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Project Management Blog

Bas de Baar, ProjectSociology.org

Whatever your take is on projects, at the end of the day it is just a bunch of people working together to achieve a certain goal. To laugh, cry, pull pranks, play dirty tricks and show all other kinds of behavior towards each other. If you are lucky they even work to reach the final goal. If you take everything away, and put people in the center of what a “project” is, you will see a group of stakeholders interacting with each other, just like any other group of people would do. As a Project Manager it is your goal to herd the project crowd toward the required end result.

 

Published in Blogs
Monday, 16 April 2007 08:36

It’s Not My Meeting and Other Myths

Oh, the stories we tell and the stories we hear. Have you ever heard anyone use one of the excuses below to distance themselves from their responsibility as a team member? Shame on those of us who use these excuses and on those of us who let others use them.

It is not my meeting – Guess what? If you have a business reason to be in the meeting, then it is your meeting too. Not only do you have the right to contribute, you have a responsibility to contribute, so speak up and share your expertise and opinions.

I did not set the agenda – Just a step or two away from “it is not my meeting” is the infamous “well, I did not set the agenda”. The implication is that only the person who defines the agenda can decide what is discussed. So if critical information is not brought to the table, well, that is just too bad, because “Hey, I did not set the agenda.”

Well, nobody asked me – This one is usually accompanied by a pouting face or a petulant tone of voice. None of us should be expected to have access to psychic powers, but if you know a problem exists and you know the solution – it does not matter that nobody asked you directly. Step up and step in to help.

It is not my job – So you knew from reports you receive that the database was about to run out of space. Guess what? Last night the database ran out of space and this morning the application was unavailable for two hours. But it is not your problem; after all, you manage the hardware not the database. It is not your job.

Now do any of these excuses really make sense? Of course not. Remember when one team member decides to disengage, we all suffer the consequences.

Published in Blogs
Thursday, 25 January 2007 15:18

Organizational Structure

Projects, of course, are not operated in a vacuum. They are parts, or subsystems, of much bigger organizations with much larger goals. Each project has or uses elements such as processes, participants, policies, procedures, and requirements, some of which are dependent upon and interact with related elements in the larger business system. By taking a systematic approach, the project manager can see how all the elements interact, and assess the impact on the individual project. Project managers must recognize the role of the project as a component within an organization. The role of the project, as a component, is to support the business model of the organization as a whole-not to necessarily replace it. Organizations are categorized into one of five models:


Functional
This traditional structure groups people by specialization (for example, marketing, contracting, accounting, and so on). The project manager has no formal authority over project resources and must rely on the informal power structure and his or her own interpersonal skills to obtain resource commitments from functional managers. Conflicts tend to develop over the relative priorities of various projects competing for limited resources.

Weak Matrix
The matrix organization maintains vertical functional lines of authority while establishing a relatively permanent horizontal structure containing the managers for various projects. The project managers interact with all functional units supporting their projects. In a weak matrix, the balance of power leans toward the functional manager rather than the project manager. That is, workers’ administrative relationships, physical proximity, and relative time expenditures favor the functional manager.

Balanced Matrix
A balanced matrix structure has many of the same attributes as a weak matrix, but the project manager has more time and power regarding the project. A balanced matrix still has time accountability issues for all the project team members since their functional managers will want reports on their time within the project. In a balanced matrix the project manager has a full-time role as a project manager with a reasonable level of authority and has a primarily part-time project team

Strong Matrix
The strong matrix is the same as the weak matrix except that the balance of power favors the project manager rather than the functional manager. The project manager has medium to high formal authority.

Projectized
In a projectized organization, a separate, vertical structure is established for each project.  Personnel are assigned to particular projects on a full-time basis. The project manager has total authority over the project, subject only to the time, cost, and performance constraints specified in the project targets.

These are the functional organizations; project expeditor, which is little more than a functionary who helps support the concept of project management but not really the practice; the project coordinator is a step up from that. Then a weak matrix is where you actually have the project manager getting resources from the functional organizations; a strong matrix is where the balance of power is shifted to the project manager. The way you tell whether or not that balance of power has shifted is where the money and the reporting come from. If all money and reports are generated by the project and are respected as being from the project, then it is a strong matrix. If the functional organizations are seen as generating revenue for the organization rather than the project organizations, then it is a weak matrix. And finally, PMI’s ideal structure: the projectized organization, a place where the project has its own reporting structure within the organization.


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