Project Management as Seen by the Various Departments

The general manager arranged through the personnel department to interview various managers on a confidential basis. The purpose of the interview was to evaluate the overall acceptance of the concept of formal project management. The answers to the question, "How will project management affect your department?" were as follows:

Frank Harrel, quality and reliability manager

Project management is the actual coordination of the resources of functional departments to achieve the time, cost, and performance goals of the project. As a consequence, personnel interfacing is an important component toward the success of the project. In terms of quality control, it means less of the attitude of the structured workplace where quality is viewed as having the function of finding defects and, as a result, is looked upon as a hindrance to production. It means that the attitude toward quality control will change to one of interacting with other departments to minimize manufacturing problems. Project management reduces suboptimization among functional areas and induces cooperation. Both company and department goals can be achieved. It puts an end to the "can't see the forest for the trees" syndrome.

Harold Grimes, plant manager

I think that formal project management will give us more work than long-term benefits. History indicates that we hire more outside people for new positions than we promote from within. Who will be hired into these new project management jobs? We are experiencing a lot of backlash from people who are required to teach new people the ropes. In my opinion, we should assign inside MBA graduates with project management training to head up projects and not hire an outsider as a formal project manager. Our present system would work fine if inside people were made the new managers in the Business Development Department.

Herman Hall, director of MIS

I have no objections to the implementation of formal project management in our company. I do not believe, however, that it will be possible to provide the reports needed by this management structure for several years. This is due to the fact that most of my staff are deeply involved in current projects. We are currently working on the installation of minicomputers and on-line terminals throughout the plant. These projects have been delayed by the late arrival of new equipment, employee sabotage, and various start-up problems. As a result of these problems, one group admits to being six months behind schedule and the other group, although on schedule, is 18 months from their scheduled completion date. The rest of the staff currently assigned to maintenance projects consists of two systems analysts who are nearing retirement and two relatively inexperienced programmers. So, as you can readily see, unless we break up the current project teams and let those projects fall further behind schedule, it will be difficult at this time to put together another project team

The second problem is that even if I could put together a staff for the project, it might take up to two years to complete an adequate information system. Problems arise from the fact that it will take time to design a system that will draw data from all the functional areas. This design work will have to be done before the actual programming and testing could be accomplished. Finally, there would be a debugging period when we receive feedback from the user on any flaws in the system or enhancements that might be needed. We could not provide computer support to an "overnight" change to project management.

Bob Gustwell, scheduling manager

I am happy with the idea of formal project management, but I do see some problems implementing it. Some people around here like the way we do things now. It is a natural reaction for employees to fight against any changes in management style.

But don't worry about the scheduling department. My people will like the change to formal project management. I see this form of management as a way to minimize, of not eliminate, schedule changes. Better planning on the part of both department and project managers will be required, and the priorities will be set at corporate level. You can count on our support because I'm tired of being caught between production and sales.

John Rich, director of engineering

It seems to me that project management will only mess things up. We now have a good flowing chain of command in our organization. This new matrix will only create problems. The engineering department, being very technical, just can't take direction from anyone outside the department. The project office will start to skimp on specifications just to save time and dollars. Our products are too technical to allow schedules and project costs to affect engineering results.

Bringing in someone from the outside to be the project manager will make things worse. I feel that formal project management should not be implemented at Hyten. Engineering has always directed the projects, and we should keep it that way. We shouldn't change a winning combination.

Fred Kuncl, plant engineering

I've thought about the trade-offs involved in implementing formal project management at Hyten and feel that plant engineering cannot live with them. Our departmental activities are centered around highly unpredictable circumstances, which sometimes involve rapidly changing priorities related to the production function. We in plant engineering must be able to respond quickly and appropriately to maintenance activities directly related to manufacturing activities. Plant engineering is also responsible for carrying out critical preventive maintenance and plant construction projects.

Project management would hinder our activities because project management responsibilities would burden our manpower with additional tasks. I am against project management because I feel that it is not in the best interest of Hyten. Project management would weaken our department's functional specialization because it would require cross-utilization of resources, manpower, and negotiation for the services critical to plant engineering.

Bill Knapp, director of marketing

I feel that the seminar on formal project management was a good one. Formal project management could benefit Hyten. Our organization needs to focus in more than one direction at all times. In order to be successful in today's market, we must concentrate on giving all our products sharp focus. Formal project management could be a good way of placing individual emphasis on each of the products of our company. Project management would be especially advantageous to us because of our highly diversified product lines. The organization needs to efficiently allocate resources to projects, products, and markets. We cannot afford to have expensive resources sitting idle. Cross-utilization and the consequent need for negotiation ensures that resources are used efficiently and in the organization's best overall interest.

We can't afford to continue to carry on informal project management in our business. We are so diversified that all of our products can't be treated alike. Each product has different needs. Besides, the nature of a team effort would strengthen our organization.

Stanley Grant, comptroller

In my opinion, formal project management can be profitably applied in our organization. Management should not, however, expect that project management would gain instant acceptance by the functional managers and functional employees, including the finance department personnel.

The implementation of formal project management in our organization would have an impact on our cost control system and internal control system, as well.

In the area of cost control, project cost control techniques have to be formalized and installed. This would require the accounting staff to: (1) beak comprehensive cost summaries into work packages, (2) prepare commitment reports for "technical decision makers," (3) approximate report data and (4) concentrate talent on major problems and opportunities. In project management, cost commitments on a project are made when various functional departments, such as engineering, manufacturing and marketing, make technical decisions to take some kind of action. Conventional accounting reports do not show the cost effects of these technical decisions until it is too late to reconsider. We would need to provide the project manager with cost commitment reports at each decision state to enable him or her to judge when costs are getting out of control. Only by receiving such timely cost commitment reports, could the project manager take needed corrective actions and be able to approximate the cost effect of each technical decision. Providing all these reports, however, would require additional personnel and expertise in our department.

In addition, I feel that the implementation of formal project management would increase our responsibilities in finance department. We would need to conduct project audits, prepare periodic comparisons of actual versus projected costs and actual versus programmed manpower allocation, update projection reports and funding schedules, and sponsor cost improvement programs.

In the area of internal control, we will need to review and modify our existing internal control system to effectively meet our organization's goals related to project management. A careful and proper study and evaluation of existing internal control procedures should be conducted to determine the extent of the tests to which our internal auditing procedures are to be restricted. A thorough understanding of each project we undertake must be required at all times.

I'm all in favor of formal project management, provided management would allocate more resources to our department so we could maintain the personnel necessary to perform the added duties, responsibilities, and expertise required.

After the interviews, Sue Lyons talked to Wilbur Donley about the possibility of adopting formal project management. As she put it,

You realize that regardless of how much support there is for formal project management, the general manager will probably not allow us to implement it for fear it will affect the performance of the Automotive Components Division.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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