Roadmap for rookies

for new project managers, mastering all the project management terminology can seem like a full-time job


For new project managers, mastering all the project management terminology can seem like a full-time job. And that's just the start. We asked practitioners:
What do new project managers need to know?


“The first thing to do before diving into the project is to know how the company works. This can destroy or support your success—no matter how much experience you have, you'll be lost if you don't understand how the company works. You need to understand the organization's structure, culture, mission and key stakeholders. During training, ask as many questions as you can and write it all down. Try to find out everything about internal processes, internal and external communications, and project management process. Request copies of any and all documentation, including reports and templates related to your job. Also, listen to your new colleagues. They can help you identify weaknesses in the organization that you can turn into strengths.

If you don't do this research before beginning a project, you can be one of the best project managers in the world, but for the company itself you will be its worst project manager.”

—Fernando Remolina, PMP, project manager, Curaçao Drydock Co., Willemstad, Curaçao


“Communication is the central pillar holding up all project management areas. Project managers are constantly dealing with people involved in the project. Without effective communication with stakeholders, the project will most likely fail. Young project managers must first be aware of the importance of communication skills before they can start developing them. These skills come from experiences. Those experiences may or may not be successful, but the most important thing is to keep learning and adapting behavior accordingly.”

—Mohammed Iben Ayad, PMP, IT project manager, ASAL Technologies, Ramallah, Palestine

An increasing number of organizations are looking to hire project talent—but many are having trouble finding the right fit. Both new and old project practitioners can take advantage of this trend.


Source: Project Management Benchmark Report 2016, Arras People


“The most important aspect of a project is the people—both the stakeholders and the members of your project team. You must know how your team members do their jobs and what makes them productive. You must know the stakeholders to understand their expectations so that they can be managed. The extent to which you understand these people, their motivations and their stake in the project is the extent to which you can deliver a successful outcome for your project.

Also, project management should be deliveryfocused, not process-focused. Every step of the process does not apply to every project. A new project manager who attempts to follow the process to the letter—following every step and completing every template—may waste valuable time with unnecessary processes. This can negatively impact stakeholder relations, project team experience and delivery of the project. You must understand the process well enough so that you know the best way to utilize it to deliver each project as expected.”

—Kimberly Anderson, project manager, Trinity Health, Livonia, Michigan, USA


“Concentrate less on the ‘how’ or ‘what’ and more on the ‘why’ when it comes to tools and practices. Many new project managers become process- or practice-bound instead of learning how to adapt their approach to the needs of a given project.”

—Kiron D. Bondale, PMI-RMP, PMP, senior manager, TD Bank Group, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


“Put yourself in your customers’ shoes to understand their thoughts, requirements, targets and priorities. This will provide a clear vision of your customers’ business needs. There's only one skill that can help you do this—empathy. It is the only way to understand your customer and help your customer understand you.

“Listening properly and interpreting nonverbal communication will help build your relationship with the customer. You must truly pay attention to their details, no matter how small. This level of empathy will become invaluable when an issue or dispute needs to be settled with the customer.”

—Ruben Devesa, international banking project manager, Banco Sabadell, Barcelona, Spain

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“Use your life experience to your advantage. I began my project management career as a young mother, working two jobs and attending school—all at once. As a result, I had to practice negotiation, risk-management planning, scheduling and leadership—daily. I learned that cutting corners on planning costs you more time in the end. Most importantly, I learned that people depend on you to deliver what you say you will, so you have to do your best to make that happen every day.”

—Elizabeth Jones, senior IT project manager, 14 West Administrative Services LLC, Baltimore, Maryland, USA