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The Principles of Project Management, Part 4

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The Characteristics of a Project

Editor's Note: This article is excerpted from Chapter 1 of Fundamentals of Technology Project Management

A project is an undertaking of any size, budget, or timeline that has a clearly defined start and finish and a specific desired outcome. The most important characteristic of a project is its purpose. Unless a project team knows what the specific purpose of the project is, they will be unable to undertake it.

If the project must have a purpose, then it must also have a means of measuring how well it accomplishes the purpose. A project is designing, creating, building, developing, or constructing a building, product, or service. In this book, the focus will be on managing projects for products and services in the technology and IT industries.

A project must have an owner, the person who has requested that the project is implemented. It must also have a project team, the people who will implement the project. It is possible to have a project without a project manager, but it is very difficult to have a successful project without a project manager. Uncontrolled, chaotic, unscheduled, and uncertain are words that can be used to describe unmanaged projects!

How to Measure Project Success

To measure project success, you need to determine early in the process the desired outcome of your project and how the results will be measured. If your stated outcome is not measurable, then it should be revised so that it clearly states a measurable outcome.

Unless you know how you will measure your success at the start of your project, how will you be able to document the “before” data to compare with your “after” data? It is vitally important that you have clear and accurate “before” data documented and signed off on by your client before you start. You also need to agree on when and how you will measure the results after the project has been implemented. There should be no room for differing interpretations of the results. If your measurement criteria are clear and precise, you can avoid a lot of problems later on.

Different Types of Organizational Structure

The management structure in place in an organization can take different forms. The majority of technology companies favor projectized and matrix organizational structures. However, project managers working in IT in financial services, banking, or retail, for example, may find themselves working in a traditional/functional management structure.

Traditional (Functional) Management

The traditional, or functional, organizational structure is a vertical management hierarchy. It starts with the CEO and the president and branches downwards and outwards with every employee reporting to their (vertical) line manager.

The organizational chart for a traditional management structure will look similar to the one in Figure 1.2. This system of management has worked well for many years and is still widely used in many industries.

The Principles of Project Management, Part 4 - Figure 1

Figure 1.2: Traditional (Functional) Organizational Chart

An advantage of the traditional management structure is that employees clearly understand to whom they report. They report to one manager, and that manager is responsible for their career management, team management, and project management. This includes setting goals and objectives, managing performance, assigning tasks, and project scheduling and prioritization.

A disadvantage of the traditional method is that the functional manager is likely managing both project and non-project staff members. This means that projects may be competing with non-project work for resources, funding, and scheduling. The project manager often has little power or influence and may function as more of a coordinator or project scheduler than as a true project manager.

Projectized Management

A projectized organizational structure is similar to the traditional/functional structure in that it is a hierarchal organization. Employees report to one manager, and that manager is responsible for their career management, team management, and project management. This includes setting goals and objectives, managing performance, assigning tasks, project scheduling, and prioritization.

The big difference between traditional and projectized management is that the project manager has a lot more influence and independence. The project manager typically manages the team members directly. The team is composed solely of project team members, so project work is not competing with non-project work for resources and funding. A project team managed by a project manager will be more effective than one led by a functional manager with little, or no, understanding of project management standards and methodologies. The organizational chart for a projectized management structure will look similar to the one in Figure 1.3.

The Principles of Project Management, Part 4 - Figure 2

Figure 1.3: Projectized Organizational Chart

A projectized management structure does not, unfortunately, create a project management utopia where everything is perfect! There are some disadvantages. For example, the projects may be developed too independently of each other, making it difficult to leverage the work of one project team within another. This can sometimes lead to duplication of effort or one team being underutilized while another is overburdened.

A strong program manager working with multiple project managers in a projectized organizational structure can help minimize the disadvantages and maximize the strengths of a projectized approach to project management.

Matrix Management

There are two schools of thought on the matrix management system, and they are directly opposed to one another. One believes that this method increases efficiency by decreasing development downtime. The other believes that it decreases efficiency by adding unnecessary management overhead.

This system appears to work more effectively in larger organizations where teams are working concurrently on large, complex projects.

