The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world
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Project Managers wear PRADA

And who says Project Managers do not know fashion couture? How does this tie to what we do daily you ask? PRADA is actually an acronym for a set of characteristics or values that I believe should be inherent in any successful project managers and I have encouraged my project managers to think and use these values in their daily job.

P.R.A.D.A stands for:

Protective

Responsive

Aggressive

Decisive

Accountability (Accountative is not a word is it? ;-) )

Protective
It is important that members in a project team know that I am there in their best interest, while working towards a common objective, like getting the project out the door on time under budget. I am sure all of us have been in situations where your project team members were getting interrupted continuously. Consequently the time allocated to do project work is greatly impacted, the main cause of schedule slippages. It is my job to protect his/her time and hence the project integrity.

Responsive
How many times have you been on the critical path of the project and your team are emailing or calling you at home to ask for advice or you have been calling the project sponsor 3 or 4 times for an answer? It is very important the communication etiquette and expectations are set at the project kick off so that:

1. Your team members know how you will be responding to them

2. Your sponsors’ availability for critical questions.

This will save critical time, especially during holidays when a day late can turn to a week.

Aggressive
I constantly try to raise the team’s performance bar. It is good for the company and the team. Push the envelope a little further than what the team is comfortable with. Be a little aggressive and challenge the schedules or dates proposed by the teams. There are times when members in the teams ‘sandbagging’ their dates. By challenging and asking aggressive dates, you can bring this out in the open. When projects are executed as planned, this builds a sense of team pride, accomplishment and synergy.

Decisive
The last thing your teams want to see you do is to be a fence sitter, unable to make a decision. As a project manager, you must establish the chain of command for decision making. What are you empowered to do and what level of authority you have in decision making as far as the project success is concerned?

Accountability
You must be brave enough to hold everyone accountable when they failed to deliver what is expected. You, as a leader must take accountability for the project as well. If the project tanks, you are the last to leave the ship. There have been numerous situations when the CIO asked me whose head is going to roll if the project or decision made fails and I raised my hand. Taking accountability will garner respect in the organization.

Although it’s still true that some people think that project managers are devil anyway.

Author: Andrew Chan, PMP

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About the Author

Andrew Chan, PMP, Stanford Certified Project Manager, MBA in Project Management, has over 10 years of high tech project management experiences.
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2 Responses to “Project Managers wear PRADA”

  1. Love your style, Andrew! I do think that we have to be a bit of a devil to be an effective project leader. And PRADA captures some real essentials for anyone who wants to be effective and respected by their team. – Kimberly Wiefling, Author, Scrappy Project Management

  2. Disclaimer: I speak as a Software Project Leader with not much experience and as a Software Engineer with many years of experience.

    I agree with the P.R. and D. parts of the article.
    In my experience, with A-Aggressiveness, one has to be careful. My observation has been that most software projects are late. We all start with a schedule build by team members, who ‘pad’ a bit the schedule, not to a point of being unreasonable. Then the PM is aggressive and brings forward the due date. Everybody fails to account for unforseables, for tasks that were not specified on the original schedule. And most of all, nobody allocates enough time on the schedule for integration and testing. Even documentation and comments fail by the waistside.

    As far as A-Accountability goes, I don’t quite understand “If the project tanks, you are the last to leave the ship”. Being accountable doesn’t it mean that the PM should be the first to go? Most of the time, the entire team goes.

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