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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Will tools make up for an effective Project Manager?

Give a problem statement to two programmers of similar skills and there may not be a complete overlap of their solution.  With so many books on programming, one may think like programming will be an exact science but programmers will claim that it is an art.
Project management is not any different.  The accidental project manager may have come to the profession either due to their excellence in their chosen field or just landed up due to networking connections. Regardless of how they entered the field, they will have to understand the core set of skills.

Project Management Book of Knowledge goes into a lot of techniques, such as activity sequencing, contract types, change control, etc. One has to understand that these are guidelines and operating framework.  Tools such as Microsoft Project and Microsoft SharePoint have addressed a number of these requirements in their software to do resource leveling, critical path analysis, multi-project dependency, document sharing, team collaboration, etc.  

But, the tools don't build credibility for project manager. Think of a project manager that updated the tasks in the Project Plan but failed to provide unambiguous direction to the team or failed to elevate to the management the increasing scope from a client? Will tools address these issues?

Just like knowing SQL Enterprise Manager doesn’t make one write excellent stored procedures or queries or Visual Studio/Eclipse does not make one write flawless code, basic understanding of MS Project or SharePoint alone will not make an effective project manager. Expertise in these tools is a necessary requirement for a project manager but not sufficient for leading successful project outcomes.


  1. These tools are designed to make project management processes more efficient, improve accuracy of computations, and provide needed organization. While extremely helpful, these tools are nothing more than glorified calculators and are only as useful as the project manager utilizing them. The project manager needs to have a solid understanding of the critical concepts of project management and, as you made reference to above, the soft skills necessary to successfully communicate with their team before they begin using tools such as Microsoft Project. It really doesn't matter how nice the Gantt Chart looks if the data was input wrong and the project manager doesn't have the skills to manage it.

    1. Hi Chris, very nicely summarized. I couldn't agree more with you. The tools are exactly that but the project manager should possess adequate knowledge to deftly evaluate the outcome of these tools and be able to take appropriate corrective action.