The concept behind matrix management is that the functional manager acts as the hierarchal line manager for team members. That manager is responsible for day- to-day management of the team, which includes defining processes, procedures, and best practices for the group. The functional manager is responsible for growth and development, coaching, and setting goals and objectives for individuals. Team members have a dotted-line relationship to the project manager for each of their assigned projects. The project manager is responsible for managing the project, not the project team members. A team member may be assigned to one project or multiple projects at the same time. The project manager schedules the team member’s time for the allocated amount of hours per week, and the team member reports progress/status for assigned tasks to the project manager. In effect, this means that each team member has two (or more) managers and is a member of two (or more) teams. The team member has a specific role on each team and a specific responsibility to each manager.

The reporting relationships can be rather confusing, as shown in the example matrix management organizational chart in Figure 1.4.

The Principles of Project Management, Part 4 - Figure 3

Figure 1.4: Matrix Management Organizational Chart

As you can see, the dotted-line relationships are hard to distinguish after a few have been added to the chart.

One of the major disadvantages to this type of management structure is that the employee can easily find himself being pulled in too many directions. Multiple project managers may demand more of his time than he has available. This can create tension between the team member and each project manager, as well as between the project managers. The functional manager often finds herself in the position

of arbitrating between opposing project managers. If the functional manager is ineffective at setting priorities, the employee will be left to decide for himself which project takes priority, not an enviable situation for the employee or the managers involved. In a matrix organization, multiple managers are responsible for evaluating performance for each employee. This can lead to inconsistent feedback and lack of clear direction for the employee.

Under the matrix system of management, some departments are often still organized in the traditional way. HR and Finance are good examples of departments where the matrix management system does not work well. IT departments often struggle with this type of organization because they are usually responsible for existing applications (operational support) as well as for new projects (development and implementation support). The matrix system is difficult to maintain in environments where multiple functions need to co-exist within one department.

There are also mixed organization structures that combine elements of the traditional, projectized, and matrix organizational structures. Different project structures co-exist simultaneously in the same project. With the mixed organizational structure, flexibility is an advantage; however, unclear lines of responsibility and increased communication complexity are major disadvantages.

The Project Management Office

A project management office (PMO) is a centralized body assigned various responsibilities for coordinating management of projects and programs. The PMO responsibilities differ between organizations. The responsibilities may include:

  • Providing project management support
  • Providing project management training
  • Defining and developing project management methodology and standards
  • Monitoring compliance/governance of PMO standards
  • Developing policies, procedures, templates, and other project artifacts
  • Developing and implementing common project management terminology
  • Managing shared resources
  • Coaching, mentoring, and training
  • Managing scope for key programs
  • Enterprise-wide risk management
  • Managing overall project database
  • Managing communication
  • Setting priorities

This is not an all-inclusive list of responsibilities. Some PMOs will have a broader set of responsibilities, and others will manage a subset of these tasks.

Some PMOs have additional responsibilities in the business decision-making process. This extends the reach of the PMO into areas such as project approval, project funding, and human resources. This crossover into business management is more common when the PMO is managed by a business leader rather than a technical or project management leader.

The PMO may be composed of one or two people or may be a substantial team. Large organizations often have an entire PMO department with several full-time employees responsible solely for running the PMO. Program managers generally report into the PMO either directly or through a dotted-line relationship to the PMO leader. Project managers may report directly into the PMO or may report to a program manager who manages communication and coordination with the PMO.

The PMO ideally will have a senior management “champion” to ensure that PMO standards are implemented across the enterprise. If the standards are considered optional rather than required, the potential benefits of the PMO will not be realized.

 

Colleen Garton

Colleen Garton is a highly respected and experienced writer, consultant, and speaker. She is the author of two management books: Fundamentals of Technology Project Management and Managing Without Walls. Recognized internationally as an expert on virtual and global management, Colleen is an experienced and in-demand public speaker for numerous events and conferences around the world. She is also author of the blog Working With or Without Walls.

 Colleen has extensive management and training experience in the United States and internationally, with more than two decades of practical experience in traditional and virtual management spanning multiple industries. She is the owner of the Garton Consulting Group. Before founding the Garton Consulting Group, Ms. Garton held senior management positions at some major U.S. corporations.

You can follow Colleen on Twitter at @ColleenGarton and on Facebook.


MC Press books written by Colleen Garton available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Fundamentals of Technology Project Management Fundamentals of Technology Project Management
Master the specific project management issues that technology professionals must face.
List Price $69.95

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Managing Without Walls Managing Without Walls
Optimize the effectiveness of your teams...no matter where they are.
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    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.