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"Project Management" Advice From a Real SME

Austin Powers is one of my favorite movies from years back. Dr. Evil didn’t have it all their in the brain, but yet he had enough knowledge to be dangerous to himself and others. Dr. Evil ultimately failed because he could not outmaneuver Austin. Dr. Evil’s team while formidable was not better than Austin’s team. Dr. Evil’s team could not outthink Austin Powers plain and simple. Dr. Evil got close to defeating Austin Powers, but he could never quite get there.

The question on this morning is does you project have a Dr. Evil lurking about? Does your project have all the right people in place to be successful? Does your project team have the right amount of experience to execute the project? I ask this question because I am a part of an online community of PM’s and we discuss various items….

A PM I had the pleasure of giving advice to was a relatively seasoned PM. She had about 5 years of experience and she was stressed out and at her whit ends with being a PM. She was asking for advice on how to transition from being in a PM role to something less stressful. She was looking at becoming a SME (Subject Matter Expert) in a project management field.

Let me first say this; stress come with the territory when working in project management, but the amount of stress you have in your projects and what you can handle falls squarely on the PM’s experience. It turns out this individual was promoted to a PM position out of college and has been learning as she goes. She never had the opportunity to develop her craft of being a SME in any area of project controls or project management.

Other individual (PM) chimed in and told her that she need not worry and the stress comes with the job (which is true) she does not need to be a SME and that she should manage the team (I disagree with this). This poor lady has to manage a team of SMEs who only answers here questions (There a difference between asking a question and asking the right (specific) question) and not providing her all the information she needs to make a well informed decision. As a result, her “Project Management” wasn’t really impactful as it should be. Also I suspect her team does not respect her because she is not a SME in at least one areas. This does not help her in managing the team as a whole nor the project as a whole. She indicated that she was given more responsibility, but now she was struggling to keep her head above water.

We gave her 2 options either go into a role she enjoys in project management or to obtain formal leadership training.

Having an expert level project controls and project management consulting firm is important. Many PM’s are “Project Managing” a project and not providing the most value to the organization because of lack of experience.

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