Common misconceptions about Project Management
Here are some questions we hear frequently that demonstrate a misunderstanding of project management: What does the project manager do?
Why doesn't the project manager do some of the work?
Why don't we make our top specialist the project manager?
Why does the project manager need a support team?
Isn't this all an unnecessary overhead for the project?
Project management is a specialist discipline. In a well run project, there is a constant array of management issues to deal with, as well as a challenging routine of project management processes.
Responsibility of the Project Manager
The Project Manager is responsible for everything that is required to make the project a success - whether directly or indirectly. It is not like a typical hierarchical line management role. The Project Manager is at the centre of everything relating to the project. Controlling the contributions of seniors and peers is just as important as managing the work of the team. The Project Manager needs to manage upwards - ensuring that the inverted hierarchy comprising the organisation's leadership and the project sponsors are doing all that is required to guarantee the success of the project. The Project Manager is also the main focal point for liaison with other departments, projects and initiatives within the organisation, taking into account the needs and contributions of other internal groups. The Project Manager is equally the main point of contact for aspects requiring co-operation and co-ordination with external parties such as the project's suppliers and contractors, customers, suppliers, regulatory bodies, and other third parties - making sure everything is in place to guarantee success. The Project Manager has direct responsibility for the activities of all project participants, all project tasks and all deliverables.
Bear in mind that the Project Manager needs to achieve this without direct control over the participants. The Project Manager will not have power over the leadership, nor the internal and external contributors. Even in the project team there may be loaned staff, part-timers and sub-contractors who will have their prime loyalties elsewhere.
The Project Management process
Project management is a complex undertaking, with many stages and processes. It should follow the full business lifecycle, from definition and justification of the project, through to delivering demonstrable benefits for the business.
The project manager's skills are essential from the beginning. The defined approach and its business case will rely on a good understanding of the project process along with reliable estimating and carefully considered planning.
As well as the project manager's prime objective to deliver the results, there are many supporting disciplines and processes. These should ensure that the project will deliver a valuable result without surprises. The foremost need is to monitor the anticipated level of benefits and make adjustments to deliver optimum results. The leadership team should also actively identify and manage risks, issues, changed requirements, quality standards, plus a host of other side issues.
Not all these processes follow the traditional development lifecycle. In particular, it is wrong to consider the project has finished when the new system goes live. That way you will never know whether it delivered the planned benefits and you will probably not achieve them! Management attention must be retained to deliver the benefits - through to the Post-Implementation Review (PIR) and beyond. Some of the project management processes will migrate into continuing line management processes to be used throughout the life of the solution. Here is a summary of the processes:
The concept, objectives, approach and justification of the project are properly defined, agreed and communicated. Management-level planning maps out...