of developing a Resource Management plan within their organizations. These organizations recognize that people are by far their most valuable asset.
Myth #11: Project Managers Must Serve As An Information Hub. Project managers definitely have a huge responsibility to serve as the main point of contact for a project. Project managers also serve as a liaison between clients, stakeholders, and project teams. As a result, project managers are expected to have all the information available at the drop of the hat.
The Truth: We both know that this isn’t always possible—even for the best project managers with successful project track records. The truth is that information doesn’t come to project managers by itself; rather, project managers must collect and seek out information from various sources, such as subject matter experts (SMEs) and field engineers and specialists.
Myth #12: Project Managers Have All the Authority. As we have discussed above, project managers do have a great deal of responsibility when managing a project. This doesn’t necessarily mean they always have the authority to make crucial decisions.
The Truth: A well-known joke among experienced project managers is that project managers have all of the decisions but no authority to make them. Most project managers don’t have direct authority over a project or the team.
As we mentioned in the previous point, having accurate information is important for project success. Sometimes project managers are forced to play “detective” in order to get it. Once a project manager has the information, they can then make a case for making a particular decision.
13. Project Management and Program Management Are the Same. Both project and program management require a professional project manager to run point. However, this is a difference between the two.
The Truth. The key here is to understand the difference between a project and a program. A PROJECT is something unique that has never been created before. This could be designing a new building, a website, an airplane or developing a new product. A PROGRAM is typically made up with smaller repetitive or ongoing projects. These projects are often interrelated.
14. Every Project Must Follow One Process. It’s true that every project should follow a process, but not necessarily the same process. Again, this greatly depends on the type of project, industry, and organization.
The Truth: Programs typically follow one process. Because a program involves smaller, repetitive, ongoing and interrelated projects, these projects can follow one process. This is because the types of projects that fit within a program are often similar.
On the other hand, each and every project is unique in its own way. Therefore, a process should be established and documented to support each unique project. The process should fit the project—not the other way around.
15. Project Managers Must Be Experienced in a Particular Field. Military members often receive training that cultivates them as professionals. Military personnel are trained to solve complex problems and think critically and “on their feet” in unique situations. This level of training positions them to be great project managers.
The Truth: Not every project manager is required to have experienced or professionally trained within their field to be a successful project manager. Although this may be preferred and it can certainly help, it isn't required.
For example, many project managers that manage construction projects have never designed or built a building. What matters most is that project managers understand the best methodologies and processes to help manage these projects from start to finish.
How The PMP Certification Can Help Conquer Project Management Myths
Regardless of whether you already works as a project manager, or if you are thinking about a project management career, don’t let these myths hold you back. You can conquer these common myths by earning your PMP certification.
By preparing and studying for your PMP certification, you will learn a number of different areas on project management. Some of these areas include project management methodologies (PMMs), how these processes and PMMs can fit different organizations and project types, and learn how to manage project teams, and more.
So, if you are ready to give your project management career a serious boost, consider preparing for and taking a professional PMP exam preparation course with Project Vanguards.
Project Vanguards understands how earning the PMP credential can significantly impact a professional’s project management career as well as maintain a competitive edge in today’s job market.
Project Vanguards offers a wide range of professional training and resources to help professionals prepare for and successfully earn the PMP credential. This is why they also guarantee a 100 percent first-time pass rate.
Project Vanguards is the complete resource that you need to help you expand your learning and boost your project management career.