Licensed. Bonded. Insured.
As I sit here on a Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas with the temperature soaring to an all-time record tying 117˚ waiting on the air conditioning repair guy to show up to fix one of our units that apparently died at an inopportune time last night in the middle of this apocalyptic heat wave, I’m pondering this notion. Licensed. Bonded. Insured. I want the first warm body that can fix our A/C right now. My wife is concerned about letting just any stranger in to work in the attic of our house without giving him a lie detector test first. She wants me to make sure that he’s licensed, bonded and insured. I get that…because….well, wasn’t there a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode about a contractor who would put little cameras up in his clients’ attics and then later came back to commit heinous crimes at the homes?
Anyway, it does make you think…do you want just anyone that can step in to apparently ‘get the job done’? Or do you want to make sure that they are licensed, bonded and insured? Figuratively speaking, of course. And for project management, do you need a certified project manager to handle the job or will just any relatively experienced individual do? The answer probably is somewhere in the middle…or more likely….’it depends’.
Let’s consider what I think are the three levels of need for project or project-type initiatives…
Experience, experience, experience.
For your highest dollar, mission critical, absolutely ‘must get it done and get it done right’ projects…go with experience. These don’t come along that often. Well, there are plenty of them out there, but for an average organization there’s probably not more than three or four of these going on at any given time…maybe even only one. For these it doesn’t matter whether the project manager is certified or not…what matters is that they have the experience to succeed. That means they can manage the project and team and be counted on to have their head in the game at all times. They can represent the organization well and handle any key function or public address that such an engagement might require. Their leadership and reputation is above reproach and you know that when you hand them a project that if they don’t end up succeeding…then it’s pretty likely that no one else could have possibly succeeded either.
Give me someone certifiable.
There are times – more so on government contracts that have this requirement as part of an agreement – when a certified project manager just has to be the choice. Or your organization is making such a push in that direction that hiring anyone who wasn’t certified would be hypocritical. I feel that experience always trumps certification, but I understand when the call must be for a certified project manager. Certification documents some key experience, an understanding of approved methodology and practices, and a common language among project managers. There are times when it just makes good business sense to go this route and only this route.
A warm body will do.
Finally, for this scenario you have a short-term project that just needs a leader. They may be a reluctant PM. They may be a one-time PM never to wear that hat again. Or they may be the least experienced PM you can ever imagine – just now starting out on their PM career adventure. The important thing is that you need someone at the helm and this is your man.
Some jobs call for the best. Some call for detailed career documentation to meet some sort of project criteria – just as some technical work requires certain levels of certification. And sometimes you just need someone who can logically do the job and at least fill the shoes for now. What we must do is understand that need and address it – finding the appropriate skill level, knowledge level, and experience level for the job.
By the way, in case you’re wondering…our air conditioning guy did show up and he was licensed. But he didn’t get the job done…he’s coming back tomorrow with a new circuit board so I’m holding out my opinion on his ability to do the job until our upstairs temperature is back to 78˚ where it needs to be.