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Project Management

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Broad Contents

Successful Project Manager

Role of Project Manager

Project Champions

Project Manager’s Power/ Authority

Functional and Project Organizations

7.1 Successful Project Manager:

A good project management methodology provides a framework with repeatable processes,

guidelines, and techniques to greatly increase the odds of success, and therefore, provides value

to the project and the Project Manager. However, it should be understood up front that project

management is not totally a science, and there is never a guarantee of success. Just the fact that

a Project Manager is using a methodology increases the odds of project success. Successful

project management is strongly dependent on:

• A good daily working relationship between the Project Manager and those line managers

who directly assign resources to projects.

• The ability of functional employees to report vertically to their line manager at the same

time that they report horizontally to one or more Project Managers.

These two items become critical. In the first item, functional employees who are assigned to a

Project Manager still take technical direction from their line managers. Second, employees who

report to multiple managers will always favor the managers who control their purse strings.

Thus, most Project Managers appear always to be at the mercy of the line managers.

Classical management has often been defined as a process in which the manager does not

necessarily perform things for himself, but accomplishes objectives through others in a group

situation. This basic definition also applies to the Project Manager. In addition, a Project

Manager must help himself. There is nobody else to help him.

If we take a close look at project management, we will see that the Project Manager actually

works for the line managers, not vice versa. Many executives do not realize this. They have a

tendency to put a halo around the head of the Project Manager and give him a bonus at project

termination, when, in fact, the credit should really go to the line managers, who are continually

pressured to make better use of their resources. The Project Manager is simply the agent

through whom this is accomplished. So why do some companies glorify the project

management position?


7.2 Role of the Project Manager:

A Project Manager is the person who has the overall responsibility for the successful planning

and execution of a project. This title is used in the construction industry, architecture,

information technology and many different occupations that are based on production of a

product or service.

The Project Manager must possess a combination of skills including an ability to ask

penetrating questions, detect unstated assumptions and resolve interpersonal conflicts as well as

more systematic management skills.

Key amongst his/her duties is the recognition that risk directly impacts the likelihood of success

and that this risk must be both formally and informally measured throughout the lifetime of the


Risk arises primarily from uncertainty and the successful Project Manager is the one who

focuses upon this as the main concern. Most of the issues that impact a project arise in one way

or another from risk. A good Project Manager can reduce risk significantly, often by adhering to

a policy of open communication, ensuring that every significant participant has an opportunity

to express opinions and concerns.

It follows from the above that a Project Manager is one who is responsible for making decisions

both large and small, in such a way that risk is controlled and uncertainty minimized. Every

decision taken by the Project Manager should be taken in such a way that it directly benefits the


Project Managers use project management software, such as Microsoft Project, to organize their

tasks and workforce. These software packages allow Project Managers to produce reports and

charts in a few minutes, compared to the several hours it can take if they do not use a software


7.3 Roles and Responsibilities of Project Manager:

The role of the Project Manager encompasses many activities including:

  • Planning and defining scope
  • Activity planning and sequencing
  • Resource planning
  • Developing schedules
  • Time estimating
  • Cost estimating
  • Developing a budget
  • Controlling quality
  • Managing risks and issues
  • Creating charts and schedules
  • Risk analysis
  • Benefits realization
  • Scalability, interoperability and portability analysis
  • Documentation
  • Team leadership
  • Strategic influencing
  • Customer liaison

To illustrate the role of the Project Manager, consider the time, cost, and performance

constraints shown in the Figure 7.1 below. Many functional managers, if left alone, would

recognize only the performance constraint: "Just give me another $50,000 and two more

months, and I will give you the ideal technology."

The Project Manager, as part of these communicating, coordinating, and integrating

responsibilities, reminds the line managers that there are also time and cost constraints on the

project. This is the starting point for better resource control.59

Figure 7.1: Overview of Project Management

Success in project management is like a three-legged stool. The first leg is the Project Manager,

the second leg is the line manager, and the third leg is senior management. If any of the three

legs fail, then even delicate balancing may not prevent the stool from toppling down.

The critical node in project management is the Project Manager–Line Manager interface. At this

interface, the project and line managers must view each other as equals and be willing to share

authority, responsibility, and accountability. In excellently managed companies, Project

Managers do not negotiate for resources but simply ask for the line manager's commitment to

executing his portion of the work within time, cost, and performance. Therefore, in excellent

companies, it should not matter who the line manager assigns as long as the line manager lives

up to his commitments.

