<Previous Lesson

Project Management

Next Lesson>





Total Project Planning

Project Charter

Management Control

Project Manager–Line Manager Interface

Project Fast Tracking

Configuration Management

25.1 Total Project Planning:

Planning is one of the most significant functions of management. The difference between good

project manager and poor project manager is often described in one word: planning.

Unfortunately, people have a poor definition of what project planning actually involves. Project

planning involves planning for:

  • Schedule development
  • Budget development
  • Project administration
  • Leadership styles (interpersonal influences)
  • Conflict management

With reference to this, the first two items involve the quantitative aspects of planning. Planning for

project administration includes the development of the Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC).

We know that although each project manager has the authority and responsibility to establish

project policies and procedures, they must fall within the general guidelines established by top

management. Guidelines can also be established for planning, scheduling, controlling, and


Note that the Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC) can result from customer-imposed requirements

above and beyond normal operations. For example, the customer may require as part of his quality

control requirements that a specific engineer supervise and approve all testing of a certain item, or

that another individual approve all data released to the customer over and above program office

approval. Customer requirements similar to those identified above require Linear Responsibility

Charts (LRCs) and can cause disruptions and conflicts within an organization.

There are several key factors that affect the delegation of authority and responsibility both from

upper-level management to project management, and from project management to functional

management. These key factors include:

  • Maturity of the project management function
  • Size, nature, and business base of the company
  • Size and nature of the project
  • Life cycle of the project
  • Capabilities of management at all levels

Once agreement has been reached on the project manager's authority and responsibility, the

results may be documented to delineate that role regarding:

  • Focal position
  • Conflict between the project manager and functional managers
  • Influence to cut across functional and organizational lines
  • Participation in major management and technical decisions
  • Collaboration in staffing the project
  • Control over allocation and expenditure of funds
  • Selection of subcontractors
  • Rights in resolving conflicts
  • Input in maintaining the integrity of the project team
  • Establishment of project plans
  • Provisions for a cost-effective information system for control
  • Provisions for leadership in preparing operational requirements
  • Maintenance of prime customer liaison and contact
  • Promotion of technological and managerial improvements
  • Establishment of project organization for the duration
  • Elimination of red tape

In addition to this, documenting the project manager's authority is necessary in some situations


All interfacing must be kept as simple as possible.

Project manager must have the authority to "force" functional managers to depart from

existing standards and possibly incur risk.

Gaining authority over those elements of a program that are not under the project manager's

control is essential. This is normally achieved by earning the respect of the individuals


The project manager should not attempt to fully describe the exact authority and

responsibilities of the project office personnel or team members. Problem solving rather

than role definition should be encouraged.

In most cases, although documenting project authority is undesirable, it may be a necessary

prerequisite, especially if project initiation and planning require a formal project chart. Power and

authority are often discussed as though they go hand in hand. Authority comes from people above

you, perhaps by delegation, whereas power comes from people below you. You can have authority

without power or power without authority.

Most individuals maintain position power in a traditional organizational structure. The higher up

you sit, the more power you have. But in project management, the reporting level of the project

might be irrelevant, especially if a project sponsor exists. In project management, the project

manager's power base emanates from his:

  • Expertise (technical or managerial)
  • Credibility with employees
  • Sound decision-making ability

Keeping in view its significance, the last item is usually preferred. If the project manager is

regarded as a sound decision maker, then the employees normally give the project manager a great

deal or power over them.

Here it is important to discuss leadership. Leadership styles refer to the interpersonal influence

modes that a project manager can use. Project managers may have to use several different

leadership styles, depending on the makeup of the project personnel. Conflict management is

important because if the project manager can predict what conflicts will occur and when they are

most likely to occur, he may be able to plan for the resolution of the conflicts through project

administration. The object, of course, is to develop a project plan that shows complete distribution

of resources and the corresponding costs. The project manager begins with a coarse (arrow diagram)

network and then decides on the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The Work Breakdown

Structure (WBS) is essential to the arrow diagram and should be constructed so that reporting

elements and levels are easily identifiable.

