The Accidental Project Manager

How many projects are in your queue?

Projects have become the default way of working for today’s teams. When managing projects and even large-scale assignments, we have to constantly communicate and collaborate with the team. Project managers – official or not – cannot be stymied by time zones, tight deadlines, or virtual hurdles. The reality is, many of us do some sort of project management to get work done – making the majority of workers “Accidental Project Managers.”

This contention is backed up by the results of a recent survey of 200 people based in North America who manage or participate in projects. Not surprisingly, the research found that two out of three participants may not be project management certified. The study, conducted by Appleseed Partners and commissioned by Planview, also showed that for one-third of them, “project manager” is not their primary title.

Infographic: 5 Reasons Teams Fail to Collaborate Effectively at Work

In today’s 24/7 economy, just how many projects are these accidental project managers juggling? The survey found:

  • Two-thirds of teams work on 6-30 projects per year, some large and some small
  • Less than 5 percent reported handling more than 40-plus projects annually
  • Team size varies widely with two-thirds working on teams of 6-15 people
  • 20 percent work on larger teams of 16 or more

Another issue complicating project management is the increasingly distributed nature of teams. Employees are challenged with collaborating across geographies, time zones, and organizational boundaries. The survey respondents indicated that:

Inevitably, these larger workloads and the challenges of communicating with virtual teams can derail projects. In fact, the survey found that people waste nine weeks per year due to poor project collaboration, causing missed deadlines and blown budgets.

Another issue fueling workload frustration is the quality of collaboration tools. Most of the survey respondents said they rely on traditional tools. With the majority using email (73 percent); another 62 percent relying on spreadsheets; and 53 percent playing phone tag – collaboration and productivity are likely to suffer.

Relying on outdated, disparate tools for project and team collaboration is not a path forward for doing more with less. Instead, our ability to handle a greater workload will hinge on our finding smarter ways of working together.

If you find this information compelling, download your copy of the eBook Everyone is a Project Manager, which highlights the survey findings.



Modern teams and accidental project manager – discover the challenges in the ebook.

Download here


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