The Project Manager As The Planning Agent

The major responsibility of the project manager is planning. If project planning is performed correctly, then it is conceivable that the project manager will work himself out of a job because the project can run itself. This rarely happens, however. Few projects are ever completed without some conflict or trade-offs for the project manager to resolve.

In most cases, the project manager provides overall or summary definitions of the work to be accomplished, but the line managers (the true experts) do the detailed planning. Although project managers cannot control or assign line resources, they must make sure that the resources are adequate and scheduled to satisfy the needs of the project, not vice versa. As the architect of the project plan, the project manager must provide:

• Complete task definitions

• Resource requirement definitions (possibly skill levels)

• Major timetable milestones

• Definition of end-item quality and reliability requirements

• The basis for performance measurement

These factors, if properly established, result in:

• Assurance that functional units will understand their total responsibilities toward achieving project needs.

• Assurance that problems resulting from scheduling and allocation of critical resources are known beforehand.

• Early identification of problems that may jeopardize successful project completion so that effective corrective action and replanning can be taken to prevent or resolve the problems.

Project managers are responsible for project administration and, therefore, must have the right to establish their own policies, procedures, rules, guidelines, and directives— provided these policies, guidelines, and so on, conform to overall company policy. Companies with mature project management structures usually have rather loose company guidelines, so project managers have some degree of flexibility in how to control their projects. However, project managers cannot make any promises to a functional employee concerning:

Promotion

Grade

Salary

Bonus

Overtime

Responsibility

Future work assignments

These seven items can be administered by line managers only, but the project manager can have indirect involvement by telling the line manager how well an employee is doing (and putting it in writing), requesting overtime because the project budget will permit it, and offering individuals the opportunity to perform work above their current pay grade. However, such work above pay grade can cause severe managerial headaches if not coordinated with the line manager, because the individual will expect immediate rewards if he performs well.

Establishing project administrative requirements is part of project planning. Executives must either work with the project managers at project initiation or act as resources later. Improper project administrative planning can create a situation that requires:

• A continuous revision and/or establishment of company and/or project policies, procedures, and directives

• A continuous shifting in organizational responsibility and possible unnecessary restructuring

• A need for staff to acquire new knowledge and skills

If these situations occur simultaneously on several projects, there can be confusion throughout the organization.

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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