Managing projects is far from easy, but yet project managers are expected to deliver on time, within budget, and to the customer’s requirements. Project success is even more difficult today because of the uncertainty and complexity caused by technology and globalization.
Project managers must be prepared to meet today’s challenges, and this means possessing strong management and leadership skills. For example, organizational skills alone are insufficient to meeting project objectives.
When given the opportunity, the project manager must select individuals who will commit their time and attention to the project. The interview process is critical and must be given adequate attention by the project manager.
PM: Bob, can you tell me more about your project work experience?
BOB: Yes … sure. I began working on projects about six years ago while at ARP Technologies. We built web portals that managed the supply chain process used by shipping companies.
PM: What type of work did you do on the projects?
BOB: My main job was to collect requirements from the customer. I used a few templates to find out exactly what the customer wanted. When the design work was tricky, I would visit with the client face-to-face, but most of the requirements meetings were done on Skype.
PM: What are some of the challenges you faced when collecting these requirements?
BOB: The main issue is finding out exactly what the customer wants. I had a plan to follow, but I made sure to ask additional questions to learn about the features and functionality they wanted. In other words, I was trying to bridge the gap for the customer. Once we knew the baseline, we could measure progress.
PM: What are skills you used to gather this information from the customer?
BOB: The best skill I recommend is active listening. I made sure not to dominate the conversation. I also made sure to avoid using techie language. Our customers were mostly the business-type, and too much geek-stuff would complicate the discussion.
PM: How did you handle changes on your projects?
BOB: Reject them on the spot! I’m joking! We had a clear process to manage changes, such as the change control board [CCB]. Before going to the CCB, though, I discussed the proposed change with the team. I wanted to make sure we understand the change well.
PM: What problems might you encounter if you have too many changes on the project?
BOB: Scope creep! We need to make sure the changes are necessary for this project. If the customer merely wants some items that are nice to have, we need to explain the consequences, such as extending the schedule and increasing the budget.
PM: How did you handle the situation where the customer was too demanding?
BOB: My approach is to understand what the customer wants. In some cases, they just want to be heard. However, this communication with the customer is essential to project success.
PM: Great, Bob! I appreciate your time, and I will be in touch soon.
In this interview, Bob is hitting the key points. As discussed, Bob is focused on knowing exactly what the customer wants. He is going to listen to the customer’s needs, but following the change control process is important. Even though Bob interviewed well, the PM must follow-up with references before making a decision to bring him on the team.