What project management methodologies leave out

In my time as an IT consultant and implementer, I have been exposed to, or had to use, several project management methodologies. Often these methodologies claim to provide a unique solution to defining, planning, implementing and closing IT projects, however in my view they tend to be fairly similar.

In all cases, these methodologies emphasise the importance of processes to follow, and documentation to be produced and maintained. In the last few months though I have come to wonder whether they omit something critical.

Two project I have been involved in have had a situation where the project has been proceeding satisfactorily but the customer wants the project manager changed because of personality issues. In other words, while the project manager may have been following process and documenting faithfully, he/she has failed to understand the social psychology of the project.

This is the area that I have not yet found any project management methodologies cover – the psychology of project management. It is a common saying that projects usually don’t falter because of hardware or software issues, but due to human factors. In the IT industry we tend to assume that the human factor is something in the customer organisation. What recent experience has shown me is that we need to recognise the human factor in the implementation provider.

I think it is important that project management courses and methodologies cover the handling of personality types that courses on selling and general management have been doing in recent years. One potential difficulty – is the personality of project managers amenable to understanding this?

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4 thoughts on “What project management methodologies leave out

  1. [...]I think it is important that project management courses and methodologies cover the handling of personality types that courses on selling and general management have been doing in recent years.[...]

  2. I think you are right. To be fair, the PRINCE 2 manual does state that the people side of project management is out of scope. But should it be? Many people are taking the PRINCE 2 Practitioner qualification and presumably thinking that makes them project managers. It does not.

    Is there something inherent in a project manager’s mindset that would prevent an understanding of personality-related issues? I don’t think so. The more ‘analytical’ type of project manager might find the human side more difficult, however.

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