Since the project and line managers are "equals," senior management involvement is necessary

to provide advice and guidance to the Project Manager, as well as to provide encouragement to

the line managers to keep their promises. When executives act in this capacity, they assume the

role of project sponsors, as shown in Figure 7.2 below, which also shows that sponsorship need

not always be at the executive levels. The exact person appointed as the project sponsor is based

on the dollar value of the project, the priority of the project, and who the customer is.

The ultimate objective of the project sponsor is to provide behind-the-scenes assistance to

project personnel for projects both "internal" to the company, as well as "external,".

Projects can still be successful without this commitment and support, as long as all work flows

smoothly. But in time of crisis, having a ''big brother" available as a possible sounding board

will surely help.

When an executive is required to act as a project sponsor, then the executive has the

responsibility to make effective and timely project decisions. To accomplish this, the executive

needs timely, accurate, and complete data for such decisions. The Project Manager must be

made to realize that keeping management informed serves this purpose, and that the all-toocommon

practice of "stonewalling" will prevent an executive from making effective decisions

related to the project.

The line manager has to cope with:

Unlimited work requests (especially during competitive bidding)

• Predetermined deadlines

• All requests having a high priority

• Limited number of resources

• Limited availability of resources

• Unscheduled changes in the project plan

• Unpredicted lack of progress

• Unplanned absence of resources

• Unplanned breakdown of resources

• Unplanned loss of resources

• Unplanned turnover of personnel

Negotiating activities of System Management

The difficulty in staffing, especially for Project Managers or Assistant Project Managers, is in

determining what questions to ask during an interview to see if an individual has the necessary

or desired characteristics. There are numerous situations in which individuals are qualified to be

promoted vertically but not horizontally. An individual with poor communication skills and

interpersonal skills can be promoted to a line management slot because of his technical

expertise, but this same individual is not qualified for project management promotion.

Managing the Project

Most executives have found that the best way to interview is by reading each element of the job

description to the potential candidate. Many individuals want a career path in project

management but are totally unaware of what the Project Manager's duties are.

So far we have discussed the personal characteristics of the Project Manager. There are also job

related questions to consider, such as:

Are feasibility and economic analyses necessary?

• Is complex technical expertise required? If so, is it within the individual's capabilities?

• If the individual is lacking expertise, will there be sufficient backup strength in the line


• Is this the company's or the individual's first exposure to this type of project and/or client? If

so, what are the risks to be considered?

• What is the priority for this project, and what are the risks?

• With whom must the Project Manager interface, both inside and outside the organization?


Project management responsibilities

Most good Project Managers generally know how to perform feasibility studies and cost-benefit

analyses. Sometimes this capability can create organizational conflict. A major utility company

begins each computer project with a feasibility study in which a cost-benefit analysis is


The Project Managers, all of whom report to a project management division, perform the study

themselves without any direct functional support. The functional managers argue that the results

are grossly inaccurate because the functional experts are not involved. The Project Manager, on

the other hand, argues that they never have sufficient time or money to perform a complete


There are also good reasons for recruiting from outside the company. A new Project Manager

hired from the outside would be less likely to have strong informal ties to any one line

organization and thus, could show impartiality on the project. Some companies further require

that the individual spend an apprenticeship period of twelve to eighteen months in a line

organization to find out how the company functions, to become acquainted with some of the

people, and to understand the company's policies and procedures.

One of the most important but often least understood characteristics of good Project Managers is their

ability to understand and know both themselves and their employees in terms of strengths and


7.4 Project Champions:

Corporations encourage employees to think up new ideas that, if approved by the corporation,

will generate monetary and non-monetary rewards for the idea generator. One such reward is to

identify the individual as a "Project Champion”. Unfortunately, all too often the Project

Champion becomes the Project Manager, and, although the idea was technically sounds, the

project fails.

Table 7.1: Project Managers versus Project Champions

7.5 Power and Authority of Project Manager:

One form of the Project Manager's authority can be defined as the legal or rightful power to

command, act, or direct the activities of others. The breakdown of the Project Manager's

authority is shown in Figure 7.6 below. Authority can be delegated from one's superiors. Power,

on the other hand, is granted to an individual by his subordinates and is a measure of their

respect for him. A manager's authority is a combination of his power and influence such that

subordinates, peers, and associates willingly accept his judgment.

