What Should I Look For in a Project Manager?

What Should I Look For in a Project Manager?

Icon Article Date

May 12, 2021

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Alex Marzella



We often get asked to help our clients build delivery capability.  Part of this is the capability of the project management community or project managers they hire. “What should I be looking for in a good PM?” What might seem like a simple question has a multitude of facets.

We must first define what success is for a PM. How do we measure the effectiveness of a Project Manager?  We always look at a holistic set of measures:

  1. On-Time Delivery
  2. On Budget Delivery
  3. Business Outcome Attainment:
  • Business case realisation
  • Return on investment
  • Stakeholder satisfaction
  • User adoption

If we take the above as our set of measures various studies have shown that pure technical PM skills will only go so far.  To be truly effective and successful the PM requires a greater set of competencies.  One of the best summaries of the studies was conducted by the Corporate Executive Board and is illustrated by the graph below.

Basic PMs will know how to apply the delivery methodology (follow the bouncing ball), establish a basic project management plan and report on progress of the work.

More established and experienced PMs will be able to tailor the methodology/delivery approach to meet the requirements of the initiative, they can recognise the resources required for the project, allocate the appropriate skill sets to the activities needed to deliver the project and manage the stakeholder groups.

Seasoned professional PMs will go a step further and establish true partnerships with each of the stakeholders and have the ability to pick up new concepts and ideas quickly (learning agility). Coupled with judgement (business acumen) and true ownership of the project ensures that business outcome is attained.

We’ve used various methods to assess the above when looking for PMs. Behaviour interviews are very useful as well as assessment centre approach which combines case studies and simulation exercises.

At IDEE Group we look for more than the implementation specialist who takes direction from the Sponsor or Client. We look for people who are a strategic business partner and will be fully vested in the success of the projects. Great leaders who can motivate others, resolve conflicts, are an effective communicator and are comfortable working in the grey.

Our people are our best asset.