By Frank Greenwood, PMP
[copyright by Frank Greenwood, 2001]
Converting a punched card information system into a computerized system on NCR's
first computer, the Century 100, was the author's earliest project. Lacking project
management training, mistakes were made and scar tissue was created. The lesson:
Project management training can improve your productivity quickly and permanently.
Also, mid-level management positions are being cut. Project managers are a new
class of managers filling the vacancies. Expertise in project management is a source
of power for these survivors. Projects are the building blocks for realizing
organizational strategies.
Project management goes back before the pyramids in the construction industry.
Recently, weapons development and the Channel Tunnel [England/France] relied on
it, as have space exploration projects. A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken
to create a unique product or service. Project management is the application of
knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities in order to meet or
exceed stakeholder needs and expectations. [Stakeholders are individuals and
organizations involved in, or affected by, project activities.] Defining characteristics
include 1:
Projects are organized by tasks requiring an integration across the traditional functional structure
of the enterprise.
Unique authority-responsibility-accountability relationships arise when a project is managed
across the traditional elements of the organization.
A project team is a unique organizational unit dedicated to delivery of project results on time,
within budget and within predetermined technical specifications.
While “one size fits all” does not apply, since there is no “one way”, a definition of
the discipline has emerged, as follows:
First, project management is how you achieve/manage change. Second, this change
is achieved via six processes: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, Closing and
Professional Responsibility. Third, during these processes, a changing mix of nine
knowledge areas is employed: Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human
resources, Communications, Risk and Procurement. This definition [which is
embraced by the Project Management Institute, PMI], is the subject of the rest of this
publication. PMI's Certification Program Department became the first such
Department worldwide to attain ISO 9001 recognition in 1999, which supports the
view that this approach is accepted and legitimate.
Project management can be used for personal goals, such as building a house, getting
married, and moving to a new location. In the working world, it is used for changes
such as reengineering, benchmarking and improving processes and products. Most
organizations realize shorter development times, lower costs, higher
quality/reliability and improved return on investments from its use.
Projects have definite beginnings and endings, a life cycle. The project life cycle is
broken into the above six broad processes: Initiating, Planning, Executing,
Controlling, Closing and Professional Responsibility. Where you are in this life cycle
determines what you should be doing and what options are open to you.
It is seldom easy to know when the old way of doing things is no longer effective.
That is, new needs are not easy to define. But, when they emerge, a feasibility study
is typically undertaken to determine if the needs are legitimate and if they should be
realized---before significant resources are committed. This requires, among other
things, that the needs, the product/service description, have to be specified. If the
decision is then to proceed with an in-house project, a charter is issued by senior
management providing the project manager with authority to apply organizational
resources to project activities 2. [If the work is to be hired out, then a letter of
engagement would be prepared.] A project manager is appointed and management
responsibilities are sorted out.
Diving right in, making assignments and solving problems is a natural tendency. But,
taking time at the outset carefully to think about what you are trying to do, how,
when, and by whom, characterizes successful projects. One of these early tasks is
defining the customer's needs. It is normal that the customer does not recognize his
needs and cannot articulate them. Moreover, needs will almost certainly change as
the project moves forward. Yet, needs are the driving force of the project.
Guidelines for specifying needs include 3
Rule 1: State the requirements explicitly and have project staff and customers sign off on it.
Rule 2: Be realistic; assume that, if the requirement can be misinterpreted, it will be.
Rule 3: Be realistic; recognize that there will be changes to your project and things will not
go on precisely as anticipated.
Rule 4: To as great an extent as possible, include pictures, graphs, physical models and other
nonverbal exhibits in the formulation of requirements.
Rule 5: Establish a system carefully to monitor any changes made to requirements.
Rule 6: Educate project staff and customers to the problems of specifying requirements.
Scope, the sum of products and services to be provided by the project, also needs
careful attention. For example, a written scope statement has to be developed that
includes the project justification, the major deliverables and the project objectives.
These major deliverables need to be decomposed into smaller, more manageable
components to provide better control. Scope change control also has to be put in
place early, covering: submission of change requests, their evaluation, incorporating
the approved changes in the plan and monitoring progress.
Activity definition is next, whereby the specific activities that must be performed in
order to produce the project deliverables are specified. Their sequencing and
duration are determined, producing a schedule. Resources required are now
estimated and costs can be assessed.
Planning is also needed for:
· Project communications, who should get what data, when.
· Quality, identifying quality standards relevant to the project and determining
how to satisfy them.
