Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sacred PM Practices – Project Manager Selection

How is a successful project manager chosen? I’d like to say, very carefully. However, my research shows that the majority of project managers are not formally chosen. That is, there is little effort in identifying what the project needs in a project manager, and then matching the project needs with a candidate’s abilities.


  • The selection of only 6 of the 25 project managers could be classified as formal or involving lengthy consideration (i.e., energy was spent identifying needed skills, reviewing candidates, and selecting an individual)

I asked my respondents to comment on the attributes that were important when selecting a PM for a large IT project. The following attributes were identified as selection criteria for project managers for the sample projects:

  • Communications skills – 6 responses

  • Business knowledge – 5 responses

  • PM came highly recommended – 5

  • Reputation for delivery – 5

  • Sound judgment – 4

  • Person was simply available – 4

  • Organizational skills – 3

  • Strong relationship with business community – 3

  • Technical knowledge -2

  • Negotiating skills – 2

  • Demonstrated leadership with business community – 2

  • Maturity level of person – 1

  • Similar work in the past – 1

  • PM was on the project’s steering committee – 1

Please note, some PMs were selected based on a few criteria. The number of responses does not equal the number of projects in the sample.

What do you think about the list of selection criteria? I was shocked at “Person was simply available.” This is an honest response, but weak. I have worked on many projects where “technical knowledge” of the project manager was considered critical. However, technical knowledge of the PM came into play for only two of the twenty-five projects.

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