Information Networks and Business Intelligence: Decision Locus and Political Hotbed

Like many things in information technology management, business intelligence is typically implemented in the form of a “project”—that is, a special kind of organizational arrangement set up to do certain specific things over a specific period of time, as opposed to a regular and ongoing part of the organizational structure. If effective, projects often turn into regular structures, but it’s also easy to terminate them if they don’t seem to be progressing.
Projects are critically dependent on a special kind of leadership and administration called “project management.” Project managers need most of the kinds of administrative skills that other managers need, but also usually some fairly specific kinds of expertise to handle the unusual requirements of projects. Undoubtedly, you have all been part of a project at one point or another, so you have some perspective on what project life is like. And it’s highly likely that you already have been or will be designated to be a project manager on some effort or other. It can be a shortcut to the top, but it can also be a professional graveyard if mismanaged. Understanding particular requirements of project management is a key personal skill.
Jonathan Wu has written a short piece on project management outlining specific skills required to do the job well. In fact, it can serve effectively as a sort of checklist for assessing project management skills. Please read his article:
Wu, J. (2005) Characteristics of an Outstanding Business Intelligence Project Manager. Information Management Magazine, May. Retrieved September 16, 2011, from http://www.information-management.com/issues/20050501/1026063-1.html
I have taken the liberty of putting his list of qualifications in the form of a specific checklist that you can use to assess yourself. You can use either the Project Management Skill Set Assessment Excel or the Project Management Skill Set Assessment PDF (they’re identical—click to download).
The exercise calls for you to form an assessment of yourself as a possible project manager and then to, if at all possible, confirm it with another person. Here are the instructions given on the sheet:
When you have completed the assessment, to the degree that you are able to, think about it for a bit; then prepare a short paper describing the following:
• a brief summary of your experience taking the assessment, noting anyone else who was involved and what you did (if possible, attach a copy of your actual instrument)
• the areas that emerged from the assessment as your particular strengths, as shown on the assessment instrument that you’re attaching
• any areas that emerged from the assessment as areas in which you would like to strengthen your competence, also as shown on the assessment instrument that you’re attaching
• anything that surprised you about the results of this assessment, if anything
• what specific steps you could take to strengthen your project management competence—be as specific as you can, in the interests of getting the most value from the exercise for yourself
• your overall opinion of this instrument as a measure of project management competence—what it measures well, anything that you believe it does not measure well or at all
It is really important that you get a second opinion about your skills from someone who knows you, preferably in the work context. If for some reason you can’t get a second opinion as part of this exercise, be sure that you explain well why it’s not possible. Just ignoring this part of the exercise will cost you part of a grade.
Project Management Skill Set Assessment
on a scale of 10=high, 1 = low
Skills (add skills or attributes relevant to your role as applicable) “self-
assessment” 2nd view importance (A/B/C)
1 Knowledgable about technology
2 Ability to recognize what you don’t know and figure out how to get it
3 Experienced in management generally; able to handle regular administrative responsibilities
4 Leadership skills
5 Organizational/political skills
6 Communication skills
7 Personal traits: honest/tactful
8 Personal traits: positive outlook
9 Personal traits: perception/insight

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Use this to assess your project management potential. Initially score yourself out of 10 for each skill in the self-assess column. Then validate or revise your scores in discussion with your boss or someone who knows you. Put these scores in the ‘2nd view’ column – this is your actual assessment. At the same time confirm with the other person the importance of each skill (A, B or C, A = most important) for the job concerned. Your development priorities are therefore the lowest scores in the most important skills.