What is a Project Manager. The role of Project Managers (PM) is becoming increasingly defined, and higher demands are being put on Project Managers within organisations.
With this increased professionalism amongst Project Managers comes upset when the term is misused. The Programme ‘The Apprentice’ can be one example.
Over the last few years, team leaders on The Apprentice have gradually started calling themselves Project Managers, and this has now become an annoying consistent in the series. Trained and certified Project Managers object to the term, citing that The Apprentice undervalues the profession because the candidates don’t use any defined Project Management framework or technique such as PRINCE2®. I also think that the weekly tasks can even be called Projects due to their short and sales-based nature. Via the Official PRINCE2® Manual the PRINCE2® Definition of a Project is: ‘A Project is a temporary organization that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed Business Case’.
Defining a Project
It’s very important for us to recognise a Project before it starts, and to assign a Project Manager to oversee it. It’s important not to make too much out of our terms for example using the word ‘Project’ to everyday, on-going tasks sometimes referred to as work packages.
Try typing “what is a Project?” into Google and you get the definition “An individual or collaborative enterprise planned and designed to achieve an aim”. If you look at it in those terms then, yes, the weekly tasks on The Apprentice can be called Projects. They are collaborative enterprises and they do have to achieve an aim – to make the more money than the other team.
We feel however in the business sense the case is less clear. Wikipedia’s definition of a project in relation to Project Management is “a management environment that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a specified Business Case”. On The Apprentice, the projects are so hurried and seemingly, slapdash, that no real management environment is created. Maybe a more Agile approach should be used when the exact desired work packages, deliverables are less clear and only the benefit is required?
A Project Manager is a professional individual who should be ultimately responsible for the success of a Project as defined above. On time, in scope within budget etc.
The concern is that people in the real world are doing exactly the same as on The Apprentice, and wrongly defining Projects and the role of the Project Manager when something needs to be done within an organisation and someone is nominated to make it happen. Yes, that person is sure to be skilled in the industry and probably a good people manager. They may even get the project done. But, without efficient proper Project Management training, how can they be sure of getting the best results most efficiently?
Whilst The Apprentice weekly tasks can only be loosely described as Projects, the whole series could be. A candidate hoping to win should define this as their ultimate goal and work out what steps they need to get there. Most importantly, they’ll need strong PM skills to be able to adapt their plan to the individual challenges they face each week, making sure they display the strengths that Lord Sugar is looking for.
Someone doesn’t become a Project Manager because they are given the title. You can only become a true Project Manager through training, experience and by recognising the right tasks as Projects.
What’s your opinion about The Apprentice’s concept of “Project”?