Russell D. Archibald
PMP, PMI Fellow

PMI-Texas Connection 2001
Sept. 14-15, 2001 Houston, Texas.
Published here March 2002.

Abstract | Challenges | Full Power | Business Strategies | Objectives
Portfolio Management | Process | Principles | Key Roles | Planning & Control
Team Working | Improvement | Integration | Internet | Conclusion

The Key Integrative Roles[8]

CEO Demands:
6. That all of these integrative roles are clearly defined, understood and assigned to qualified people.

The role of the project manager is obviously a central one, and in fact this role has received considerable attention in the project management literature over the past several decades. However, there are other important integrative roles in project management, and these frequently have been ignored. The key integrative roles are:

Executive Level

CEO Demands:
7. That the general manager (or COO) understands and fulfills these project management responsibilities.

General Manager: integrates all projects with the corporate strategic plans. This role in project management is focused on:

  • Determining how the organization's portfolio of projects supports the overall business strategies of the organization,
  • Overseeing the organization's overall project management process, and
  • Monitoring how this process is integrated with all other aspects of the organization, and ensuring that sufficient money, human, and other resources are available on a timely basis to support the on-schedule completion all of the approved projects; if sufficient resources are not available then the General Manager must delay, cancel, or change the scope of one or more projects.
CEO Demands:
8. That a project sponsor be appointed for every project and given appropriate indoctrination to carry out this role effectively.

Project Sponsor: integrates, on the assigned project(s), the ongoing strategic direction of the project with the ongoing operations of the organization. This strategic direction is given to the project manager and through him or her to the project team. The project sponsor role is usually held by a senior manager or a "plural executive" in the form of a steering group or committee, acting for the top management of the sponsoring or project executing organization. This role may be held by the general manager of the organization responsible for the project, by a high-level executive, or it may be delegated to someone who reports to the general manager. In some cases, the project sponsor role is held by a steering group comprised of key people from various parts of the organization. Only within the past decade or so has the importance of the project sponsor role been recognized, together with the importance of formally identifying whom is assigned to this role for a specific project.

Multi-Project/Portfolio Level

CEO Demands:
9. That an experienced manager of project management be appointed reporting to a senior executive of the organization.

Manager (or vice president, director, and so on) of project management: integrates the operational aspects of the work being done on all projects within the organization, and integrates the development and use of the organization's project management methods and tools on all projects. This role has emerged in many organizations as they mature in their project management capabilities, and it recognizes that the project management function as an important capability within the organization, along with the more traditional functions of marketing, engineering, procurement, manufacturing, construction/field operations, finance and accounting, legal, and so on. The manager of project management may also be the project sponsor for specific projects, in some situations.

CEO Demands:
10. That an appropriate home be established within the organization for the project management discipline.

Some practitioners and consultants[9] have predicted that there will soon be a chief projects officer in many organizations, on a par with the fairly recent position of chief information officer. This position might combine aspects of the project sponsor and manager of project management roles. It remains to be seen whether or not this becomes a reality

The project office is a term that is written about often in current project management literature. Dinsmore says "Any organization with a project backlog needs to support its projects from some coherent base. A project management home is just such a vantage point from which to support, influence, and direct project management endeavors."[10] He goes on the say "There are some classic ´homes' for project management; they are sometimes referred to by the catchall term ´project office', even though they vary considerably in concept." He then describes four possibilities:

  • The autonomous project team.
  • The project support office.
  • Project management center of excellence.
  • The program management office.[11]
CEO Project Manager Demands:
11. That all multi-project and program managers are given the training needed to ensure their effective performance.

Multi-project Manager or Program Manager: integrates the efforts of all project contributors on his or her assigned projects. The multi-project manager or program manager performs the duties of the project manager on several projects at the same time. These may be several small projects, or a project manager near the end of one project may also be assigned to another project that is in its initial conception phase, for example. Strategically this role differs somewhat from the project manager since this person must often resolve conflicts between the two or more projects that she or he is managing. Depending on the number, size and nature of the projects, this role may take on some of the responsibilities of the manager of project management or the general manager. On some large aerospace programs, for example, a subordinate project manager is usually assigned to each project within the overall program.

Project Level

CEO Project Manager Demands:
12. That each project manager respects the functional lines of authority when giving project direction to team members.

Project manager: The project manager integrates the efforts of all persons and organizations contributing to the project, primarily working through the various functional project leaders. This role is more operational in nature compared to the more strategic role of the project sponsor. The project manager plans and directs the execution of the project to meet the time, cost, and performance objectives as established by the project sponsor.

Functional Department and Project Contributor Level

CEO Demands:
13. That functional managers and project leaders respect the project lines of authority as exercised by the project managers.

Functional department managers: integrate the efforts of project contributors on all projects within their individual departments or disciplines, primarily through the allocation of resources available within the department to the approved, active portfolio of projects. When conflicts occur between projects (insufficient skilled resources, for example) the involved department and project managers will escalate the conflict to the appropriate level for resolution, in accordance with the escalation procedures given in the corporate project management process.

Functional Project Leaders: integrate the work of all contributors to their specific assigned projects within each of their respective functions.

Work Package Leaders: integrate the work of individual contributors to each of their assigned work control packages within each project.

Figure 4 illustrates the relationships between these integrative roles.

Figure 4. Relationships between the key integrative roles.
Figure 4. Relationships between the key integrative roles.[12]
The project specialist staff shown reporting to the project manager of project "A" may be directly assigned to the project office of project "A" (as shown) or may be located in a functional department responsible for all project planning and control support within the organization.

Other Important Roles

Other important roles relating to projects also exist, including:

Project customer: the person or organization that will receive the benefits from the results of the project. For projects under contract, the customer usually pays for and authorizes the project when the contract is signed. For in-house projects there may be several customers.

Project champion: the person who promotes and keeps the project alive, who may or may not be the general manager.

Owner of the results of the project: this person or organization may or may not be the project customer.

User or operator of the project results: this person or organization may or may not be the project owner.

While all of these additional roles are important, they do not carry the same level of integrative responsibility as the key roles listed above. However, if the project customer organization is a major contributor to the project, performing important tasks on which project completion is dependent, then there is a need to identify the integrative roles listed above within the customer's organization as well. The same can be said for all outside organizations that contribute significantly to the project in question.

Basic Project Management Principles  Project Management Principles

8. From Archibald, Russell D., Chapter 23, "Role Management: The Integrative Roles in Project Management", Project Management for the Business Professional: A Comprehensive Guide, Joan Knutson, Editor, Wiley, NY, 2001, 440-457.
9. See Dinsmore, Paul C., Winning in Business With Enterprise Project Management, AMACOM American Management Association, New York, 1999, 72-76.
10. Ibid, 64.
11. Ibid, 64-72.
12. Archibald, 1992, op cit, 79.
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