For each element in the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), eventually there will be an arrow

diagram and detailed chart. If there exists too much detail, the project manager can refine the

diagram by combining all logic into one plan and can then decide on the work assignments. There is

a risk here that, by condensing the diagrams as much as possible, there may be a loss of clarity. All

the charts and schedules can be integrated into one summary-level figure. This can be

accomplished at each Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) level until the desired plan is achieved.

Moving ahead, finally, project, line, and executive management must analyze other internal and

external variables before finalizing these schedules. A partial listing of these variables includes:

  • Introduction or acceptance of the product in the marketplace
  • Present or planned manpower availability
  • Economic constraints of the project
  • Degree of technical difficulty
  • Manpower availability
  • Availability of personnel training
  • Priority of the project

In small companies and projects, certain items in the figure 25.1 below may be omitted, such as the

Linear Responsibility Chart (LRC).

25.2 The Project Charter:

Initially, the original concept behind the project charter was to document the project manager's

authority and responsibility, especially for projects implemented away from the home office.

Today, the project charter has been expanded to become more of an internal legal document

identifying to the line managers and his personnel not only the project manager's authority and

responsibility, but also the management- and/or customer-approved scope of the project.

In theoretical terms, the sponsor prepares the charter and affixes his/her signature, but in reality,

the project manager may prepare it for the sponsor's signature. At a minimum, the charter

should include:

  • Identification of the project manager and his/her authority to apply resources to the project
  • The business purpose that the project was undertaken to address, including all assumptions and constraints
  • Summary of the conditions defining the project

What is a “charter”? It is a "legal" agreement between the project manager and the company. Some

companies supplement the charter with a "contract" that functions as an agreement between the

project and the line organizations.

Recently, within the last two years or so, some companies have converted the charter into a highly

detailed document containing:

  • The scope baseline/scope statement
  • Scope and objectives of the project (Statement of Work (SOW)
  • Specifications
  • Work Breakdown Structure (template levels)
  • Timing
  • Spending plan (S-curve)
  • Management plan
  • Resource requirements and man loading (if known)
  • Résumés of key personnel
  • Organizational relationships and structure
  • Responsibility assignment matrix
  • Support required from other organizations
  • Project policies and procedures
  • Change management plan
  • Management approval of above

The project charter may function as the project plan when it contains a scope baseline and

management plan. This is not really an effective use of the charter, but it may be acceptable on

certain types of projects for internal customers.

25.3 Management Control:

It is essential that careful management control must be established because the planning phase

provides the fundamental guidelines for the remainder of the project. In addition, since planning is

an ongoing activity for a variety of different programs, management guidelines must be established

on a company-wide basis in order to achieve unity and coherence.

Note that all functional organizations and individuals working directly or indirectly on a program

are responsible for identifying, to the project manager, scheduling and planning problems that

require corrective action during both the planning cycle and the operating cycle. The program

manager bears the ultimate and final responsibility for identifying requirements for corrective


For this purpose, management policies and directives are written specifically to assist the

program manager in defining the requirements. Without clear definitions during the planning

phase, many projects run off in a variety of directions.

In this regard, many companies establish planning and scheduling management policies for the

project and functional managers, as well as a brief description of how they should interface.

25.4 The Project Manager–Line Manager Interface:

Good project planning, as well as other project functions, requires a good working relationship

between the project and line managers. The utilization of management controls does not

necessarily guarantee successful project planning. At this interface:

  • The project manager answers the following questions:
    • What is to be done? (Using the Statement of Work, Work Breakdown Structure)
    • When will the task be done? (Using the summary schedule)
    • Why will the task be done? (Using the Statement of Work)
    • How much money is available? (Using the Statement of Work)
  • The line manager answers the following questions:
    • How will the task be done? (i.e., technical criteria)
    • Where will the task be done? (i.e., technical criteria)
    • Who will do the task? (i.e., staffing)

Furthermore, project managers may be able to tell line managers ''how" and "where," provided

that the information appears in the Statement of Work (SOW) as a requirement for the project.

