Differing Views Of Project Management

Many companies, especially those with project-driven organizations, have differing views of project management. Some people view project management as an excellent means to achieving objectives, while others view it as a threat. In project-driven organizations, there are three career paths that lead to executive management:

• Through project management

• Through project engineering

• Through line management

In project-driven organizations, the fast-track position is in project management, whereas in a non-project-driven organization, it would be line management. Even though line managers support the project management approach, they resent the project manager because of his promotions and top-level visibility. In one construction company, a department manager was told that he had no chance for promotion above his present department manager position unless he went into project management or project engineering where he could get to know the operation of the whole company. A second construction company requires that individuals aspiring to become a department manager first spend a "tour of duty" as an assistant project manager or project engineer.

Executives may dislike project managers because more authority and control must be delegated. However, once executives realize that it is a sound business practice, it becomes important, as shown in the following letter5:

In order to sense and react quickly and to insure rapid decision-making, lines of communication should be the shortest possible between all levels of the organization. People with the most knowledge must be available at the source of the problem, and they must have decision-making authority and responsibility. Meaningful data must be available on a timely basis and the organization must be structured to produce this environment.

In the aerospace industry, it is a serious weakness to be tied to fixed organization charts, plans, and procedures. With regard to organization, we successfully married the project concept of management with a central function concept. What we came up with is an organization within an organization—one to ramrod the day-to-day problems; the other to provide support for existing projects and to anticipate the requirements for future projects.

The project system is essential in getting complicated jobs done well and on time, but it solves only part of the management problem. When you have your nose to the project grindstone, you are often not in a position to see much beyond that project. This is where the central functional organization comes in. My experience has been that you need this central organization to give you depth, flexibility, and perspective. Together, the two parts permit you to see both the woods and the trees.

Initiative is essential at all levels of the organization. We try to press the level of decision to the lowest possible rung of the managerial ladder. This type of decision-making provides motivation and permits recognition for the individual and the group at all levels. It stimulates action and breeds dedication.

5. Letter from J. Donald Rath, Vice President of Martin-Marietta Corporation, Denver Division, to J. E. Webb, of NASA, October 18, 1963.

With this kind of encouragement, the organization can become a live thing—sensitive to problems and able to move in on them with much more speed and understanding than would be normally expected in a large operation. In this way, we can regroup or reorganize easily as situations dictate and can quickly focus on a "crisis." In this industry a company must always be able to reorient itself to meet new objectives. In a more staid, old-line organization, frequent reorientation usually accompanied by a corresponding shift of people's activities, could be most upsetting. However, in the aerospace industry, we must be prepared for change. The entire picture is one of change.

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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