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Presentation on

Project Management Knowledge VS Technical Expertise for

a Project Success
Which is More Significant?

Prepared and Presented By Sally Al-Gazzar

September 2013

2.What is Project Management? What is a Project? Who is
the Project Manager? What are the Main Roles and
Responsibilities of a Project Manager?
3.Pros (Advantages) and Cons (Disadvantages) of a
Technical Project Manager
4.What is the Best Project Management Competency
5.What is the Appropriate Organizational Strategy to
Balance and Develop both Managerial and Technical
Resources? What is Career Ladder?
6.Conclusion and Lessons Learned

1. Introduction
Why did I select this topic?

As project managers, we have to manage various tasks in

multiple lines of work. At times, we operate from our technical
background and convey that knowledge and expertise more
than our project management knowledge.
Many project managers work in two common extremes:
- Process focus "Project Manager hat"
- Technical detail focus "technical specialist or expertise hat"
This is common for junior project managers and for project
managers who are new to an organization. This shows that
those project managers haven't developed their management
style yet .

2.What is Project Management? What is a

Project? Who is the Project Manager? What
are the Main Roles and Responsibilities of a
Project Manager?

The general concept that many people have about

project management is that it is simply managing a
project with the support of special project
management software in some cases.
Going through this presentation, it will be shown
that the new Project Management profession is both
science and art.

What is Project Management?

The project Management Institute (PMI) uses the
(PMBOK) as a guide to the Project Management Body
of Knowledge.
(PMBOK Guide) is a recognized standard for the
Project Management profession.
A standard is a formal document that describes the
processes and practices of a profession.
Similar to other professions (law, medicine,
education), the PMBOK standard recognizes the best
practices of project management practitioners.
From above, the PMBOK has set a definition for the
Project Management as:
The application of knowledge, skills, tools and
techniques to meet the project requirements.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) breaks the

project management into: Process Groups, Knowledge
Areas and Professional and Social Responsibility.

Project Management Process:

A project management process for each project includes;
M & C=Monitoring & Controlling

Project Management Knowledge Areas:

Project Integration Management
Project Scope Management
Project Time Management
Project Cost Management
Project Quality Management
Project Human Resources Management
Project Communications Management
Project Risk Management
Project Procurement Management
10. Project Stakeholders Management

What is a Project?
The PMBOK defined the project as: A temporary
endeavor to create a unique product, service or
So, a project is characterized by:
Time frame: Definite start and definite end.
Project end is defined by either project
completion or project termination.
Unique output: It produces a unique product,
service or result..A project output is not

Who is the Project Manager?

Project Manager: Is defined as the person being
assigned by the project performing organization to
achieve the project objectives: maintaining approved
scope within approved time and cost.
He/She is ultimately responsible for the overall
success or failure of a project.
What are the Main Roles and Responsibilities of a
Project Manager?
Some of the main Project Managers responsibilities
Leading project planning in cooperation with key
stakeholders and project team.
Managing the project team: establishing good
communications with team members, maintaining
their motivation, resolving their issues, clearly






Conducting successful communications with all project

stakeholders and prioritizing their requirements.
Selecting the appropriate process for project
Following-up and reporting project progress to
Measuring project performance and maintaining project
constrains (scope, time, cost, quality, risks, resources
and customer satisfaction).
Resolving project related issues.
Analyzing and managing project risks.
Proper closing for the project including project filing
and documentation.

The project manager is the INTEGRATOR for the project

components into a cohesive hole.

From above comprehensive overview for the Project

Management as a profession and the Project Manager
responsibilities, the below question rises-up:
How Project Managers used to be assigned for
In different organizations of different projects industries
(Construction, IT, Researches & Development), Project
Managers used to be selected within their organizations
mainly based on the so called Halo Effect criterion.

So..What is the Halo Effect?

It is the tendency to rate or rank a person as high or low for a task
based on this persons performance on other tasks.
As an example, interviewers usually rate as applicant for a job at a lower
rank based on the applicants low academic performance and grades.
Often, organizations would entrust their best technical experts with the
duties of Project Management. The high level of technical skills and
experience and know-how that makes them the best in their
respective area is automatically thought to turn them into good
project managers. But often, this is not the case especially after the
growth and development of the Project Management profession in the 80s
and 90s.
A prime example is the selection criterion during the information
technology (IT) arena. The organizations in this arena, used to
depend mainly on the technical expertise for system analysis and
design to manage the IT projects without regard to their leadership

3. Pros (Advantages) and Cons (Disadvantages)

of a Technical Project Manager?
Project management is a challenging job. This is because a
project manager needs to ensure that a project, from
beginning to end, runs smoothly and on time. Therefore
Project Managers need a broad skill-set. They need to
be able to plan, organize, lead, manage, communicate
effectively and be able to deal with anything that is
not going to plan.
A Technical Project Manager howeveris someone who
also comes from a technical background and generally
manages technical projects.Hence they can bring an
extra-dimension to their skill-set.
These technical project managers bring with them
both advantages and disadvantages over a General
Business Project Manager.

