How many times did you hear about job role called: JUNIOR PROJECT MANAGER? Friend of mine (who is very, very experienced Project Manager) always gets angry when he hear this. He says: “There is no such a thing like Junior Project Manager. It is Project Assistant”. But, let’s not argue about naming convention. Junior Project Manager is a person who has a little (if any) experience about Managing Projects. This person should become Senior when he/she will get enough experience to Manage Projects alone.
BUT! Very often I see an ad, when someone is looking for Junior Project Manager, and the job description is something like: “We are looking for Junior Project Manager who will be responsible for managing complex Projects in complex environment. This person should have a very good knowledge about PM and: SQL server, C#, Database administration, Network security, .net, UNIX, Windows,…..”. Yes, I’m not kidding. That is what I usually find. I would fire the person who wrote that kind of ad. Why? Because, no matter if you are junior or senior, you cannot have all this knowledge. And, btw, why should PM has those knowledge? To write a code? To administer network? To administer database? This is insane. Project Manager should Manage Projects. He/she is responsible to fulfill requirements, to be on time, on budget, to solve many issues which will come on the way. Project Manager in complex projects has enough work on this issues whole day, every day and other members of the team are responsible for the rest of the work mentioned above.
Now, JUNIOR! If you are junior than you must have a mentor! On your first, second, third… Project your Mentor is to guide you, to teach you, to help you, to correct your actions. And only after you (as a Junior Project Manager) will pass few Projects with your Mentor you will be able to manage your first Project alone. BUT not large and complex one.
If you disagree with that, let me set a scenario for you. Let’s say that you have to go to surgery. And you have a young, junior surgeon. And you know that he/she is without experience (or with a little experience), and he/she will running very complex and complicated surgery on YOUR BODY. Will you agree with that? Will you let that unexperienced surgeon to tech himself/herself on your body? No, you will not! And did you ever hear that in a hospital junior surgeon is running complex surgery? No, you did not!
So were is the difference between surgery and a Project? In a surgery there is a great chance that a patient will die! And nobody what to accept that huge Risk! In a Project, there is a great chance that a Project will fail and you will face angry client. But still we often see Junior Project manager running complex Project! Why? Because it is much cheaper to hire Junior than senior. Is it? At the end of the Project it is NOT! And second reason is because Manager has greater influence on Junior than on Senior. Senior will always fight back! And he/she should! That is the job of Project Manager. To protect the Project against anyone!
For the end, who is Senior Project Manager? Is it someone who run 100+ Projects, on which more than 90% failed? Or vice versa? Senior Project Manager is experienced person who know how to run Projects, who can proof that he/she has run a lot of those with success! Anything else is wannabe Project Manager.
Have a great day!