· Risk, determining which risks are likely to affect the project and deciding how
to handle them.
· Procurement, deciding what to procure, when.
· Organization, identifying, documenting and assigning project roles,
responsibilities and reporting relationships.
All these planning pieces are now put into one consistent, coherent project plan
which will guide the execution and control of the project. It documents the
assumptions and constraints, as well as the scope, cost and schedule baselines.
[Baselines are the original plans, plus or minus approved changes; e.g., cost-baseline,
schedule baseline.]
Project managers have considerable responsibility accompanied by very limited
authority; but, their job is, nevertheless, to get the project done on time, within
budget and according to specifications. Being so scarce, authority merits careful
consideration. Sources include the following, which, at various times under certain
circumstances, can be called into play:
· Bureaucratic, based on knowledge of how the organization works. [Learn how
it works and then work the organization.]
· Charismatic, the natural born leader. We do not here mean the self-appointed
“natural born leader”, but the individual so regarded by associates.
· Purse string, the “golden rule”, as in: “He who controls the gold makes the
· Competence, built up over time, based on managing successful projects.
· Formal, that which is specifically delegated to the project manager.
· Expert, based on technical knowledge.
Also part of project management is the project team. Normally on loan from one of
the functional departments, and probably working on several jobs at once, these
individuals have multiple bosses. The project manager depends directly on them to
do the project work, while these people may not see themselves as his/her “team”.
Accordingly, how to build a team merits careful thought, too. Techniques include:
working in the same physical area, participation in decisions, well-run meetings,
naming the team and structuring rewards. Rewards might involve 4:
· Job assignments
· Letters of commendation
· Public recognition for good work
· Flexible work time
· Job-related perquisites
· New equipment
· Commendation for cash awards and bonuses
The project manager leads the project, executing the project plan. In doing so, he
draws on his knowledge of:
· The application area, such as information systems,
· General management [i.e., it is getting things done through others via
planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling], and
· The practice of project management, which is covered herein. Please note
that many project-related decisions contain considerable uncertainty, which
has to be tolerated.
Some ninety percent of his time is devoted to communication. This goes smoother if
there is willingness to listen. People will talk more freely when the other will listen.
But, listening only for the “facts” and ignoring hidden meanings can be self-defeating.
Also, information acquisition and distribution, the who-gets-what-when [as in status
reports and forecasts], require attention.
As the project moves along, work products have to be reviewed to make sure they
were completed satisfactorily. This involves both acceptance and correctness of the
A large number of projects are carried out under contractual arrangements. This
requires soliciting bidders interested in the project and picking the winner. The
winner will favor the decision, but the losers may express their displeasure high up
the hierarchy, so evaluation of bids will be reviewed. Someone, perhaps the project
manager, then has to administer the contract. This involves a whole list of matters,
such as: changes, specifications, and quality, payments and project closeout. In
some cases, the primary contractor may work with sub-contractors. Hence, the
ultimate customer could be outside of the performing organization, complicating the
already complex situation.
Planning and control are opposite sides of the same coin. We are not here interested
in power, command and domination. It is the feedback idea that applies: compare
where you are supposed to be with where you actually find yourself and take
whatever action is indicated. You are, therefore, monitoring variances. The
applicable question is: “Can we live with this variance?” The “exception principle”,
that the project manager gives his attention only to those variances, which are
unacceptable, those that cannot be tolerated, has been helpful to many.
It is easy to write about a change control system. It is a set of procedures explaining
how official project documents can be changed. It includes the paperwork, tracking
systems and approval levels necessary for authorizing changes. A Change Control
Board is often created to approve or reject change requests. Certain types of changes
often are defined as getting automatic approval.
The difficulty is that the customer seldom knows what he needs. After much research
and negotiation, his needs are documented and approved. Very soon, he “requests”
changes. The necessity to pay for them is less clear as is his understanding of how
they would impact other parts of the project. This “scope creep” continues for the
length of the project. Apart from early retirement, a good solution is to document
the change control system and have it approved as soon as possible. Then, stick to it
[which is the part that is much easier said than done].
There is a general rule that holds some 80 percent of certain things are caused by
about 20 percent of those things. For example: 80 percent of your sales are made by
20 percent of your sales people; 80 percent of the value of your inventory is made up
by 20 percent of the items; 80 percent of your personnel problems come from 20
percent of the employees; or 80 percent of your project problems come from 20
percent of your stakeholders. This suggests that you want to define what are the
factors making up that 20 percent and then keeping a close eye on them.
