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realities organizational life
The first edition of Managing Projects in Organizations was published in 1987. Its entry into the marketplace at that time was propitious, because it coincided with a surging worldwide interest in project management. From the beginning, book sales were respectable. Quite a few colleges and universities adopted it for use in introductory courses in project management, and training departments in organizations such as AT&T, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac distributed it to employees who were studying project management topics.
The second edition was published in 1995. Although the fundamental premises of project management had not changed since the book first came out, new developments in the business arena altered the business environment sufficiently that the books contents needed to be adjusted to reflect the new conditions. For example, the explosive growth of Total Quality Management in the late 1980s and early 1990s put customers at center stage of all business activity. My copious references to end users in the first edition seemed too limiting in the new environment. In the second edition, I broadened my approach to address the concerns of all customers, not just end users.
Time marches on, and it became necessary to issue this newest edition of Managing Projects in Organizations. Of particular note has been the growing influence of the Project Management Institute (PMI) as the worlds standard-setting body in project management. In 1996 and again in 2000, PMI made revisions to its A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, known best by its acronym, PMBOK(PMI, 1996,2000). In these revisions, PMI took major steps toward updating world standards on project management practice. For example, over the years, there has been substantial confusion about how work breakdown structures (WBSs) should be developed. One approach was to focus on product-oriented WBSs and the other on task-oriented WBSs. PMI finally resolved this issue in 2001 when it published PMI Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures
(PMI, 2001) and suggested that WBSs could contain both product and task elements.
Another example: Many business enterprises were reluctant to adopt the important earned-value approach to integrated cost and schedule control because they saw this method as too arcane. It originated in the military and employed unfriendly terminology that was difficult to comprehend. Beginning in the mid-1990s and continuing through today, the earned-value community has made some changes to earned-value processes and vocabulary to make this method more accessible to ordinary businesses.
This third edition of Managing Projects in Organizations has been updated to accommodate changes in the business environment and project management practices that have arisen since 1995. In addition to the changes already noted, the book has new material on establishing a project office, managing project portfolios, and managing virtual teams.
Let the reader beware! Managing Projects in Organizations is designed to be an introduction to project management. It is written to provide readers with a fairly quick and painless overview of key issues. I recently received a copy of a project management textbook by a prominent author. It is more than one thousand pages long! I suspect that novices would take one look at this book and conclude that project management is an arcane discipline best left to engineers with plenty of technical training. In my opinion, that conclusion would be incorrect.
This book is written for information age workers searching for a way to get a handle on the projects they have been assigned to run. I am talking here about office workers, educators, information systems managers, R&D personnel, lawyers, writers, budgeters, and the vast number of other people whose work causes them to manipulate information rather than tangible things. It is likely that these individuals have drifted into positions of responsibility as a natural outgrowth of their routine activities. By showing some degree of initiative and organizational ability in carrying out their daily tasks, they find one day that they have been given responsibility for carrying out a project.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT AS THE ACCIDENTAL PROFESSION
Project management has been called the accidental profession. It is accidental in at least two senses. First, until quite recently, it has not been a profession that people have consciously chosen to pursue. No child answers the question, What do you want to be when you grow up? with the answer, Why, a project manager, of course! People typically become project managers after stumbling onto project management responsibilities.
Project management is an accidental profession in a second sense as well: knowledge of how to run projects often is not acquired through systematic inquiry but is gained in a hit-or-miss fashion. Having received little or no formal preparation for their jobs, typical project managers set out to reinvent the fundamental precepts of project management. Frequently, their trial-and-error efforts result in costly mistakes. If novice project managers are good at their jobs, they chalk up these mistakes to experience and avoid them in the future. After five to ten years of this process, the novice (if he or she has survived this long) graduates to the status of seasoned professional.
Great strides have been made in recent years to reduce the level of accident in our projects. Beginning in the late 1980s, key decision makers in organizations began to realize that the project management approach could offer them significant help in achieving results in chaotic times. To diminish the level of accident in managing projects, organizations began requiring their employees to learn project management skills more systematically.
Today, many companies are working diligently to improve their project management competencies. Interestingly, this new commitment to project management excellence is occurring in a wide array of industries. Some are traditional project-focused industries, such as construction, aerospace, and defense. But most of the commitment seems to be coming from nontraditional information age industries, such as telecommunications, computer systems, banking, insurance, and pharmaceuticals.
Commitment to upgrading project management skills is not solely a North American concern. East Asian, European, Middle Eastern, and Latin American organizations are now putting their employees through project management training programs and encouraging
them to become certified Project Management Professionals through the certification program of the Project Management Institute.
I have worked with information age projects all my adult life. As an undergraduate and graduate student, I was immersed in information-based projects for homework assignments, computer programming, term papers, and finally my doctoral dissertation. In industry, I was a full-time project manager for seven years, running about twenty-five archetypical information age projects. Most of them involved the design of scientific research evaluation systems, software development, office automation, and the writing of technical reports. Like 99 percent of my colleagues, I learned project management on the job. In 1979, I left industry for academia, and since then I have been teaching graduate courses on project management.
Since 1983, I have also been conducting seminars on the management of information age projects. About thirty thousand experienced project managers have taken these seminars. My family refers to them as my road show, since they are held in different cities throughout the world. I first took my road show abroad in the summer of 1985, when I carried it to China, where I frequently return with my project management courses. I have also delivered seminars in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Korea, France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Finland, Poland, South Africa, and Canada. It is comforting to see that Murphys Law is as alive abroad as in the United States.
