Project management is gaining ground in business and education. Companies are implementing project management in their strategies to control even the smallest of the processes affecting the general business performance and to avoid project management errors. Regardless of how high project management expectations are, it is rare that everything goes smoothly. As this field develops, we are aware of the huge need for education, the emergence of the project manager role in the labor market, and the methodologies diversity of project management in companies. That is a lot of information from the start, so the time has come to systematize that knowledge.
The project management coach shared his expertise
How do learn project management properly? How to deploy a project-based approach in our own business? How does the role of the project manager and the technological tools support effective project management functions? You will surely find answers to all those questions in the interview below. Dawid Witkiewicz, an experienced project manager, PMO analyst, and project management coach, shared his knowledge with IC Project. That’s a lot of practical and sought-after knowledge — we are strongly encouraging you to read on.
ICP: Why is project management so important for the operation of every business? What does the project-based approach affect and what’s in it for a business?
D: Project management is an effective method for implementing the business strategy and fulfilling the mission of your business. By taking up projects, we carry out our assumptions step by step. The thing about business strategies is that they are sometimes defined at a pretty general level. Only undertaking proper projects will get you closer to their implementation step by step. A project-based approach lets you quickly adapt and evaluate the component effects of being part of the implementation of a strategy.
ICP: What is the level of awareness of the need for projects in Poland? Is our project management departments or the project-based approach a truism for Polish businesses or rather a trick that crops up here and there only?
I can see a growing trend in this area. Businesses are more and more willing to work based on projects. This is an effective way of achieving your business goals. Nevertheless, we still have a lot to learn if we want to be effective, particularly in defining project-oriented goals.
ICP: Should we be ashamed in front of foreign markets? Project management came to us from the West, but are we lagging much behind foreign businesses in this respect?
DD: In fact, we aren’t. Given historical, transformative, and economic determinants, we are doing pretty well. Positive changes are particularly visible in some SME businesses. They are aware that to be competitive, they have to act faster, more efficiently, and more effectively. A lot of trends come to us late, which is an advantage of sorts, as we already know what mistakes to avoid during their implementation.
ICP: Where should your business start from if you are considering introducing a project-based approach to day-to-day work? selection of the methodology, goal setting, training, or employee recruitment? What are the first steps here you could take?
The first question you need to answer is, “What for?” It is the case in numerous businesses that someone hears somewhere about project-based management and a decision is made to introduce such a method. Without an in-depth analysis of the current state, preparation of the team, and presentation of the benefits to be derived from such a solution, it’s no use introducing it. A trend itself is too little to bring about a revolution in your business. Training, retaining consultants, or selecting the methodology are the next steps.
ICP: Do we train our current employees or employ new ones who will employ certain solutions and work designs in our daily activities? Which solution do you think is better?
I’m going for the middle ground here. If there is no project-based work culture, it will be difficult to do everything from scratch on your own. A good solution would be to get assistance from a facilitator or consultant who will support your team during the implementation phase. I think that the arbitrary introduction of a specialist from outside can be met with resistance on the part of the team. And we do not want to slow the pace of our work but to effectively sway our employees to the new working method.
ICP: Is a project manager the key to controlling project-based work in a business? What does a project manager do anyway?
My work involves planning for the most part. A project manager has to be one step ahead of current work and see what to do next. They have to be a step ahead of the team to remove any obstacles to the effective implementation of project-based goals. Their role includes the prediction of possible scenarios and events to make the right decision at the right time, which will bring the team closer to the achievement of the project assumptions and objectives.
Is a project manager key to mastering project-based work? It depends on the position and possibilities of influencing the decision-makers. Even with the best of intentions, the best tools and effectiveness will not bring project-based work to order if the position in the business is low.
ICP: What are the key competencies and skills of a project manager?
D: Good listening skills are essential. You won’t know the requirements of your client if you don’t hear them out. If you don’t listen to your team, you won’t know how they like their work, what the status of work is, or how motivated they are for work. Talking with all parties involved and taking care of clean information exchange is key to avoiding a lot of problems. Technical competencies come with experience, and you have to keep refining them.
ICP: Can you learn project management like a theory? According to you, what is the actual effect of project management training on real-life work? The practice has always been key for me, and no methodology or theory will ever replace that.
D: I am a self-taught project manager who organized his knowledge after several years of postgraduate studies. I think that you can learn many theories and methods, but only testing them, in reality, will give you an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Experimenting with new tools and methods is an interesting element of this line of work. They do not bring about the same effects every single time.
ICP: For you as a project manager, what tools are key in your daily work? An appropriate project management program, a communication platform, a file, and document hard drive, or everything at once? What is your take on this?
A to-do list is the most important thing to me. This is how I can manage them, monitor progress, check statuses, and work with the team so that they are completed eventually. Setting the terms and methods of communication allows you to avoid any issues. It’s good if all this can fit into one tool. This is how we protect ourselves against omitting important aspects such as tasks, messages from clients, or project milestones.
ICP: Do you think that project management market acumen is a major strength in the labor market nowadays? particularly regarding work in the context of project management.
Knowledge of tools is important, especially as ever since the pandemic broke out, we have been working in hybrid teams. New tools are marketed, and it is good to follow the trends and changes. Of course, you can try to manage projects with a pencil and a piece of paper. The question is whether this will be effective. A good, comprehensive tool lets you save time and avoid the need to use a flood of tools.
ICP: Dawid, thank you very much for this interview and lots, lots of subject-matter knowledge!
DŚ: Thank you for having me, as the project management coach I wish you luck on your journey of achieving your project-based goals!