The project manager must build a team of individuals that possess different skills but complementary values. Developing a cross-functional team has its challenges because members have different backgrounds and come from different disciplines. This requires the project manager to unite members for the common good of the team and the success of the project.
The project manager must also be well versed in conflict management and the art of negotiation, because these skills come into play more often than expected. Yet oddly, many managers remain only lightly trained in these capacities, if at all.
As with all outstanding project managers, good BI project managers are very organized and adhere to the guiding principles of project management. This requires them to develop and submit for approval a formal project plan that encapsulates deliverables, tasks, timelines and budget.
Once the project plan has been approved, the project manager actively monitors the progress of the project as compared to plan. One way to communicate the status of the project is to hold weekly status meetings that include all project team members, the project sponsor and the project steering committee. By conducting these regularly scheduled meetings, all involved individuals are informed of progress made and outstanding issues.
To be an effective leader, an individual also must be a great communicator. An outstanding BI project manager conveys his or her messages and ideas in an articulate manner that resonates with the target audience. This requires superb writing abilities and verbal communication skills. Imagine working for an individual who is a poor communicator. In addition to dealing with the frustration of not understanding what is expected, the lack of clear communication poses significant risk to the success of a BI project. Clear and concise communication is required in order to garner support for the solution by the user community.
The success of a BI project directly corresponds to the effective usage of the solution. If users do not understand how to use the solution or the benefits that it provides to them, why should they change their behavior and daily activities? Effective communication is essential to managing expectations, educating users and encouraging individuals to embrace the BI solution.
From my perspective, there are a few personal traits that distinguish good project managers from outstanding ones. First, there is honesty and the desire to be forthright in communications. The outstanding project manager understands the balance between being brutally honest to reinforce a position on an issue and being tactful so as to not damage relationships with other individuals. Honesty fosters trust and respect from the project team and the sponsors.
Second, outstanding BI project managers are positive in their disposition. This is different from being an optimist. An optimist always hopes for the best despite the reality of the situation, and he or she may not appreciate or discover issues until it is too late. On the other hand, a positive disposition includes a healthy amount of skepticism and an understanding of the realities of the situation.
Third, outstanding BI project managers are very perceptive and can identify areas of concern before they become issues. While perception is influenced by experience, the ability to recognize and address these items greatly reduces project risk and keeps the project moving forward.
What it TakesOutstanding BI project managers possess numerous characteristics that are fostered from their educational background and continuous professional education, and are influenced from previous experiences. The common characteristics of an outstanding BI project manager are those traits that distinguish them from their peers. The outcome of a BI project rests with the project manager and his/her ability to navigate the political currents of the organization with the support of the project sponsor and steering committee while creating an information solution from disparate technologies and diverse business requirements.
Jonathan has over 20 years of experience designing, developing and implementing information management solutions. In December 2007, he completed his employment agreement with Hewlett-Packard and is now focused on mentoring start-up companies and investing. While at HP, Jonathan was the Public Health Practice Area Leader within the Information Management practice. In December 2006, HP acquired Knightsbridge Solutions where Jonathan was a member of the executive management team and board member. Prior to Knightsbridge, he was the chairman and co-founder of BASE Consulting Group (acquired by Knightsbridge in 2003), an advisory business services manager at Price Waterhouse, and a senior accountant at Ernst & Young. He is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of California and a Certified Information Technology Professional. Jonathan earned a degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.