Thursday, July 7, 2016

The role of the Project Manager

The crucial Role of the Project Manager:
A few years ago I was indirectly involved in implementing a new database system that would help people store, use and track information more accurately and effectively. Our small team held many meetings, downloaded all the needed software, tested out the product and felt confident that this new database would be a great tool for the company. Our small team of three was fairly new to the company, so we wanted to make a good impression on upper management and help other employees do their jobs with more efficiency. After months of preparation and working out the glitches in the system we decided to share our new system with the upper management and send out this new database tool to company for them to use. At first, the staff was impressed and so was upper management, but soon questions and concerns started to pile up. Have you thought about this? Why wasn’t I considered in this design? Who authorized this project? How do you plan to evaluate and implement this product to outside clients? Our team knew after the first couple of questions, that we had made a great mistake in how we handled and conducted this project because ultimately nothing was implemented by the staff. There were many factors that led to the project’s downfall, but two factors I can identify clearly. First, the project manager failed to involve key stakeholders from the start and second, the group lacked a clear implementation plan and ultimately didn’t plan for resistance.  
Remembering this project and what I know now about the project manager’s role I can see how the project manager at the time never involved key stakeholders from the start of the project. Greer (2010) states that, “if you don’t involve all stakeholders in an active and engaged fashion from the beginning, you are likely to suffer the consequences of rework when they finally figure out what you and your project team are up to…. and they then take action to leave their mark on it!” (p.10). Rework was exactly what our team had to face after we introduced the project. It is crucial from the beginning before the project begins to diffuse the unclear issues about the project. Greer (2010) states “it’s best to do this as a team, in order to avoid conflicting interpretations of deliverables later as they are being created” (p.13). Even though our team was on the same page, we needed an outside viewpoint that could help our team course correct.
Another key issue that we learned in the post-mortem analysis was to always plan for resistance during implementation. Our team should’ve understood the resistance we faced, but an unclear implementation plan caused this confusion. The resistance that our team encountered showed itself in two primary forms. The first form of resistance that we faced was a lack of understanding and buy in from the staff about the project itself . The organization had a vision to strategically transform the staff through this database, but each employee at the organization didn’t even understand the vision they were trying to cast. The staff resisted because they didn’t understand the need to change and they were unsure of what the change could mean (Hitt, Miller & Colella, 2009). This lack of understanding also led to the second form of resistance that our team encountered, which was a loss of trust (Beach, 2006). When our team didn’t involve upper management and the staff within the change process it created a self-preservation culture and a loss of trust was fostered. As Lee (2008) clearly points out that “when managers hoard information, or tiptoe around the truth more employees must read between the lines for the real messages and their true intent” (pg.24). When our team was faced with these forms resistance, we were surprised because we didn’t anticipate it.  Anderson (2010) clearly notes that the “most fundamental mechanism for sustaining a change is a regular meeting during which team members can come together to share results, perspectives, and opinions” (p.306). Our team, not only needed to meet together, but we needed to include the right people into those meetings from the onset.

Anderson, D. L. (2010). Organization development: The process of leading organizational change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Beach, L. R. (2013). Leadership and the art of change: A practical guide to organizational transformation. (Laureate Education, Inc., custom ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Overcoming ‘scope creep’ [Video file]. Retrieved from
Lee, T. J. (2008). Actions speak loudly. Communication World, 25(4), 24-28.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Hitt, M. A., Miller, C. C., & Colella, A. (2009) Organizational Behavior:A Strategic Approach (2nd ed.) by John Wiley & Sons Inc.


  1. Hi Garth. That sounds tragic! All of the time, money, and effort spent in preparing a project that was not implemented sounds harsh and frustrating. Was the program/database ever implemented and welcomed by the employees? You state that a PM must involve the right people, like the stakeholders, and also have a clear implementation plan, and I am in total agreement with you. A project can only be successful if and when all of the parties affected by the change or the project are involved to help answer questions or feel in the gaps or make more sense of the process. When something is changed, the persons affected need to know what changed, how it changed, why it changed, in order for them to do their job correctly. If they are not involved, they will more likely resist the project, the change, and all of the work would be for nothing. Planning for resistance is also key to the success of the project. If you plan ahead of time, then you can avoid so much re-work because of the backup plan in place in case the first plan did not work.
    Good Post!

  2. Garth,
    It's unfortunate that this happened and you experienced such resistance in your organization. It sounds like you know now how to approach this project differently should you need to. One of the things that I am such a proponent for is including end users and so called "change champions" in any project that I work on. These individuals are able to do the "evangelizing" for you while you do the hard work of making the project run smoothly and efficiently. Murphy (2013) says this of change champions: "The role of a change champion is very important because these individuals will be helping to manage the inevitable ambiguity and uncertainty associated with implementing change." Other key benefits that she asserts about change champions are that they identifying issues on the ground and raise them quickly to the project team;
    gather feedback on the communications campaign and provide feedback to the change team; and identify key resistors of change (Murphy, 2013). I think those three benefits alone are extremely valuable to a projects success.
    Best, Dennis

    Murphy, A. (2013). Creating change champions in your organization. Retrieved from