What you need to do is convince the executive you are the person for their project. Being an 'elevator speech' you need to get this into a few sentences. Usually these people are very busy, so time is a premium to them. You need a few well-chosen words to tip the scales in your favour.
In a recent conversation with a senior executive it was clear he didn't understand the stages of a project or how to kick-off. I spent 10 minutes taking him through this. Once he had the basic roadmap in his head he was happy and we got started.
It's useful to identify the major worries the executive has and address these. Is he or she concerned about keeping within a tight budget, delivering on time, quality of the product, or something else?
To address your points:
Project life cycle definitely, it's easy to assume people understand this when often they don't.
I've never come across an executive whose major concern was quality before the project started.
Risks and issues is certainly an area to touch upon. Concentrate on how you will identify and manage them, rather than the real risks and issues, which you probably haven't identified yet.
On your last point, concentrate on how you intend to kick-off the project and your next steps. Take control by saying something like, "I'm going to arrange a kick-off workshop right after this meeting". Be careful when taking control that the executive is in a place where you can close the deal.
The executive wants to know, or at least think, you are a safe pair of hands, and he or she can leave this project with you without having to worry it will fall apart.
Sorry for the rather protracted reply.
Thanks Duncan, understood.
Your point about the project kick-off is a strong point to mention I feel. I didn't fully take on board that this scenario was pre-project, hence me not mentioning anything about the kick-off.
Hi all, it seams to me, a project manager is more like a diplomacy worker (between a customer and engineers) and very little like a software engineer itself. At least it was like this when I worked for project management software several years ago. It doesn't mean PM needs no knowledge of coding - vice verse! One doesn't need to be a programming guru to manage the project successfully.
I like your article, Duncan, you made very precise.
In my opinion, a project manager should have a solid understanding of approaches across all disciplines. There is no need to have a practitioner-level understanding, because that is what the practitioners are there for. Project managers are meant to understand the work effort, scope and timeline and communicate project details with a level of knowledge that keeps clients informed.
If you're a project manager and you think you can do the job better than the person assigned that role on your team, you probably have issues.
Well stated Duncan. I get amused by postings for project managers on technical projects where it is obvious they are really posting for the software engineer to be the be-all end-all on the project. If you want a software engineer, then just say that. A technical project manager will be more successful if they have a tech background, IMO. They'll come across far more credible to team and customer - less need to 'prove themselves' worthy. But if you want someone to code, that should not be the PM. If they are buried at that level of detail, they will never successfully 'manage' the project.
By reading that title I have already concluded that I've got what I was looking for. Your post is absolutely right and I agree with that. With the help of certification well it is true that a person can be a project manager as the certificate indicates that the person is eligible enough to handle this.
I'm sure it's different with every project manager and depends on your background. No IT team is going to want their project manager touching anything technical if they have no experience with it. I have the technical background and have only really managed technical projects, but I've only really performed any hands on tech stuff on maybe 5-10% of the projects I've managed...maybe even less. And when I have, it's been fairly minimal.