CONTENTS OF THE BOOK
My experiences as both a practicing project manager and a teacher have led me to conclude that what information age project professionals want and need is a practical and flexible approach to managing their projects. This book is designed to give them such an approach. It recognizes that many of the commonly employed tools used on traditional projects are of limited utility to information age knowledge workers. It shows how the traditional tools, with some modification, can be usefully employed on these projects. It also offers insights into new tools that are emerging and are ideally suited for application on information age projects. Readers interested in a more advanced treat-
ment of project management might want to investigate my recently published work, The New Project Management (2002).
The Introduction to Managing Projects in Organizations provides a broad overview of what project management is about. It defines terms and describes the stages of the project life cycle. I focus special attention on two key lessons that the book emphasizes: avoiding pitfalls and making things happen.
Part One, encompassing the first three chapters, addresses the overall project context, encompassing people, teams, and the organization. The first two chapters examine projects in their organizational context. Chapter One examines how organizational issues can lead to project success or failure. One of the principal organizational realities that project managers face is lack of authority to control directly the resources necessary for carrying out a project. Another is the central importance of politics in projects. The first chapter offers strategies for coping with these and other realities.
Chapter Two shows how project managers can improve their managerial efficacy by paying more attention to the people involved in projects. The most difficult aspect of project management is the management of human resources. When managers develop a knack for dealing with project staff, bosses, vendors, and fellow managers who control needed resources, they increase immeasurably the likelihood of project success.
The relationship between team structure and effective project management is the topic of Chapter Three. A major goal of good project managers is to fashion effective teams in environments that are inherently inimical to team building. This chapter offers pointers on how managers can improve the chances of a projects success by selecting a team structure that strengthens team efficiency. Special attention is directed to four team structures that seem particularly effective in projects: isomorphic, specialty, egoless, and surgical teams.
Part One thus focuses on projects from the perspective of organizational issues. Part Two, consisting of Chapters Four and Five, casts light on the interrelated topics of needs and requirements analysis. Although everyone acknowledges that cost and schedule overruns are bad, a little reflection suggests that a more serious failing is providing customers with deliverables that are underused, misused, or not used at all. If we define project failure in this way, then it becomes clear that an enormous fraction of the projects undertaken are in some sense failures.
Why are so many project deliverables not well used? Often because customer needs have not been met or the requirements are poorly specified. Chapter Four offers ways to improve identification of customer needs (for example, by building a needs hierarchy), and Chapter Five provides suggestions on defining requirements more effectively (for example, by employing the application prototyping methodology).
Part Three looks at a third pitfall in the management of projects, poor planning and control, and then ties together the many components of project management. Chapter Six describes the standard tools used for enhancing planning and control-for example, work breakdown structures, Gantt charts, precedence diagram method networks, resource loading charts, and resource spreadsheets. Chapter Seven discusses special planning and control topics that are not usually covered in conventional project management texts: planning and control of multiple-project portfolios, very large projects, projects that are carried out under contract, and projects carried out by virtual teams. Planning and control tools that are infrequently discussed-such as the earned-value approach, gap analysis, and the schedule milestone review technique-are also investigated here. Finally, this chapter addresses what became a hot topic in the late 1990s and continues to be important today: how to establish and maintain a project office. Chapter Eight then brings together the different pieces into a cohesive whole.
Good tools make the job of project manager easier, but the tools by themselves will not ensure success-or even mediocre performance. Going beyond a mere litany of project management techniques, this book offers an overall methodology for dealing with information age projects. It emphasizes seeing projects in their organizational context and stresses doing things right at the earliest stages to minimize the inevitable grief of having to do them over again later.
When projects are carried out nicely and chaos is converted into order, project managers justifiably feel as high as kites, denizens of a heaven of sorts that is reserved for the supercompetent. When projects go wrong, they can be like hell on earth. I hope that this book will help project managers affix the wings that will enable them to reach the heights. But as experienced project managers, we are always looking over our shoulders, always aware of the ever-present law of Murphy. Lets aim for the heights . . . but remember Icarus, remember Lucifer.
Writing books is a solitary undertaking, but every now and then, the solitude is punctuated with significant inputs from the outside. Without doubt, the greatest stimulus to my writing comes from my students in academic and corporate classrooms. They apprise me of the latest developments in their organizations, enabling me to gain early insights into issues that enterprises are facing and solutions they are implementing to deal with the issues. They also keep me on my toes as I test new ideas on them. If my ideas are without merit, they let me know, so I find myself continually humbled in the classroom.
Special thanks go to my editor at Jossey-Bass, Kathe Sweeney, who served as a sounding board for my ideas. Finally, thanks to my immediate family, Yanping, Katy, and Lele, who put up with me cheerfully when I get grouchy at the writing table.
Arlington, Virginia July 2003
J. Davidson Frame
J. Davidson Frame is academic dean at the University of Management and Technology (UMT), where he runs graduate programs in project management. Prior to joining the UMT faculty in 1998, he was on the faculty of the George Washington University. In that capacity, he established the universitys project management program and served as chairman of the Management Science Department and director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Innovation. Since 1990, he has also served as director of the Project Management Certification Program and director of Educational Services at the Project Management Institute. Before entering academia in 1979, he was vice president of Computer Horizons and manager of its Washington, D.C., office. While there, he managed more than two dozen information age projects. Since 1983, he has conducted project management and risk management seminars throughout the United States and abroad. About thirty thousand professionals have attended these seminars.
Frame earned his B.A. at the College of Wooster and his M.A. and Ph.D. in international relations at the American University, focusing primarily on econometrics and economic development. He has written more than forty articles and seven books, including The New Project Management (second edition, Jossey-Bass, 2002), Project Management Competence (Jossey-Bass, 1999), and Managing Risk in Organizations (Jossey-Bass, 2003).
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