derstand how the organization works and how to work with the organization. Organizational skills are particularly important during project formation and startup when the program manager is integrating people from many different disciplines into an effective work team. It requires defining the reporting relationships, responsibilities, lines of control, and information needs. A good program plan and a task matrix are useful organizational tools. In addition, the organizational effort is facilitated by clearly defined program objectives, open communication channels, good program leadership, and senior management support.
Entrepreneurial Skills The program manager also needs a general management perspective.
For example, economic considerations affect the organization's financial performance, but objectives often are much broader than profits. Customer satisfaction, future growth, cultivation of related market activities, and minimum organizational disruptions of other programs might be equally important goals. The effective program manager is concerned with all these issues.
Entrepreneurial skills are developed through actual experience. However, formal MBA-type training, special seminars, and cross-functional training programs can help to develop the entrepreneurial skills needed by program managers.
Administrative Skills Administrative skills are essential. The program manager must be ex perienced in planning, staffing, budgeting, scheduling, and other control techniques. In dealing with technical personnel, the problem is seldom to make people understand administrative techniques such as budgeting and scheduling, but to impress on them that costs and schedules are just as important as elegant technical solutions.
Particularly on larger programs, managers rarely have all the administrative skills required. While it is important that program managers understand the company's operating procedures and available tools, it is often necessary for the program manager to free himself from administrative details regardless of his ability to handle them. He has to delegate considerable administrative tasks to support groups or hire a project administrator.
Some helpful tools for the manager in the administration of his program include: (1) the meeting, (2) the report, (3) the review, and (4) budget and schedule controls. Program managers must be thoroughly familiar with these available tools and know how to use them effectively.
Management Support The program manager is surrounded by a myriad of organizations that ei-
Building Skills ther support him or control his activities. An understanding of these in terfaces is important to program managers as it enhances their ability to build favorable relationships with senior management. Project organizations are shared-power systems with personnel of many diverse interests and "ways of doing things." Only a strong leader backed by senior management can prevent the development of unfavorable biases.
Four key variables influence the project manager's ability to create favorable relationships with senior management: (1) his ongoing credibility, (2) the visibility of his program, (3) the priority of his program relative to other organizational undertakings, and (4) his own accessibility.
Resource Allocation Skills A program organization has many bosses. Functional lines often shield support organizations from direct financial control by the project office. Once a task has been authorized, it is often impossible to control the personnel assignments, priorities, and indirect manpower costs. In addition, profit accountability is difficult owing to the interdependencies of various support departments and the often changing work scope and contents.
Effective and detailed program planning may facilitate commitment and reinforce control. Part of the plan is the "Statement of Work," which establishes a basis for resource allocation. It is also important to work out specific agreements with all key contributors and their superiors on the tasks to be performed and the associated budgets and schedules. Measurable milestones are not only important for hardware components, but also for the "invisible" program components such as systems and software tasks. Ideally, these commitments on specs, schedules, and budgets should be established through involvement by key personnel in the early phases of project formation, such as the proposal phase. This is the time when requirements are still flexible, and trade-offs among performance, schedule, and budget parameters are possible. Further, this is normally the time when the competitive spirit among potential contributors is highest, often leading to a more cohesive and challenging work plan.
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