A project manager is a project manager right?  Project managers should be able to manage any project.  Well, yes and no.

Do project managers need to be technical experts to manage technical projects? No. The technical content may have some impact and provided a technical expert is there to work with the project manager, all should be fine.

But HR managers recognise that project managers often have to be technical leads in their organisations and may have to be quite specific about who they can hire. 

When the project has already started, HR managers may need to be specific about the style of project manager too; when the approach to the project closely follows one style of method in the organisation.  The project manager is leading and directing the work of the rest of the team, so if they are not up to speed on the method, it can have a major impact on progress.

There are three common approaches to project management in ICT (computing and communication) projects: PRINCE2, PMBoK, Agile. The differences matter in the project manager’s planning, assignment of  tasks and monitoring.

PRINCE2 is one method for project management that has one particular way of viewing what a project manager does. Yes, it should be tailored for each project within the process flow is specified.

Project Management Institute ( has a body of knowledge (PMBoK) on which its entry-level qualification (PMP) is based. PMBoK is also procedural (it tells you what steps to make in a method) and in some places it is different from PRINCE2 – in the detail. 

Agile is a different way of approaching project management: time boxing (a specific number of days scheduled as a development step with a hard deadline) , focus on customer view of requirements, customer involvement, and iterative development.

Knowing all these approaches will develop the project’s manager ability because the different approaches bring out different skills.  However, professional development is rarely why a project manager is recruited.  Recruitment is normally to fill an urgent need for a project manager who can be effective now.

My conclusion? Until we have effective resource planning for project management, we will have organisations recruiting “exact fit” project managers to join projects that are late starting with no time for developing project manager effectively.  That isn’t good for organisations or for the project management profession.


About 3triangles
Helping organisations make change happen in 3 key areas: strategic change, deliver tactical impacts, efficient and effective processes. All blog content (c) 2009 - 2012 Carol Long and Three Triangles Performance Ltd

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