One of the hardest questions I am asked is not one I get ‘on the job’. It is the one I get all the time from family, friends and people I meet at my kids basketball games: “So, what is it that you do for a living?”
For a long time I struggled with a short, accurate yet meaningful response. “I’m a project manager” is too general. “I deploy project management software” is accurate but is a little bit vague for most people.
What I have started saying is “I work with companies on the best ways to manage their projects and resources using Microsoft Project and Project Server.” If their face goes blank and they start looking for a way to escape I leave it at that. If they seem interested in knowing more I break into the more detailed version: “I learn how they decide which projects to do, how they manage them and how they use their people to work on them. Then I work with them on streamlining some of those processes and then on how to model those processes in the software.” By that time even people that love me are ready to talk about something else and I don’t blame them. What we do as Project Server consultants lacks the mass-appeal of a game developer but for our own purposes it is worth examining what it really IS that we DO.
In no particular order:
- Listen to customers about what they do, how they manage their projects and resources.
- Build a picture of what is really happening with their projects, resources and other work. How do projects flow through the organization and\or how does the organization flow through the projects.
- Examine how they are currently using data from their existing processes and systems to make decisions about what projects to start, what projects to keep doing, what resources to use or not use, what projects are costing, when projects will finish.
- Design reporting solutions, in some cases, from scratch to provide usable data to inform the decisions that need to be made
- Be the project manager for the Project Server deployment
- Manage customer expectations about what the system will and will not do
- Understand and model how users will interact with the system and design appropriate security constructs
- Train, train and then when you think you are finished training, train the people that did not think they needed training.
- Workflow design. This one is new to 2010 but it plays into the work we have been doing for years to understand how projects moved through their lifecycles, but now we have some cool tools to automate\enforce the process.
So this list is OBVIOUSLY not complete. I’m hoping to generate some comments from the community to round it out a bit. What are your additions to this list of what it means to be a Project Management Software or Project Server consultant?