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Author  David Smallwood – Director, e-careers

February 4, 2021 |

 3 min read

  • Blog
  • Project management
  • Skills

When is a non-project manager a project manager? When it’s not on their business card, but project management is what they do anyway.

While teaching a PRINCE2® course to (mostly) project managers, there were two delegates working in events who said: “We’re not really project managers; we were just sent on the course.” However, when the two explained their job roles, what they described was textbook project management activity.

It was a lightbulb moment for everyone on the course as people often only think about their “job” or a “piece of work” when they actually run projects. Conversely, others incorrectly call a standard piece of business-as-usual activity a project.

Professionals such as events co-ordinators, interior designers, marketers typically wouldn’t refer to themselves as project managers, but that’s what they do – and the skills contained in PRINCE2 are what they need.

The value of a project management method

According to PRINCE2 a project is a temporary organization created for the purpose of delivering business products to an agreed business case.

So, for example, an event manager needs to understand the event requirements, obtain costs, deal with suppliers and get all the pieces in place within the budget and time constraints – and ensure any issues on the day are resolved to the client’s satisfaction.

This approach follows a project lifecycle, which makes the event management company a project-oriented organization and the event manager, effectively, a project manager.

If the event manager’s boss expects the employee to just “get on with it and get it done”, it misses that fact that there is a method and structure available to allow more control and make life easier.

Project management in practice

Opening a box of IKEA furniture and finding there are no instructions means it will take you a lot longer to assemble the furniture – and not without some degree of stress or errors.

Therefore, when delivering a “product”, adopting a project management method like PRINCE2 gives you the tools to heighten the chance of doing it successfully.

Taking the event management example again, there’s always a risk of suppliers failing to arrive on time or not showing up at all on the day. However, the PRINCE2 approach helps you to identify such risks in advance and to mitigate or control them. You might decide to have an entire plan B if the worst happens to your event.

Ultimately, anyone running projects in any organization can benefit from the PRINCE2 method in a number of ways:

  • It allows you to understand customer needs and ensure the business case remains justified throughout the project
  • A solid, structured approach provides added confidence in your and your company’s capabilities
  • It enables greater control plus the ability to predict what might happen and mitigate for it.

If 2020 has taught us anything professionally, it’s that the unexpected can change almost everything about the way we work.

However, project management training instils the capacity in people to adapt much more quickly, even if they are accustomed to stability and relatively little change at work.

Many organizations are still on a journey to recognize that much of what they do are projects. As their understanding evolves – and they see the need to apply best practice standards such as PRINCE2 – then project management skills will be recognized as universally relevant and not just for those with “project manager” on their business card.