Organizational Structures - Team

This type of organization focuses all resources on projects. Many organizations today establish cross functional task force teams to handle strategic and crucial projects.

These teams are an example of a project team organization structure. Typically resources are assigned full time to a project and they form the core team. The core team is supplemented with other expertise on an as needed basis. 

The role of the functional manager is eliminated or they act as internal technical consultants to the project team, and the project manager is responsible for the project budget, scope, schedule and all other resource, contractual and customer issues. 

This type of organizational structure is suitable for fixed price fixed time contracts. Organizations that adopt this kind of organization structures will need to insure that their financial and other corporate systems are setup for project data collection and reporting. 

Ideally project managers should have the authority to hire outside consultants or resources to keep the project on track.

Organizational Structures - Matrix

In this type of organization structure resources are still grouped by their functional skills, however work is primarily done through projects and a single point of contact (project manager / project coordinator) for each project is established.

Ideally, the project managers are grouped in a separate unit or department and they are responsible for the successful delivery of projects from concept to product release. Resources working on projects in a matrix environment report to their functional line manager as well as to the project manager for their project. This can become a source of conflict as the functional manager views their own role as being responsible for the work of their resources across all projects, while the project manager is responsible for a specific project. 

With multiple project assignments resource’s priorities can shift as they are now assigned to more than one project at the same time. Establishing clear roles and responsibilities for functional and project managers is important for the better utilization of this type of organization structure. 

The matrix organization is suitable for large projects that require significant cross-functional resources, and with a project manager in charge, there is a better overall project communications. This type of structure can foster better project resource team spirit. To run projects efficiently in a matrix organization, project managers should own the project budget and should be able to plan for and communicate in advance resource requirements.

Organizational Structures - Functional

In this type of organization structure resources are grouped into functional specific units or departments based on their functional and or technical skills, and are excellent for operation (on going) type activities and they are also useful for managing small projects where the majority of the technical work is done within the same unit.

These types of organization structures, fall short in terms of timely delivery in a situation that requires extensive cross functional communication and cooperation. There s a chance of failure due to the lack of project ownership as resources in general will view their part of the project as part of their regular work and once they are done with their part they have nothing to do with the project. The project leader has little or no authority over resources outside of his / her department or unit.

Project Environment

For a project to be successful, there's a need to define its environment in terms of organizational structures, project classifications, portfolio project management, resource commitment, ...

Project Management Life Cycle

Project management as a function has its own distinct processes typified by the life cycle chart.

Planning is erroneously perceived as a phase in project management. This would be true only if one could freeze the change on all five-project variables (time, scope, quality, resources, budget). Under such a scenario, projects can be planned once, up front and the outcome (the project plan) followed to the completion of the project. Since this is rare if not quite impossible in real life, it does make sense to say that where there is change there is a definite need to revamp the project plan to incorporate or deflect the changes, thus reflecting reality. In other words, planning is an iterative process, which is on going through out the life of the project. The format and degree of detail in planning is a function of the size and complexity of the project and the degree of control required.

During the execution process, monitoring project performance is crucial to the project. It represents the vehicle for capturing progress, measuring variances and change through out the life of the project. Proper project management requires the development and implementation of project specific monitoring processes and procedures to be utilized when managing a project.

Control is the decision making mechanisms available in an Organization that can be brought to bear on a project to address problems and issues as they arise to insure a successful delivery of the project goals and objectives. Control can be established utilizing a combination of specific formal and non-formal meetings (status, progress reporting and product reviews etc.). 

Closing the project includes a set of policies and procedures that need to be defined to close a project, archive it and obtain end user acceptance and sign off.

Project Manager's Role

What do you think the role of the project manager is in your organization?

Project Variables

In a project environment it's possible to identify variables that are inter-related and can impact the success of a project. The degree of flexibility for each variable is different from one project to another. They also could vary on the same project depending on the phase of the project or its status. Example of variables are:

The amount of work to be done represented by all the activities in the project plan.

