Reduced risks

• Identification of alternatives to problems

• Identification of alternative resolutions to conflicts

Consider the following advertisement for a facilities planning and development project manager (adapted from The New York Times, January 2, 1972):

Personable, well-educated, literate individual with college degree in Engineering to work for a small firm. Long hours, no fringe benefits, no security, little chance for advancement are among the inducements offered. Job requires wide knowledge and experience in manufacturing, materials, construction techniques, economics, management and mathematics. Competence in the use of the spoken and written English is required. Must be willing to suffer personal indignities from clients, professional derision from peers in the more conventional jobs, and slanderous insults from colleagues.

Job involves frequent extended trips to inaccessible locations throughout the world, manual labor and extreme frustration from the lack of data on which to base decisions.

Applicant must be willing to risk personal and professional future on decisions based upon inadequate information and complete lack of control over acceptance of recommendations by clients. Responsibilities for the work are unclear and little or no guidance is offered. Authority commensurate with responsibility is not provided either by the firm or its clients.

Applicant should send resume, list of publications, references and other supporting documentation to. . . .

Fortunately, these types of job descriptions are very rare today. Finding the person with the right qualifications is not an easy task because the selection of project managers is based more on personal characteristics than on the job description. In Section 4.1 a brief outline of desired characteristics was presented. Russell Archibald defines a broader range of desired personal characteristics2:

2. Russell D. Archibald, Managing High-Technology Programs and Projects (New York: Wiley, 1976), p. 55. Copyright © 1976 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

• Flexibility and adaptability

• Preference for significant initiative and leadership

• Aggressiveness, confidence, persuasiveness, verbal fluency

• Ambition, activity, forcefulness

• Effectiveness as a communicator and integrator

• Broad scope of personal interests

• Poise, enthusiasm, imagination, spontaneity

• Able to balance technical solutions with time, cost, and human factors

• Well organized and disciplined

• A generalist rather than a specialist

• Able and willing to devote most of his time to planning and controlling

• Able to identify problems

• Willing to make decisions

• Able to maintain proper balance in the use of time

This ideal project manager would probably have doctorates in engineering, business, and psychology, and experience with ten different companies in a variety of project office positions, and would be about twenty-five years old. Good project managers in industry today would probably be lucky to have 70 to 80 percent of these characteristics. The best project managers are willing and able to identify their own shortcomings and know when to ask for help.

Figures 4-1 and 4-2 show the basic knowledge and responsibilities that construction project managers should possess. The apprenticeship program for training construction project managers could easily be ten years.

The difficulty in staffing, especially for project managers or assistant project managers, is in determining what questions to ask during an interview to see if an individual has the necessary or desired characteristics. Individuals may be qualified to be promoted vertically but not horizontally. An individual with poor communication skills and interpersonal skills can be promoted to a line management slot because of his technical expertise, but this same individual is not qualified for project management promotion.

One of the best ways to interview is to read each element of the job description to the potential candidate. Many individuals want a career path in project management but are totally unaware of what the project manager's duties are.

So far we have discussed the personal characteristics of the project manager. There are also job-related questions to consider, such as:

• Are feasibility and economic analyses necessary?

• Is complex technical expertise required? If so, is it within the individual's capabilities?

• If the individual is lacking expertise, will there be sufficient backup strength in the line organizations?

• Is this the company's or the individual's first exposure to this type of project and/or client? If so, what are the risks to be considered?

• What is the priority for this project, and what are the risks?

• With whom must the project manager interface, both inside and outside the organization?

[Image not available in this electronic edition.]

FIGURE 4-1. Project management responsibilities. Source: L. J. Weber, W. Riethmeier, A. F. Westergard, and K. O. Hartley, "The Project Sponser's View," Project Management Institute Inc., Realities in Project Management: Proceedings of the 8th Annual Seminars and Symposium, Chicago, Illinois (1977). All rights reserved. Materials from this publication have been reproduced with the permission of PMI. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited.

Most good project managers know how to perform feasibility studies and cost-benefit analyses. Sometimes these studies create organizational conflict. A major utility company begins each computer project with a feasibility study in which a cost-benefit analysis is performed. The project managers, all of whom report to a project management division, perform the study themselves without any direct functional support. The functional managers argue that the results are grossly inaccurate because the functional experts are not involved. The project managers, on the other hand, argue that they never have sufficient time or money to perform a complete analysis. Some companies resolve this by having a special group perform these studies.

Most companies would prefer to find project managers from within. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. The following remarks by Robert Fluor illustrate this point3:

On-the-job training is probably the most important aspect in the development of a project manager. This includes assignments to progressively more responsible positions in engineering and construction management and project management. It also includes rotational assignments in several engineering department disciplines, in construction, procurement, cost and scheduling, contract administration, and others. . . . We find there are great advantages to developing our project managers from within the company. There are good reasons for this:

3. J. Robert Fluor, "Development of Project Managers—Twenty Years' Study at Fluor," Keynote address to Project Management Institute Eighth International Seminar/Symposium, Chicago, Illinois, October 24, 1977.

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FIGURE 4-2. McKee project services. Source: V. E. Cole, W. B. Ball, and D. S. Barrie, "Managing the Project," Project Management Institute Inc., Realities in Project Management: Proceedings of the 8th Annual Seminars and Symposium, Chicago, Illinois (1977). All rights reserved. Materials from this publication have been reproduced with the permission of PMI. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited.

• They know the corporate organization, policies, procedures, and the key people. This allows them to give us quality performance quicker.

• They have an established performance record which allows us to place them at the maximum level of responsibility and authority.

• Clients prefer a proven track record within the project manager's present organization.

There are also good reasons for recruiting from outside the company. A new project manager hired from the outside would be less likely to have strong informal ties to any one line organization and thus could be impartial. Some companies further require that the individual spend an apprenticeship period of twelve to eighteen months in a line organization to find out how the company functions, to become acquainted with the people, and to understand the company's policies and procedures.

One of the most important but often least understood characteristics of good project managers is the ability to know their own strengths and weaknesses and those of their employees. Managers must understand that in order for employees to perform efficiently:

• They must know what they are supposed to do.

• They must have a clear understanding of authority and its limits.

• They must know what their relationship with other people is.

• They should know what constitutes a job well done in terms of specific results.

• They should know where and when they are falling short.

• They must be made aware of what can and should be done to correct unsatisfactory results.

• They must feel that their superior has an interest in them as individuals.

• They must feel that their superior believes in them and wants them to succeed.

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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