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Project Managers – The Conductors of the Orchestra

Have you ever tried to explain your role as a project manager to someone who has no project management experience and make a case for your organisation to invest in a decent PPM tool?

I had to have that “interesting” discussion a while back and after some considerable thought (and frustration on both sides) I hit on the analogy of an orchestra and described the project manager as the conductor and PPM tools as their baton.

Like conductors of an orchestra, project managers bring together all of the varying personalities and disciplines needed to make the project successful and when it works, beautiful music is the result.


Similarly, when it goes wrong a cacophony ensues.

Great project managers make the delicate balance of running a project look easy, resulting in people thinking that anyone can do it. In my experience, the opposite is true. It takes a very special person to be a great project manager, and I say that as someone who has discovered they are NOT one.

What do PPM tools bring to the table? To reuse the orchestra analogy – I think of the tools as the baton that enables the conductor to produce the beautiful music. The tool is the place where the project manager goes to get all of the latest information on the project, run reports and make any changes to schedules, logs and project documentation.

Like the conductor’s baton the PPM tool should be flexible, easy to use and configurable. Most importantly, it should be able to do its job without adding additional burden, either to the project manager or the project team.

Was I successful in explaining the role of a project manager? Yes. Did I get a decent PPM tool? Not on your life! They were still running the programme using spreadsheets and post it notes when I left, which is a shame when there are so many great PPM tools available. Including but not limited (I wish) to Psoda.

How do you explain your role and tool needs? Share your stories here!

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