The established time frame for executing the project represented by the time elapsed between the defined start and end date of the project deliverables.

The project budget and /or available funding for the project.

People, materials and equipment necessary to deliver the project. 

The performance capability, which meets or exceeds the end user expectation. 

Project management is the art and science of measuring, analyzing and managing the change in a project represented by these variables. Every person involved in a project whether they are managers, project leaders, contractors, vendors, project team members and owners should understand and appreciate the degree of flexibility available at all times. As part of the project planning process, the project manager should conduct a project variable and priority status discussion, to insure all project participants are fully aware of the constraints and flexibility in their project environment.

The differences between Project, Operation and Program

We said that a project is defined as a temporary endeavor that consumes resources, incurs cost and produce deliverables over a finite period of time to achieve a specific goal. They come in all shapes and sizes and can vary in length or complexity.

Operation type activities are similar to project activities in that they too produce deliverables, consume resources and incur cost. However they are on-going or repetitive in nature, hence they are not project activities or tasks. Some examples of operation activities are weekly maintenance of databases, paying invoices or help desk operations activities.

Programs are much larger than projects. They are made up of many projects and on going activities such as operation type activities and are similar to projects as they consume resources, incur cost and produce deliverables. However programs are more complex and include repetitive operation type activities such as maintenance work, facility administration etc, and are funded typically on a fiscal year basis. 

Projects in general are more time focused than programs.

Project behaviour during lifecycle

What is the behaviour of the curve during different time intervals, such as at (0), (0, 20-30%], (20-30%, 50%], (50%, 75%], and (75%, 100].

Brief analysis and points of discussion

Since a project has a temporary endeavor, the timeframe has to be finite. The broken lines in the graph represent finite areas such as phases or milestones. The black graph represents the estimated project plan schedule, the blue graph represents an early schedule, and the red graph represents a lagging schedule.

In an ideal situation the beginning is usually slow because people need to acquire confidence with the project, and once the schedule has achieved 20-30% of the work completed, the slope of the graph will change and will accelerate due to the confidence and knowledge acquired. At 70-80% the schedule has reached a very good level of control and will continue with confidence to full completion of the project.

What is the scenario before Time=0, i.e., before launching of the project?

In practice, most organizations don't really start from scratch when launching a project. Some pre-analysis work has been done in order to get an idea of what has to be done in terms of requirements, characteristics and resources needed for the project. With this information (although it's at high level), it's possible to make an estimation of the time and cost; decisions are usually taken after this information is available (or at least we reach a confidence level of 80%). The realization of a successful project will require commitments from the operating organization and all stakeholders.

Thinking how to proceed with topics on project management ...

Thinking how to graphically represent the typical behavior of a project.

Defining a project

A project is something that has a temporary endeavor, has unique activities, has defined deliverables, consumes resources, incurs cost, ...

Why do we need to implement project management?

Implementing project management means having knowledge of all processes, techniques, and methods that govern the life-cycle of a project. 

As a consequence, we are able to:
-Meet the customer’s expectation
-Meet project deadlines and accountability
-Manage project profit margins
-Efficient resource utilization
-Manage information for faster decision making

Start of my discussion on Project and Program Management

Projects are initiated in response to a problem or to take advantage of an opportunity. They are defined as a temporary endeavor that consumes resources, incurs cost and produce deliverables over a finite period of time to achieve a specific goal. Projects come in all shapes and sizes. They can vary in length or complexity, but the above mentioned definition of a project holds true for all of them.

Listed here are examples of projects:

-Organizational Process Re-Engineering
-Relocation Of Facilities & Equipment
-Designing A Web Enabled Systems
-Developing New or Enhancing Existing Products
-Migration from mainframe to a windows-based distributed client-server system

Project management is the art and science of planning, controlling and tracking of activities and resources to achieve the organization’s strategic and business objectives.