There comes a time in every project when you shoot the engineers and release the
product. The main questions at closeout are: “Was all the work completed
properly?”, and “Have we updated our records, documenting results and lessons
learned for future use?” [Premature cancellation is a special case.] Related concerns
usually include 5:
· Turnover to the client always requires formal acceptance, probably including training and a
post-project review.
· Clearing all bills and final charges, closing the project books.
· Confirming that all tasks have been done, probably holding back 5 or 10 percent of the
contracted amount until satisfied.
· Finding homes for team members temporarily assigned to the project.
· Conducting a post project review with your team to document lessons learned.
· Giving credit to your team via formal recognition and celebrating the project conclusion.
What we are talking about here is knowing what has to be done, how and when to do
it, and, most critical, how to deal with those who will get it done. Often, also
involved is adherence to legal and ethical standards. Such concepts as the following
can matter: “breach” [the failure to perform a contractual obligation], or “implied
warranty” [the deliverable will have a level of quality so it is fit for its intended use],
or “waiver” [one party's relinquishment of his rights under the contract can occur
from lack of enforcement of those rights]. Conflict resolution techniques come under
this heading, too. “Confrontation” is favored, meaning that you confront the problem
[not the individual], gathering facts and discussing alternatives before agreeing on a
solution. Sources of conflict might be: priorities, methods, schedules or resources.
Conflict is to be expected in project work, so learn how to define it, collect facts,
analyze what is happening and agree on what to do. This may require balancing
stakeholders' interests; that is, exercising judgment to determine a fair resolution.
Embracing diversity of the cultural and ethnic norms of the stakeholders requires
effective communication, tolerance and compromise. For example, during the early
1900s in the US, the WASPs tended to control much. White/Anglo Saxon/Protestant
males frequented management positions. In the 21st century, Women, Blacks,
Hispanics and Asians are emerging into senior positions. Accordingly, one must
embrace diversity to achieve a collaborative project management environment.
Project management is composed of three basic ideas:
1. Project management is how you achieve/manage change.
2. This is accomplished via a framework of six processes, as discussed above:
Initiation, Planning, Execution, Control, Closing and Professional Responsibility.
3. As you work through these six processes, you employ a changing mix of nine
knowledge areas, discussed below: Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality,
Human Resources, Communications, Risk and Procurement.
Here, we are concerned that the project elements will be coordinated 6. Plan
Development, Plan Execution and Overall Change Control are the main project tools:
· Planning, integrating and coordinating project plans to create a consistent
· Executing, carrying out the plan; and,
· Controlling change, coordinating changes across the whole project.
The main management tool is understanding that management is the art of getting
things done through people, whose efforts are coordinated by: planning, organizing,
staffing, directing and controlling their activities.
Overall change control is often defined very early, in the project charter. How
changes will be submitted, how accepted/rejected, methods of documentation and of
monitoring are some of the factors that need written approval. Changes can be
expensive, can impact on unexpected parts of the project and can derail it
completely, if not handled professionally.
Your integration efforts are measured by these four:
· Cost, within budget?
· Time, on schedule?
· Quality, conforms to specifications?
· Scope, every expected function/feature completed?
“Scope” is the sum of products and services to be provided by the project. You are
probably facing this: Fuzzy in customers' minds at the start, a moving target as work
progresses and difficult to confirm at the end. This suggests the importance of
carefully defining and agreeing on customers' needs at the start, producing written
concurrence. As noted above, to protect against “scope creep”, you need a written,
approved change management procedure very early, perhaps in the charter. [Then,
sticking to this procedure is much easier said than done.] Verification at the end is
simplified if there are metrics defined early, in the plan, by which later to measure
the acceptance of deliverables.
Scope defines who and what are include [or excluded]. Which groups/locations/jobs
will have workloads impacted by your project? Does it affect other projects? These
become clear as the Work Breakdown Structure [WBS] is developed. It is a
deliverable-oriented grouping of project components that organizes and defines the
total scope. Work not in the WBS is beyond the project scope. One approach is to
decompose the work into tasks [work packages] that can be done in 80 man-hours,
assigning each to a specific individual, with an estimated cost and schedule. Every
item on the WBS has a unique identifier, allowing for a summation of costs and
resources. That is, the WBS is a top-down formulation of how project tasks fit into
the project structure. The WBS is the basis of the project schedule, which shows the
work sequence and when tasks start/finish.
