Project Success Relies On More Than Just Certifications And Technical Expertise

There is nothing more frustrating than appointing a project manager to manage a project and then they can’t deliver. You appoint someone under the premise that they’re fully competent based on their impressive CV, citing the right experience and knowledge. Then, after a few months, you find out the project manager couldn’t successfully execute what was required and the project is derailed. You are now facing three problems; the project is late, you don’t have a competent person to take control of it, and you are overspent and behind schedule.

For over 22 years we have been assisting organizations achieve repeatable project success by providing them with competent project personnel. Finding qualified and effective project personnel that can deliver projects successfully is a frequent problem that many of our clients experience. Although there are many project professionals out there, not all of them have the required set of skills to effectively deliver projects.

Two common cases that we observe in the industry are; ‘over-certified’ project managers and ‘accidental’ project managers. The ‘over-certified’ project manager have a string of certifications. They look good on paper but don’t necessarily have the “soft skills” or the ability to practically implement the knowledge they have gained. This results in impressive CV’s and high asking-salaries but once appointed the reality is an inability to lead project teams and to deliver projects successfully.

The ‘accidental’ project manager is a person who finds themselves managing a project without any formal project management training. They might have strong technical skills but are unable to consider the big picture and lack the experience to formally manage a project. This often results in cost and time overruns or incomplete requirements and project rework due to unsatisfied project sponsors (Hunsberger 2011).

The consequence with both these project managers is that the project suffers. We see and hear it all too often, how clients battle to find competent project managers that can effectively deliver projects from execution through to closeout and realize the intended business benefits. Managing a project from start to finish requires more than just the technical skills and tools that project managers traditionally focus on (PMI 2020). Research by Millhollan & Kaarst-Brown (2016: p.90) found that “Earning a certification may provide evidence of experience and knowledge; however, holding a certification does not always provide evidence of an IT project manager’s skill or his or her efficacy.”

We don’t disagree that being the holder of a project management certification is an indication of some level of baseline knowledge; however, this doesn’t mean that the project manager has the necessary ‘soft skills’ to deliver a project successfully (Millhollan & Kaarst-Brown, 2016, p.90). The PMI’s Pulse of the Profession® (2018: p.17), found that “four in five respondents reported that soft skills, such as communications, leadership, and negotiation, are more important today than they were just five years ago.”

We can therefore infer that certifications and technical skills aren’t the only things that make you a successful project manager, you must also possess the ‘soft skills’, the right experience in managing projects, and the ability to mobilize people. Project management is a soft science, and although many understand the theory, they don’t know how to apply it. With our extensive experience in projects, we know what to look for in competent project professionals. We conduct psychometric assessments, ask critical questions in our interviews, and have designed our own competency assessments that our candidate consultants must successfully complete.

We promote life-long learning through internal training and team knowledge sharing sessions, ensuring that our consultants constantly exemplify the key set of competencies of a successful project manager. Through our managed service we empower our project professionals to deliver projects from execution through to closeout.

Executives don’t have the time to constantly check up on their project managers. We ensure quality performance through regular internal consultant reviews. When you hire a project professional, you expect that person to have the required knowledge and skills to hit the ground running.

Contact us for peace of mind, let us restore your faith in project managers by providing you with the repeatable project success that you seek.


Hunsberger, K. (2011). The accidental project manager. PM Network, 25(8), 28–33.

Millhollan, C., & Kaarst-Brown, M. (2016). Lessons for IT project manager efficacy: A review of the literature associated with project success. Project Management Journal, 47(5), 89-106.

PMI, 2018. Pulse of the Profession. Success in Disruptive Times | Expanding the Value Delivery Landscape to Address the High Cost of Low Performance. Available at: [Accessed 06 October 2020].

PMI, 2020. Pulse of the Profession. Ahead of the Curve | Forging a Future-Focused Culture. Available at: [Accessed 02 November 2020].

Leave a comment

Share on facebook
Share This Post
More Articles

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Thank you for completing the Maturity Assessment.

Your score will be emailed to you shortly.