There are two troubling observations I’ve made in the last few weeks by looking at job postings, talking with people at our local chapter meeting of the Project Management Institute (PMI), and talking with people at a few other companies. First, there are a number of people who have the title “Project Manager” when they aren’t doing project management, and second there are companies advertising to hire a project manager when that’s not really what they want.
A good project manager is a scientist who uses math and empirical data, rather than guessing and gut feelings, to schedule every task in a project; figure out what resources will be needed when; analyse the sort of setbacks you might encounter and what should be done about them; and help make sure the project is done on time, on budget, and done completely.
But when a lot of people think about what a project manager does, they look for someone to take the phone calls from the customers, make sure appointments are scheduled and milestones are put on the calendar, remind everyone about those milestones, and generally keep all the paperwork straight.
Those are all incredibly valuable tasks that need to be performed, but that’s not what a project manager does. We seem to have lost sight of how important a good administrative assistant is, and what all they can do, which is bad for both admin assistants and for project managers.