Advantages ofa Technical Project Manager:

1. Respect

and Trust of Team Members:

Technical Project Managers speak the same language
astheir technical team members.Consequently,
communication flows regarding technicalities
within the team can be greatly enhanced.For
this reason, it is easier for the Technical Project
Managers to earn respect and trust fromtheir team.


Analytical Management Style (Pattern):

With technical knowledge, they can help gather requirements, help
find solutions, and better able to identify risks. All of these
willgreatly aidthe overall project progress:

They will ask the right questions.

They will have the sense of time needed to perform technical

specialized tasks or overcome and resolve technical problems or
challenges during project progress. This is more important when a
project has a tight time schedule.

They will not allow exaggerated and unrealistic project time and
cost estimates from project team experts either during project
planning process or project executing process.
Accordingly, they can apply the Analytical Management.
Analytical Management: Making technical decisions for the
project which the Project Manager communicates in turn to the
team. Interview-style communication where the Project Manager
asks questions and receives answers from project team is the
best for such Project Managers.

Disadvantages of a Technical Project Manager


High Self Echo:

Technical Project Managers tend to be less peoplefriendly and less business oriented than Business
Project Managers.This is because technical people
have a tendency to prefer technical matters over people
or business.


Deep Involvement in Technical Problems:

This is because a technical person has been trained to
solve technical problems. Therefore, if a technical issue
arises, it can be hard for a Technical Project
Manager to take a step back and allow someone
else to solve it.

This results in the so called (micromanagement).

Micromanagement is a management style meaning to
manage with excessive control or attention on details.
In other words, it is over-controlling project details
especially the technical aspects.
As a result:
Usually, team members become frustrated with their
over controlling Project Manager due to conveying them
the feeling of being not trusted or not reliable to
perform their assigned tasks.

Usually, micromanagement results in conflict between

the roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager
and the team members due to the interference in
their tasks.


and Project Progress:

Technical Project Managers might think they know more than the experts in the
team.This can be particularly unsuccessful as Project Managers as this can have
an impact in different ways:

.Technical project Managers do not apply delegation as they think they are
better than others whereas delegation is one of the most successful project
management styles (patterns).
Delegation: It is a management style where the Project Manager defines goals
then gives the team members the authority to perform their tasks.

will not have enough time to spend on the overall project planning, progress
and solve raising issues and take decisions on time as the project INTEGRATOR.


Communication with Management:

They can find themselves not communicating enough
about technical issues to the Management.This is
because a technical persons learn early in their
career that people who dont have technical
knowledge are not going to understand complex
technical issues. This is associated with the fact that
Management usually wants to hear that things are
going well and on time. Therefore, the Technical
Project Managers can find themselves bypassing
over important technical issues which can easily
create a gap with the Management.

4. What is the Best Project Management

Competency Model?
Since the concept of project management profession as a
combination of both art and science is increasing, the
Project Management Competency Model was developed
from the observable behaviors of successful, professional
Project Managers in a variety of application areas. It provides a
consistent, coherent structure for assessing the capabilities
of current and prospective project managers.
In other words, the Project Management Competency Model
addresses learning needs that are critical to effective and
successful project management.
In line with above, a new competency model was developed by
the Boston University Education Center (BUEC) to help
organizations to determine their Project Managers needs and plan
their training and development to fill any gaps.
Below three charts clarify the main scheme of this model:

Chart-1: Categories


Chart-3: Performance Criteria

Technical Category Project management skills and

knowledge that comprise the ten core Knowledge Areas
identified by the Project Management Institute's
(PMI's) Guide to the Project Management Body of
Knowledge (PMBOK Guide):
Project Integration Management
Project Scope Management
Project Time Management
Project Cost Management
Project Quality Management
Project Human Resources Management
Project Communications Management
Project Risk Management
Project Procurement Management
10. Project Stakeholders Management

Personal Attributes and Interpersonal (Soft) Skills

Category Foundational characteristics that support
a person's project management capability.
This category is particularly important in matrix
organizations where responsibility without authority
is another challenge for the Project Manager. When
team members have a dual reporting structure (to the
Functional Manager and the Project Manager). In this
case, the Project Manager usually finds it difficult to
have influence over team members. Attaining good
interpersonal (soft) skills becomes a success factor
for completing the projects and achieving its
1. Achievement and Action
2. Helping Human Services
3. Impact and Influence
4. Managerial
5. Cognitive
6. Personal Effectiveness

Business and Leadership Category Critical skills that

enable Project Managers to link any given project to
the relationships, resources, and infrastructure of
their organization including: big picture focus, political
savvy (knowledge), strategic positioning, business operations
knowledge, and the ability to build relationships:
A big Picture Focus
Business Acumen
Organizational Savvy
Productive Work Environment

5. What is the Appropriate Organizational

Strategy to Balance and Develop both
Managerial and Technical Resources? What
is Career Ladder?

