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Project manager – part 8 - Appointment


Under PRINCE2® the appointment of a Project Manager is made by the Executive, who in turn, is appointed by the commissioning organization - typically corporate or programme management.

The appointment of a Project Manager allows for the project to be managed on a day-to-day basis on behalf of the Executive.
The Executive may need to consult with, and gain agreement from, corporate or programme management when appointing a Project Manager.

This is described under PRINCE2 2009 [see Starting up a project – Activities - Appoint the Executive and the Project Manager] Under PRINCE2 2005 this area is covered in the process 'Starting up a Project (SU)' and within the sub-process 'Appointing an Executive and Project Manager (SU1)'.

Any appointment will be supported by a detailed job description containing all of the key features of the position.
In addition, you will be trying to appoint a project manager that has a high standard of professional competence in a way that promotes ‘best practice’.
You may wish to consider some of the following.


The individual’s qualifications and experience will be a key factor.
Asking for a particular minimum can be used to filter initial hopeful candidates.
For example, you wish to narrow the applications to those having qualifications in PRINCE2.
You might even quote that specific examination passes are required.

Experience required

It would be very common to request a period of experience, for example, 2 years actual project management time.
This might include specific experience within a particular industry or area, for example, contract negotiations or health and safety.
These aspects may not necessarily exclude suitable applicants but may be addressed as an ‘advantage’.


It is worth considering how you might manage the interview process.
For example, you may wish to invite persons for interview with only 1 weeks notice.

This will put the potential candidates under a little pressure, making them focus on the salient points of any presentation.
The position of project manager will have its fair share of pressure so it could be useful to see how the candidates perform.

In addition, you may want to provide some guidance as to what is required at the interview.
For example, you may to limit the presentation to 40 minutes and 20 minutes of questions.
Again, this will help focus the presentation on key issues without it going off track.

Interviews longer than 1 hour may tend to lose focus.

You may wish to provide other information, such as:

  • The nature of the project
  • Budget
  • Size
  • Target dates
  • Current internal expertise
  • Organizational structure

The reporting structure

How the Project Manager interacts with other parts of the organization should be clear.
This should be supported by an organization chart.

The Project Manager reports to the Project Board under PRINCE2 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’].

Prior to any interviews and drawing up a job description it is a good idea to seek the views of other stakeholders.
These may include the client and other senior managers.

Terms of reference of the appointee

A definition could be:

‘A document specifying the scope and details of the activity to which it refers and any conditions relating to the appointment of a person(s) to undertake the activity (usually used in relation to the supply of professional services).’

In this case, rather than referring to a project it refers to all the conditions under which the Project Manager will be employed.
As well as some of the points raised here, it would contain the period of notice required if the individual leaves the job for any reason.

This is, in effect, the contract of the Project Manager with the organization.
As such it will clarify the role of the Project Manager.

Authority limits

The limits of authority must be defined and communicated.
The Project Manager will be expected to run the project by exception.
This suggests that he or she will carry on until an issue arises that the Project Manager is unable to make a decision on.

Until the full impact of an issue is known the action plan to mitigate or eliminate it will be unknown.
Therefore, any resource and cost implications will be unknown as well.

Regular meetings with the Project Board will allow the Project Manager to resolve issues that he or she is unable to progress.
There must be a clear definition of any budget limits the Project Manager can access.
This will be dependent on the nature of the project and as such is unlikely to feature in the job description which may be more generic.

Personal qualities

These are the traits that you would expect in a person that you would like to drive your project forward.
These would include such aspects as:

  • Drive and enthusiasm
  • Good communicator and interpersonal skills
  • Flexible approach
  • Good problem solver
  • Confident decision maker etc

Leadership and other skills

A successful Project Manager will have excellent leadership skills.
He or she will have high standards of time management and possess good motivation skills.
A good grounding in risk management techniques would be extremely useful.

These skills are discussed in much more detail in 'The Complete Leadership package', 'The Complete Time Management package', 'The Complete Motivation package' and 'The Complete Risk Management package'.

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