Project time management is concerned with timely completion of the project, for
which the major processes are:
· Activity definition, identifying the specific activities that must be performed;
· Sequencing, defining interactivity dependencies;
· Duration, estimating the number of work periods needed for individual
· Schedule, creating the schedule; and,
· Control, controlling changes to the schedule.
Starting with your WBS, make separate sticky notes for each work task [or individual
magnetized labels, if using a magnetic board]. Move them about until in the proper
order, in terms of the immediate predecessor for each activity. There can be just
one label for “start” and one for “finish”. All your tasks must fit between these two.
Every task must be connected to other tasks or to the “start” or “finish” labels. Tasks
with several predecessors require that much be finished before they begin. Once your
labels are arranged, draw arrows to show the flow [often some work can be done
concurrently with another task; i.e., parallel arrows]. For now, you are just
illustrating the relationships among the tasks, without worrying about time estimates
or whether your network is to scale.
Once your network is acceptable, forecast the person-hours and time elapsed to
complete each task. Sickness, vacations, downtime, and shipping problems are some
delays you want to allow for. This will produce beginning and ending times for each
task. Adjust start dates for tasks that can begin before their predecessors are
finished. Once you get your network approved, you can plot actual progress to
monitor your project. Software use is popular, as noted elsewhere.
The cost estimate, usually coordinated with the work breakdown structure, normally
includes the following:
· Direct costs: personnel, materials, contracts [i.e., hiring it done] and support
[travel, training, etc.]; and,
· Indirect costs: fringe benefits [holiday pay, medical benefits, etc.], overhead
[heat, light, etc.] and administration [e.g., cost of administering the human
resources function, such as payroll].
· The budget is the aggregate of all these costs and probably includes a profit for
the project. Time-phased to show the expenditure rates by categories, it is
both a planning and control tool. As work is done and expenses are incurred,
the budget is reduced by these costs. Variances between actual and planned
expenses are analyzed. Large government and private projects are beginning
to use the earned value approach to costs, which is summarized elsewhere.
First, we will deal with the quality of project management.
W. Edwards Deming devoted his career to quality improvement in processes, much of
it in Japan after WW II. He showed that some 85 percent of quality problems require
management to change the process. Only about 15 percent can be controlled by the
people actually working in the process. His 14 rules for improving the quality of
processes are widely available. They apply to processes such as: creating invoices to
bill customers and manufacturing parts for an assembly. That is, the processes that
produce project deliverables are subject to these concepts. Mostly, workers cannot
do their best unless management does its part, which is making improvements
Most of us do the best we can most of the time. It is management's job to create an
environment where that happens. Teams, flattened organizations, and empowered
employees are all facets of management's function of supporting employees. This
function is driven by the need to satisfy customers and by the complexity of the work.
Individuals on the firing line need to be responsive to customers [there is little
tolerance of their going up and then back down the hierarchy to provide answers].
That manager's should support, rather than direct, the project team is driven by the
complexity of projects, where no one person has the sagacity to know all the answers
in dynamic environments. Those closest to the work are best placed for making many
We are here dealing with the quality of project management.
Insofar as project management is a process, that process is subject to the methods of
improving process quality that Deming encouraged.
Now, for the quality of the deliverables.
As noted, planning and control are opposite sides of the same coin. When the
planning is done, it should be agreed how the quality of the deliverables is to be
determined. These metrics have to be defined and tested to make sure they do
indeed measure what is intended. [This presumes that the tough matter of defining
customer needs and, hence, the deliverables has already been done]. Monitoring the
creation of the deliverables with respect to their quality also needs definition during
the planning.
Projects are complex, temporary endeavors having beginnings and endings. They
coordinate interrelated activities. Their goal is to achieve the job on time and within
cost, while meeting the requirements.
They tend to be unique. These characteristics mean that there is a temporary project
manager and that his staff is loaned by the other functions.
The main ways of organizing projects are:
· Functional, a structure wherein staff is grouped hierarchically by function, such
as marketing, engineering and accounting. Functional managers assign
priorities and direct the work of their subordinates. Traditional organizations
are typically so organized.
· Projectized, the project manager has full authority to assign priorities and to
direct the work of individuals assigned to the project. Aerospace/defense
firms, working mostly for the government, tend to manage their larger
contracts this way.
· Matrix, the project manager and functional managers share responsibility for
assigning priorities and for directing the work of individuals assigned to the
project. Matrices are used by companies with considerable project
management experience.
· Staff acquisition begins with knowing what skills are needed, when.
