This topic may require you to know that a project manager must:
Tell the truth in reports, conversations and other communications
Follow copyright and other laws
Not divulge company data to unauthorized parties
Value and protect intellectual (non-tangible) property
Not put personal gain over the needs of the project
Prevent conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest and deal with them when they do occur
Not give or take bribes or inappropriate gifts
Treat everyone with respect
Follow PMI’s Code of Professional Conduct
Do the right thing
Follow the right process
Report violations of laws, business policies, ethics and other rules
PMBOK Professional Integrity Guidelines
Tell the Truth in Reports
Conversations and Other Communications You should realize what this means. An example is reporting the real project status (e.g., that the project is currently behind schedule) in project reports, conversations and meetings, even if you are asked not to.
Follow Copyright Laws
When was the last time you made a copy of an article or made a copy of a music CD and gave that copy to others? Did you know that such actions could be violating copyright laws? How about taking excerpts from this book, or any book, and putting them in a company report or in the material used for a training class without written permission of the copyright owner? Is that allowable? This is also a likely violation of copyright laws.
International copyright laws give the owner of the copyright the exclusive rights to make copies of the work and to prepare derivative works based on the work. It is illegal to infringe upon these rights—that is, to use the copyrighted work in certain ways without the owner’s permission.
For example, without the copyright owner’s permission, no one may copy or reproduce any part of a book, create new material based on or incorporating any part of a book, or sell or distribute copies of a book except in limited instances covered by the Fair Use Doctrine.
A copyright notice on the document is not required in order for something to be considered copyrighted. Be careful, many people are completely uninformed about copyright law and can easily be tripped up on questions in this area.
When you are working with copyrighted materials you should always be mindful of the following issues:
Is it appropriate to copy software?
If you’re a contractor asked to create a copyrightable work, who owns the copyright, you or the company that hired you to create it?
If you’re an employee and create a work, do you own the copyright or does your employer?
If someone asks you to copy and distribute a work created by someone else, should you do it?
These are some basic issues confronting project managers who deal with copyrighted works. A project manager should ask the questions before taking any action that could be perceived as copyright infringement.
Put the Project’s Needs Before Your Own
This one sounds simple doesn’t it? Watch out though. If the question was asked directly, everyone would get it right, but most questions are not asked directly. What about instances where the project is suffering and the project manager does not want to do anything about the real issue because it will make his manager angry?
The correct or professionally responsible thing to do would be to deal with the issue hurting the project, to put the needs of the project before your own. Questions on the exam may be hard if you do not follow this rule in the real world.
Do Not Give or Take Bribes or Inappropriate Gifts
Did you know that in many countries bribery is punishable as a crime and that can mean jail time? What is a bribe? Is it a bribe if someone asks you to pay a fee in order to bring machinery through a city? How about requesting a payment for police protection?
In many countries, fees for services such as protection and bringing machinery through a town, or fees for issuing permits and other official documents are allowable and are not considered bribes. Payments to convince a government official to select your company are bribes. Many companies have policies or codes of business conduct to help prevent bribes or other illegal activity.
What about other “payments”? Would it be appropriate to accept a free automobile or a free weekend holiday for you and your family? These are probably not allowable. Tom Donaldson, in The Ethics of International Business, suggests that a practice is permissible if you can answer “No” to both of the following questions:
1. Is it permissible to conduct business successfully in the host country without undertaking the practice?
2. Is the practice a clear violation of a fundamental international right?
Fundamental rights include such rights as the right to food, a fair trial, non-discriminating treatment, minimal education, physical safety and freedom of speech.
There will be few questions on this area on the exam.
Do the Right Thing
Many of these topics are interrelated. Do the right thing means being ethical, reporting violations, treating others with respect and following the right project management process. Notice this as you continue reading the rest of this lesson.
Follow the Right Process
This is one of the hardest topics in professional and social responsibility! Professional and social responsibility REQUIRES you to follow the project management process. It means that you MUST have a project charter, in fact it is unethical not to. It means that you MUST have a work breakdown structure, it is unethical not to. Why?
You should realize that not having a project charter hurts your project and at the least, causes increased costs and wasted time. Not having a WBS means that the project will have rework and that work will remain undefined until later in the project.
A project manager must understand the project management process in order to do the right thing!
Often the project manager is not given the authority required to get the project done. Imagine a situation where the project manager is given only the authority to write reports and transmit them to others.
With no one directing the integration of the work, the project will probably be late and individuals working on the project will waste valuable time in rework. Professional responsibility REQUIRES the project manager to obtain the authority necessary to manage the project.
Project managers are often given unrealistic project completion deadlines or milestones. Many project managers just make the project happen as best as they can and wait to see what happens. Professional and social responsibility REQUIRES the project manager to handle an unrealistic schedule problem upfront.
This may mean saying, “Assign the project to someone else!” or “You have requested that the project be completed within six months. Our analysis makes us very certain that we can meet that due date only if we adjust the scope, cost or quality on this project. If we cannot make any changes, the project will be completed in eight months.”
Professional and social responsibility in today’s project management world also means saying, “I am sorry that you do not want to support my efforts in planning the project and want me to get started producing work right away. As a certified PMP, I am ethically bound to do project management correctly for the best interests of the project and the company. This means that I must have a project charter and at least a high-level work breakdown structure.”
The project manager is REQUIRED to do the right thing and stand up for the right process! When you pass the exam, start showing this book to your management. They can blame me instead of you when you want to do the right thing.
David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of project-related downloadable video training products under the Primer and PM Mastery System brand names. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.