In the traditional structure, the power spectrum is realized through the hierarchy, whereas in the

project structure, power comes from credibility, expertise, or being a sound decision-maker.

Authority is the key to the project management process. The Project Manager must manage

across functional and organizational lines by bringing together activities required to accomplish

the objectives of a specific project. Project authority provides the way of thinking required to

unify all organizational activities toward accomplishment of the project regardless of where

they are located.

The Project Manager who fails to build and maintain his alliances will soon find opposition or

indifference to his project requirements.

The amount of authority granted to the Project Manager varies according to project size,

management philosophy, and management interpretation of potential conflicts with functional

managers. There do exist, however, certain fundamental elements over which the Project

Manager must have authority in order to maintain effective control.

Figure 7.6: Project Authority Breakdown

Generally speaking, a project manager should have more authority than his responsibility calls

for, the exact amount of authority usually depending on the amount of risk that the Project

Manager must take. The greater the risk, the greater the amount of authority is. A good Project

Manager knows where his authority ends and does not hold an employee responsible for duties

that he (the Project Manager) does not have the authority to enforce. Some projects are directed

by Project Managers who have only monitoring authority. These Project Managers are referred

to as influence Project Managers.

Failure to establish authority relationships can result in:

Poor communication channels

• Misleading information

• Antagonism, especially from the informal organization

• Poor working relationships with superiors, subordinates, peers, and associates

• Surprises for the customer


The following are the most common sources of power and authority problems in a project


  • Poorly documented or no formal authority
  • Power and authority perceived incorrectly
  • Dual accountability of personnel
  • Two bosses (who often disagree)
  • The project organization encouraging individualism
  • Subordinate relations stronger than peer or superior relationships
  • Shifting of personnel loyalties from vertical to horizontal lines
  • Group decision making based on the strongest group
  • Ability to influence or administer rewards and punishment
  • Sharing resources among several projects


The project management organizational structure is an arena of continuous conflict and

negotiation. Although there are many clearly defined authority boundaries between functional

and project management responsibilities, the fact that each project can be inherently different

from all others almost always creates new areas where authority negotiations are necessary.

Certain ground rules exist for authority control through negotiations. Negotiations should

take place at the lowest level of interaction.

Definition of the problem must be the first priority. This should include:

  • The issue
  • The impact
  • The alternative
  • The recommendations

Higher-level authority should be used if, and only if, agreement cannot be reached.

7.6 Functional and Project Organizations:

Functional organization is structure in which authority rests with the functional heads; the

structure is sectioned by departmental groups.

7.6.1 Advantages of Functional Structure:

  • Simple and clear; coordination left to top management
  • Reduces overhead
  • Provides clearly marked career paths for hiring and promotion
  • Employees work alongside colleagues who share similar interests

7.6.2 Disadvantages of Functional Structure:

Coordination of functional tasks is difficult; little reward for cooperation with other

groups since authority resides with functional supervisor.

• Provides scope for different department heads to pass-off company project failures

as being due to the failures of other departments.

7.6.3 Matrix Organizations:

Most organizations fall somewhere between the fully functional and fully projectized

organizational structure. These are matrix organizations. Three points along the

organizational continuum have been defined.


1. Weak/Functional Matrix:

A Project Manager (often called a project administrator under this type of

organization) with only limited authority is assigned to oversee the crossfunctional

aspects of the project. The functional managers maintain control over

their resources and project areas. The project administrator’s role is to enhance

communication between functional managers and track overall project progress.

2. Balanced/Functional Matrix:

A Project Manager is assigned to oversee the project. Power is shared equally

between the Project Manager and the functional managers. Proponents of this

structure believe it strikes the correct balance, bringing forth the best aspects of

functional and projectized organizations. However, this is the most difficult

system to maintain as the sharing of power is a very delicate proposition. This

is also the most complex organizational structure to maintain.

3. Strong/Project Matrix:

A Project Manager is primarily responsible for the project. Functional

managers provide technical expertise and assign resources on an as-needed

basis. Because project resources are assigned as necessary, there can be

conflicts between the Project Manager and the functional manager over

resource assignment. The functional manager has to staff multiple projects with

the same experts.

4. Soft boundaries Matrix:

A fourth organization type is the “soft boundaries matrix”. In this the functional

team members provide technical expertise and assign resources on an as-needed

basis. Because project resources are assigned as necessary there is no need for

Project Managers or a functional manager over resource assignment.

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