What value do you bring to your organization? It’s sometimes hard to communicate that in a tangible way to others, so the following article provides insight into how you can determine your value as a project manager…and even tell others about it.
I was recently heading back from a business trip and was waiting to board the plane. We were all standing in the jetway, the line slowly inching forward as everyone boarded the plane, stowed their luggage and found their seat. It’s always interesting to me how loud people talk in that moment.
Maybe their voice echoes a little in the enclosed chamber of the jetway, but you can clearly hear people making dinner plans, talking about how abysmal their meeting was, and a host of other topics that the rest of us really aren’t that interested in.
Two sales guys were about six feet ahead of me. They fit the classic stereotype of the glad-handing, happy-go-lucky, I’m-your-best-friend type of sales person. They were also very loud, since it didn’t take much effort to eavesdrop on their conversation from six feet away.
“Yeah, I missed my quota this month last year,” said one of the sales guys, “but this year I blew it out of the water! I’m on track for bringing in $29,000 this month. My boss doesn’t know it but I’m going to add another $10,000 to that number. I’m 150% over where I was last year at this same time,” he gushed.
“Good for you,” said the second salesperson. “I’m not quite where you’re at, but I’m going to have a decent month as well. Plus, I’ve got a lot of deals in the works that will come in next month.”
As I’m standing there along with about 30 other people, I couldn’t help but think how easy it was to determine the value of a salesperson. It’s just a numbers game. Nowhere else in business is the score kept so easily. These guys either bring in the dollars or they don’t.
It’s as simple as that. There’s nowhere to hide. Every day, week, month, and year they start over from zero and need to make their number again and again.
It got me to thinking about how the value of project managers is measured. Fortunately, most of us don’t have sales quotas to meet. However, this is changing in some enlightened organizations that understand everyone contributes to the top and bottom lines.
Are there objective measurements that project managers can use to communicate their value to others? I believe the following four suggestions are tangible ways to establish your value as a project manager.
Each project you are assigned has revenue associated track your revenue with it. The easiest number to track is the one that comes in from a client.
It may be a $250,000 project to build and implement a custom software solution for their company. Put a simple spreadsheet together for the purpose of tracking this revenue. You may not have been directly involved in the sale of the project, but you are directly involved in the delivery and execution of it.
Your company will most likely not get paid in its entirety until this project is complete, and you are an enabler of this cash flowing from the client to your organization’s coffers. Is there value in this as a project manager? You better believe it!
The key is to get your hands on objective metrics even if the project is internal. Find out how much money this project will save, or how much less time it could take people to complete their work. All of these numbers add up, and will you have had your fair share in making each project a success.
Think how different your employee review would be at the beginning of each year if you had tangible metrics. It would transform your annual ritual response from “I managed nine projects this year and brought them in on time, on scope, and under budget” to “I managed projects that delivered $3M in value to the company and reduced work effort by 25%.” Now that’s something your reviewer can get excited about!
2. Track Your CSI
We’re not talking about detective work or client satisfaction collecting DNA samples (although sometimes that’s the way we may feel about some of the projects we’re managing). Rather, we are talking about tracking your Client Satisfaction Index, an intangible and unofficial way of determining how well you are getting along with your clients.
Here’s how you calculate your CSI: determine how many clients (internal or external) you work with.
Write their names down on a sheet of paper and for each person, ask yourself these questions — Do I cringe whenever I see their name show up on caller ID? Do they cringe whenever they see my name show up on their caller ID? Or, do I really enjoy working with this client? Are our meetings productive? Do I have a good relationship with their management? Does my management have a good relationship with their management?
You’ll quickly see a pattern develop as you go down the list. If you find that you cringe every time you see their name on caller ID, you need to do something about that. If you really enjoy working with them it means that you are creating value as a project manager. People enjoy working with people they like. This means there is potential for future work, additional opportunities, and it just makes your day that much better. Those relationships are another measurement that speaks to your value as a project manager.
3. Track Your Influence
Influence is another intangible aspect of being puppet master influencing employees a valuable project manager, but it’s critically important. Most managers work in matrixed organizations. This means they have the blessing and the curse of not having anyone report to them directly.
It’s a blessing to not have to worry about employee reviews, scheduling time off, and other drama associated with managing people directly. It’s a curse because you don’t have direct influence over what and how somebody will do something.
That’s where your influence as a project manager comes into play. Is it painful when you ask somebody to do something for you? Actually, not even for you…but rather for the project? They may be assigned to your team but you dread asking them to do something.
You know they are going to whine, hem & haw about all the reasons they can’t get something done. This is indicative of a low level of influence, and may marginalize your value as a project manager. On the other hand, if you ask people to do something and they get it done before they even agreed to…then you’ve got some real value as a project manager!
4. Track Your Demand Level
A final way to measure your value as a project manager is to determine if you are in high demand. Do you specialize in bringing certain types of projects to completion in no time flat? Good.
Every time that type of project comes into your company’s doors you are going to be the first one they call. “We’ve got to have [insert your name] run this project. There’s nobody else that can do a better job. She knows all the ins and outs and nuances of getting this done right the first time.” Is there value in this type of reputation? Absolutely!
The opposite of this is true as well. If you are overlooked or end up sitting on the side-lines while everyone else is playing the game, you may want to re-evaluate what you need to do bring more value to your company.
The above four ideas may not translate quite as black and white as the numbers a sales person has to hit, but they are a good start to establishing your value as a project manager.
Who knows, we might even meet in a jetway someday and be able to vociferously talk about our CSI, Influence, and Demand levels on the multi-million dollars projects we managed last year!