Even then, the line manager can take exception based on his technical expertise.

The following figures 25.2 and 25.3, that is, “The Brick Wall” and “Modified Brick Wall”

respectively, show what can happen when project managers overstep their bounds. In Figure

25.2 below, the manufacturing manager built a brick wall to keep the project managers away

from his personnel because the project managers were telling his line people how to do their

job. In Figure 25.3 “Modified Brick Wall”, the subproject managers (for simplicity's sake,

equivalent to project engineers) would have, as their career path, promotions to Assistant

Project Managers (A.P.Ms). Unfortunately, the Assistant Project Managers still felt that they

were technically competent enough to give technical direction, and this created havoc for the

engineering managers.

In view of this, the simplest solution to all of these problems is for the project manager to

provide the technical direction through the line managers. After all, the line managers are

supposedly the true technical experts.

25.5 Project Fast-Tracking:

No matter how well we plan, sometimes something happens that causes havoc on the project.

Such is the case when either the customer or management changes the project's constraints.

Consider Figure 25.4 “The information explosion” and let us assume that the execution time for

the construction of the project is one year. To prepare the working drawings and specifications

down through level 5 of the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) would require an additional 35

percent of the expected execution time, and if a feasibility study is required, then an additional

40 percent will be added on. In other words, if the execution phase of the project is one year,

then the entire project is almost two years.

Let us now assume that management wishes to keep the end date fixed but the start date is

delayed because of lack of adequate funding. How can this be accomplished without sacrificing

the quality?

What should be the answer to it? The answer is to fast-track the project. Fast-tracking a project

means that activities that are normally done in series are done in parallel. An example of this is

when construction begins before detail design is completed.


The Information Explosion

Now the question arises as to how would this help. Fast-tracking a job can accelerate the

schedule but requires that additional risks be taken. If the risks materialize, then either the end

date will slip or expensive rework will be needed. Almost all project driven companies fasttrack

projects. The danger, however, is when fast-tracking becomes a way of life on all projects.

25.6 Configuration Management:

Configuration management or configuration change control is one of the most critical tools

employed by a project manager. As projects progress downstream through the various life-cycle

phases, the cost of engineering changes can grow boundlessly. It is not uncommon for

companies to bid on proposals at 40 percent below their own cost hoping to make up the

difference downstream with engineering changes. It is also quite common for executives to

"encourage" project managers to seek out engineering changes because of their profitability.

What is configuration management? It is a control technique, through an orderly process, for

formal review and approval of configuration changes. If properly implemented, configuration

management provides:

  • Appropriate levels of review and approval for changes
  • Focal points for those seeking to make changes
  • A single point of input to contracting representatives in the customer's and contractor's office for approved changes

At a minimum, the configuration control committee should include representation from the

customer, contractor, and line group initiating the change. Discussions should answer the

following questions:

  • What is the cost of the change?
  • Do the changes improve quality?
  • Is the additional cost for this quality justifiable?
  • Is the change necessary?
  • Is there an impact on the delivery date?

As we know that changes cost money. Therefore, it is imperative that configuration management be

implemented correctly. The following steps can enhance the implementation process:

  • Define the starting point or "baseline" configuration
  • Define the "classes" of changes
  • Define the necessary controls or limitations on both the customer and contractor
  • Identify policies and procedures, such as:
    • Board chairman
    • Voters/alternatives
    • Meeting time
    • Agenda
    • Approval forums
    • Step-by-step processes
    • Expedition processes in case of emergencies

It is essential to know that effective configuration control pleases both customer and contractor.

Overall benefits include:

  • Better communication among staff
  • Better communication with the customer
  • Better technical intelligence
  • Reduced confusion for changes
  • Screening of frivolous changes
  • Providing a paper trail

Lastly, but importantly, it must be understood that configuration control, as used here, is not a

replacement for design review meetings or customer interface meetings. These meetings are still

an integral part of all projects.

<Previous Lesson

Project Management

Next Lesson>


Lesson Plan


Go to Top

Next Lesson
Previous Lesson
Lesson Plan
Go to Top