Welcome to the PMFLashBlog2 Project Management Around the World.  Here is my contribution from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, North America.

PMFlashBlog Round 1 

Welcome to the PMFlashBlog, a Project Management Flash Blog. The idea of a Flashblog is to have a large number of bloggers post an article, in their respective blogs, on the same agreed theme and have them all publish their post at the same date and time.

I unfortunately missed round 1, as I was busy with key projects and business travel.

You can find information on Round 1 of the PMFlashBlog on quantumleap.com, the website of Shim marom, the organizer of round 1.

PMFlashBlog2 Project Management Around the World

Here is round 2 of the PMFlashBlog, and I am happy to participate. I would like to thank Mark Philippy for his effort in organizing this round 2.

This round will actually be a serie of publications. Posts will be published following this schedule:

  • North America : March 3, 2014
  • Europe : March 10, 2014,
  • Australia and New Zealand : March 17

As I am in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, My post is published with the first group on March 3, 2014.  And I am curious to see what my friends project managers around the world.

Project Management Around the World – Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, North America

The theme of round 2 is “Project Management Around The World”.

The objective is to have a discussion on project management around the World. It will highlight project management in different cities around the world and the influences on how we practice, promote and deliver project management on this beautiful planet Earth.

I must say that I had this as a first reaction when I learned the theme of the  PMFlashBlog 2.  I am not sure we can really extrapolate from one experience and conclude on the state of project management in our country. Project management is so wide, covering different types of activities in all kind of industries. My experience relates to my kind of project : I am a CPA, working in audit, finance, business advisory services and special initiatives. It is unclear to me how this can present a view of, let’s say, construction projects, pharmaceutical projects or art projects in Canada.

In all cases, I am happy to share, and I guess the readers can enjoy the posts from the various project managers and make their own conclusion.  I am enjoying contributing to the PMFlashBlog, and I already hope there will be a round 3.

Knowledge and expertise

I decided to discuss a topic that I hope can be applicable to many project managers:

knowledge and expertise

This is a project management flashblog, so one can almost assume that I am talking about knowledge and expertise in project management. But is it? Not necessarily. For many project managers, a project is a combination of two areas of knowledge and expertise:

  • Project management
  • Area-Specific (accounting, construction, arts, software, etc)

The Accidental Project Manager

I am a CPA. As such, I have done most of my projects in project-based organizations. We are of course hired first as expert professional accountants. My expertise is finance, audit, business management and management of special initiatives. Professional competency is first being a CPA. The key reason why I have to perform projects is not because I am a project manager. It is because I am a CPA.

I am not alone. For many project managers, they are first experts in a specific industry. They can be engineer, musicians, builders, software programmers.

Of course, for all of us, the work is organized by projects, and we all know that we must manage projects.   Project management skills are important.   But learning project management usually comes second in the professional development. That is why I sometimes say that I am an accidental project manager.

Area-specific skills

Most project management books almost assume that managing projects is a totally independent profession. Even PMBOK just briefly mentions “area-specific skills” and “other product knowledge”, but then quickly moves on to just focus on project management.

As an example, PMBOK discusses the responsibilities and Competencies of the Project Manager. It discusses the strategic role of project manager and notes that other skills are required:

“However, understanding and applying the knowledge, tools, and techniques that are recognized as good practice are not sufficient for effective project management. In addition to any area-specific skills and general management proficiencies, required for the project, effective project management requires that the project manager possess the following competencies: knowledge, performance and personal.” / PMBOK, p.17

The Transition

For me, and for many others, it actually starts the other way. We learn and develop “the other area-specific skills”, and then work on projects. After that, some just try to do their best (or even excel) with their area-specific skills. Others may realize that they are working on projects and wonder if they can also optimize their results by learning project management. The latter is my path: that is why I say I am an accidental project manager. I first became a professional accountant, and then discovered project management.

As I had to work on various projects, basic, complex, large, impossible, special initiatives, or even rescuing some projects in big trouble, I developed some project management skills. It is then that I decided to learn more about project management.

It actually took a while for me to become very interested in project management and study it more. Finally, in 2012, I decide to explore more intensively project management and lauched this website, Project-Aria.


Thoughts on project management, leadership and productivity

Then, in 2013, I decided to go for it and obtained my PMP certification. I passed the exam in early February 2014.

The competition between 2 forces

I have read a lot about project management in the past years.  Project management is often discussed as a separate field that exists on its own. I am sure some individuals are pure project managers. Project Management is their primary expertise, and this is how they sell their services.

For many, however, project management is the secondary expertise. That does not mean that it is not taken seriously, or that they are not excellent project managers. It just means that they mostly sell their service as expert in a specific area, such as accounting, business consulting, construction, graphic designs, photography, etc.

For these persons, they live with the competing forces of two different areas of expertise. The world “Methodology” and “Standards” can mean different things. It can relate to the area-specific expertise or the project management expertise.  As a CPA, my first priority regarding Methodology and Standards is to comply with the accounting standards.  I also value a lot project management, and I am proud of my PMP, but somehow it is still often my second thought ou set of requirements.

The Challenge

The challenge then of course is to balance these two forces.  It is a challenge of optimization.  How to use properly each knowledge area and combine them together to add value.    After all, a successful project should always add value to the client.

The most common trap is to make the project the slave of a methodology.  By that, I mean it is an error to put too much focus on methodology, either area-specific or project management.  It may ensure a project that is clear from an academic point of view, but it will not necessary make it successful for the clients and the users.

As an accountant, it is possible to provide a perfect financial analysis… and useless.

As a project management, it is possible to manage a project with a pure implementation of project management methodology, PMBOK, PRINCE2, or others… and not deliver the intended results.

The Final Thought

It is essential to add value. It doesn’t matter if we take it from the expertise side or the project management side, a project should add value to a client.  Unfortunately, both from the point of view of the area-specific or project management knowledge, I have seen too many projects that forget why they exist.  Methodology, knowledge, skills and experience (of all kinds) are enablers: they are tools in our backpack that we use strategically and appropriately to achieve the objective of a project.  They are the means, they are not the end.

It is very easy to become obsessed. We can then try to lecture everybody and the client on our view of the world, and the importance of methodology and processes. These are of course, important. They can even be constraints and to add value to the clients, we must be able to enforce some mandatory sections of our expert area (such as construction code, accounting rules, tax legislation, etc).  But we should never forget this:

Project success requires that we have, as project manager, the wisdom to use our area-specific and project management knowledge and expertise to support the objective of our client.

So my friends, be knowledge, both in your area-specific and in project management.  Know as much as you can.  And be wise, use it effectively and efficiently.  focus on the objective and the success of the project.  This is the ultimate success: adding value and achieving results.

PMFlashBlog2 Project Management Around the World

…Now let’s read what others have written for this PMFlashBlog2 Project management Around the World…


the extra box

A good book to study for your PMP

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