Experience, interests and availability all come into play. Staff may be assigned
full-time, part-time or variably, depending on needs. If there are no in-house
people available, procurement may be necessary.
Individuals assigned to a project may rotate in and out as needed, often having
multiple other obligations. Loyalties probably are strongest with regard to their home
bases. How, then, can the project manager build a team spirit? Techniques include:
· Kickoff meeting,
· Collocation,
· Name the team,
· Training,
· Rewards and
· Being supportive and accessible, taking an interest in the individuals.
Most project managers spend about ninety percent of their time communicating in
some fashion: selling, explaining to outsiders, solving problems, resolving conflicts
and negotiating with contractors, for instance.
Barriers to communication are legion: cultural and language differences, distance,
and technical terms, for example. Attitudes can be deadly, too, as in: “We tried
that; it won't work”; “You'll never get it approved” and “That's not how we do things
Barriers may lead to conflicts, and so deserve attention. Listening for facts and
attitudes is critical, as the reader knows. Learning how things look to the other
fellow provides insight and understanding. Another wise approach is never to allow
your senior management to be surprised.
The Project Management Institute says that communication has four major
processes 7:
· Planning, who needs what information, when and how provided;
· Distribution, making the needed information available in a timely manner to
· Performance reporting, e.g., status reports, progress measurements and
forecasting; and,
· Administrative closure, generating, gathering and disseminating information to
formalize phase or project completion.
A risk is the probability that some event will negatively impact the project's goals.
Asking: “What could go wrong?” is a good start. Risks are usually against costs,
schedules or technical goals. Technical risks are normally addressed first [since they
usually impact on costs and schedules].
Risk management identifies, analyzes and responds to project risks, involving these
processes 8:
· Planning the risk management activities;
· Identifying possible risks and defining their characteristics;
· Analyzing them to prioritize their impacts and to estimate their probabilities
and consequences;
· Planning responses to reduce the threats; and,
· Monitoring and controlling risk factors throughout the project.
Often, goods and services have to be acquired from outside organizations. This means
the project manager must understand the basics of negotiating and administering
contracts, which include:
· Planning, what will be needed, when;
· Solicitation planning, the requirements and their possible sources;
· Solicitation, obtaining quotations, bids, offers or proposals;
· Source selection, picking from the potential sellers;
· Contract administration, managing the relationship with the seller; and
· Contract closeout, completion and settlement of the contract, including any
open items.
This is a technical, legal topic which is large and complex. There may be practices in
your industry [e.g., construction, government contracting] that do not apply to all
categories of projects. We urge getting appropriate expertise where indicated. To
illustrate: Do you and your team know about warranties, indemnities and liabilities
for negligent behavior that apply in your contract(s)?
JOB DESCRIPTION: A very important position, with many hidden facets, largely
unrecognized by your management. Heavy responsibilities, small authority. Crucial
dependence on borrowed, temporary [disinterested?] staff. Frequent conflicts.
Fuzzy, changing goals. Messy reporting relationships. Unremitting challenge, so very
frequently you begin again on a new project.
Why take such a very tough, extremely demanding job? Because, although project
management is all of the above and more, it is the best way to achieve/manage
change. It offers you the opportunity to get general management experience quickly,
to make important contributions and to show what you can do.
Please do not back into project management without training, as many of us have.
This publication lays out the basics, so readers will understand what they are dealing
with and how to go about it.
This knowledge separates the successes from the failures.
1 “The Project Manager”, Harvard Business Review, May-June, 1959.
2 Many definitions herein, such as “charter”, are from the Project Management Institute's, “A Guide to
the Project Management Body of Knowledge,” 1996.
3 J. Davidson Frame, “Managing Project in Organizations,” Jossey-Bass, 1995, revised edition, p. 150.
4 J. Davidson Frame, “Managing Projects in Organizations,” Jossey-Bass, 1995, revised edition, p. 103.
5 Frank Greenwood, “Meeting the Challenge's of Project Management, A Primer,” ESI International,
1998, p. 36.
6 Throughout, we rely heavily on ideas from: “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge
[PMBOK Guide],” Project Management Institute, 2000 Edition. In the case of the integration material,
we use material from p. 41.
7 PMBOK, p. 117.
8 PMBOK, p. 127.

1 yorum:

John dedi ki...

How can a post on "The One-Minute Project Manager" be so lengthy and wordy? Lost my interest completely, but the outline was good. Trying to cover too much...
John Reiling, PMP
Project Management Training Online
Lean Six Sigma Training Online


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