How Do People Become Project Managers?

The Projects@Work site performs a monthly survey and the July’s questions were very interesting for me because they brought very interesting answers.

Question No. 1: Did you pursue a position in project management or did you “fall into it”?

  • By choice: 30%
  • By accident: 70%

What does it mean? It means that the upper managers still don’t appreciate the role of the project manager. They don’t raise and don’t educate people to be ones. The position of the project manager is still filled “on the fly”, most often by technical persons (in the case of the software development – by senior programmers). I have such observation among some Bulgarian software companies but the results of this survey show that the situation is not much better in the United States either.

I’ve seen another example, too. A guy asks to be a project manager and the upper manager says: “Oh, you’re too ambitious. I can’t allow you to take this position. Tomorrow you may ask to sit in my chair. No way!”

Question No. 2: Did you have formal project management training before your first assignment?

  • Yes: 15%
  • No: 85%

The answers to this question explicitly confirm my opinion that the company management totally neglects the profession of the project manager. They don’t understand the importance of this role and they don’t develop their human resources for that. It seems that the management considers the role of the PM as the “necessary evil” and they have PM’s just because it’s a common notion.

If you pay a closer attention to the numbers you’ll see that the people with a formal training are twice less than the people who intended to be project managers. It means that even among the people who really want to develop themselves into our profession only half of them have the chance to get a formal professional training. It wouldn’t surprise me if there is some data showing that a significant part of the people who had formal training have paid for it by themselves.

Question No. 3: Do you consider project management a long-term career or a “stepping-stone” in your professional aspirations?

  • Career: 60%
  • Stepping-stone: 40%

At the end, the answers to the last question show me that the most of the project managers like their job and they consider it to be their future career too. No matter how unappreciated the profession is, we still like it; it gives us the feeling of doing something important, of significantly contributing to the project’s (and respectively – the company’s) success, of creating something useful for the customer, something that makes their life better.

As I said before, I have some observations among the software companies in Bulgaria but I would like to gather some information “from the source”. That’s why I am asking you – my readers – the same questions (a little modified only to take less space) in order to see if the results are the same in other places in the world. I believe most of you are from Bulgaria but there are also people from all over the world and everyone’s opinion will be useful.

Is it the same in your company? Or in your country? How can we prove that the profession of the project manager is important and that one of the sure ways to increase the probability of a project’s success is to have better trained and motivated project managers?

If you are a project manager or you are somehow involved in project management practices or in software development, or you just have an opinion on the subject, please, answer the questions on the sidebar or send me your comments. I would greatly appreciate that.


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