Getting Top Management on Side
live and breath project management because they are in that kind of business.
These include companies such as engineering design, engineer-procure-construct
(EPC), general contractors and so on. For them, organizing around projects is
a natural way of life as almost all senior staff have "come up through the
ranks", and top management understands what it takes to be successful in
project work. Just a quarter of a century ago these people, together with some
companies in the pharmaceutical industry, were virtually the only "fountain
of knowledge" on modern practical project management.
Around this time,
Russell D. Archibald, a giant of intellectual project management thinking, was
spending his airport travel time pulling together his ground-breaking book "Managing
High-technology Programs and Projects". At the same time (1976) this writer
was promoting the idea that the concepts of project management could be applied
much more broadly. Indeed, project management has now spread its wings and today
it is to be found in almost all industries where companies identify specific
objectives, whether major or minor, and manage their attainment as projects.
But this expansion has not come without its difficulties.
How often have
you heard the project manager's wail that "My boss does not understand what
I need to run my project!" And indeed in most public or private organizations
the two may well be worlds apart. Aside from the obvious differences between
enterprise management and project management such as relative team stability,
versus temporary team work and the issues of cross functional boundaries, there
is a much more compelling difference - that of management style.
According to Marie
Scotto (Project Resource Planning, Chapter 13, Project Management Handbook, Jossey-Bass,
1998): "The business community believes in understaffing which it can prove
is generally good business most of the time." In contrast, projects by their
nature are uncertain and hence contain risks for which margins or contingent
resources are required. For a project to be under-resourced is a recipe for failure.
Thus, the very mindset of the two managements are diametrically opposed.
So it is welcome
news that Russ Archibald has now presented a paper entitled "What CEOs Must
Demand to Achieve Effective Project Management" (First presented at the
First Ibero American Project Management Forum, Mexico City, June 2000.) In the
paper, Archibald proposes and explains no less than twenty-six "CEO
Demands." These range from the strategic: "That every authorized project
clearly supports an approved objective of the organization" to the detail:
"That the project management process of the organization be documented in
a coherent easily understood manner". From requiring "That functional
managers and project leaders respect the project lines of authority as exercised
by the project managers" to requiring "That a post-completion appraisal
be performed on every projects " for capturing lessons learned to the corporate
But of them all, our favorite is "That the corporate project management
process includes a detailed description of the corporate project management information
and control system." How many companies even have an information system
that serves the needs of its project managers? And we don't mean all that historical
stuff churned out by financial accounting departments - to the nearest penny
- assembled by tax class - weeks later! We mean a system that captures
progress records and tentative cost date along with estimates and forecast trends,
and has that information on line and in real time. You can read the latest version
of Russ's insightful article "What
CEOs Must Demand to Achieve Effective Project Management" in our Guest