What are Human Resources?

One of the challenges in a successful organization is the
development of their human resources.
Human Resources is defined as the set of individuals who
make up theworkforceof anorganization,with all the
knowledge, skills and abilities they retain.
In other words, human resources are the employees of an
organization with all their capabilities and expertise.
It is the dedication, motivation, knowledge and skill sets of
individuals that make a tremendous difference in the organization.
Thus, for any organization, the human resources or human
capital are the real asset for their companies without
which, organizations cannot long last or compete.
Due to significance of any organization human resources,
Human Capital" is sometimes used interchangeably for the
human resources to indicate the same.

Are the Career Needs for All Employees the Same?

Different employees have different and diverse career
Not everyone wants to be a manager or leader.
Many people want to be professional only in one area
or in one product
Others want to move into multiple professions and
learn everything they can.
Still others want to follow a path that will allow them to
change the pattern of work as life requires work
hard, slow down, work virtually, or work part time.
Accordingly, how should organizations maintain their human
Organizations should give their employees (human resources)
self satisfaction through giving them the opportunity to
develop and improve their knowledge, skills and
abilities (KSAs) and improve their pay and
compensations accordingly.

For every profession or job family, there should be

work groups to design the career development plans
or Career Ladders. Usually such work groups consist of:
individual contributors, managers and human
resources representatives.
So,,,What is a (Linear) Career Ladder?

(Linear) Career Ladderis a symbol for job promotion.

In business andhuman resourcesmanagement, the
ladder typically describes the progression and
evolution fromentry levelpositions to higher levels of
positions, responsibilities, authorities, pay as well as
relating knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs). The
ladder shows the greatest benefits at the top.
As people differ, a single career path does not fit all the
profiles. Consequently recognized is that energy, resources
and time should be directed to transform a competent
person in a star performerThis is achieved by
following the Dual Career Ladder

What is a Dual Career Ladder ?

The traditional linear career ladder allows human resources

to be promoted along either asupervisory/administrative
On the other hand, dual career ladder programs became
common in thetechnical professions like: engineering,
scientificandmedicalindustries where valuable
employees have particular technical skills but may not
be inclined to pursue a management career path.

When properly managed, these programs can help companies

retain top talent by offering extended career opportunities
while allowing technical employees to remain in their
chosen careers and continue to receive salary
increases by developing their managerial capabilities.
The dual approach says that you can move up the scientific
track and be paid at an equivalent level to a supervisor or a
manager by being a really excellent scientist and bringing
value through innovation, ideas, and scientific leadership. In a
different kind of way, it's a manager of ideas,
technology, or intellectual capital rather than a
manager of people with the administrative activities
typically associated with management.

Examples of Linear and Dual Career Ladders:

Career ladders either being linear or dual should be
properly designed to fit different professions or
specific job family.
Engineers, teachers, nurses, researchers etc, have
diverse career ladders.



6. Conclusion & Lessons Learned:

As the field of research on project management continues to grow, it is
becoming more evident that the success in the role as Project
Manager cannot be attained by depending on technical skills and
know-how only.
Technical skills and know-how are now recognized as one of the
minimal requirements for a successful Project Manager. The need for
excellent interpersonal (soft) skills is a prerequisite for success.
These skills can be taught or trained while being generic for some
Project Managers. Further researches reveal that the leadership
style of the Project Manager directly reflects the outcome of the
Jim Johnson, Chairman of The Standish Group International, Inc. - A
research entity, targeting to improve the chances of project
management success in the field of IT- stated that When projects fail,
it is rarely technical..Projects, like business, fail sometimes due
to poor project management.

In summary,

Managers can be classified into two categories based on their

technical expertise: General Business Project Managers and
Technical Project Managers.


you come from a general business project management side, you

really do need some technical knowledge and general
understanding to work on technical projects. If you come from the
technical side into project management, you really do need some
people (soft and interpersonal skills) and business and leadership

As a Project Manager, you must have team members who have the
necessary know-how and technical details. They must be responsible
for the technical decisions and resulting progress.
As a Project Manager, you must not spend your time on technical
details or resolving technical problems (avoid micromanagement)
and remember always that you manage a team as INTEGRATOR for the
project components into a cohesive hole. Let your team handle their
tasks according to their experience and expertise.

5. Project Managers should know when to use the Project

Manager hat and when to use the technical expertise
6. For successful organizations to maintain their Technical
Project Managers, it is essential to apply the dual career
ladder concept. This is significant for their salary increase,
promotions and continual development.
7. Overall, an effective Project Manager is more significant for
the project success regardless of technical ability.
However, attaining a technical foundation on top of strong project
management skills and knowledge will definitely result in the
strongest combination for a successful project manager. In other
words, the appropriate balance of leadership, management
knowledge, communication on one hand and technical
background on the other hand is the best combination for
the best Project Managers.

Questions & Answers