Role of the Executive in Planning

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Many project managers view the first critical step in planning as obtaining the support of top management because once it becomes obvious to the functional managers that top management is expressing an interest in the project, they (the functional managers) are more likely to respond favorably to the project team's request for support, partly to protect themselves.

Executives are also responsible for selecting the project manager, and the person chosen should have planning expertise. Not all technical specialists are good planners. As Rogers points out:9

The technical planners, whether they are engineers or systems analysts, must be experts at designing the system, but seldom do they recognize the need to "put

9 Lloyd A. Rogers, "Guidelines for Project Management Teams," Industrial Engineering, December 12, 1974. Published and copyright 1974 by the Institute of Industrial Engineers, 25 Technology Park, Norcross, GA 30092.

CRITERIA

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CRITERION WEIGHTS

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TOTAL WErCHTEO SCORE - I (CflfTERION SCORE X CRITERION WEÍGHTJ "SCALEr 10 = EXCELLENT: 1 = UNACCEPTABLE

TOTAL WErCHTEO SCORE - I (CflfTERION SCORE X CRITERION WEÍGHTJ "SCALEr 10 = EXCELLENT: 1 = UNACCEPTABLE

Figure 11-8. Illustration of a scoring model. Source: William Souder, Project Selection and Economic Appraisal, p. 69.

on another hat" when system design specifications are completed and design the project control or implementation plan. If this is not done, setting a project completion target date of a set of management checkpoint milestones is done by guesswork at best. Management will set the checkpoint milestones, and the technical planners will hope they can meet the schedule.

Executives must not arbitrarily set unrealistic milestones and then "force" line managers to fulfill them. Both project and line managers should try to adhere to unrealistic milestones, but if a line manager says he cannot, executives should

TABLE 11-4. FEASIBILITY STUDY AND BENEFIT-COST ANALYSIS

Feasibility Study

Benefit-Cost Analysis

Basic Question

Life Cycle Phase P.M. Selected

Preconceptual Usually not yet

Should we do it?

Conceptual

Usually identified but partial involvement

Analysis

Critical Factors for Go/No-Go

Qualitative

• Ease of performance

• Economical

Quantitative • Net present value

• Discounted cash flow

• Internal rate of return

• Return on investment

• Probability of success

• Reality of assumptions and constraints

Executive Decision Criteria

Strategic fit

Benefits exceed costs by required margin comply because the line manager is supposedly the expert. Sometimes, executives lose sight of what they are doing. As an example, a bank executive took the six-month completion date milestone and made it three months. The project and line managers rescheduled all of the other projects to reach this milestone. The executive then did the same thing on three other projects, and again the project and line managers came to his rescue. The executive began to believe that the line people did not know how to estimate and that they probably loaded up every schedule with "fat." So, the executive changed the milestones on all of the other projects to what his "gut feeling" told him was realistic. The reader can imagine the chaos that followed.

Executives should interface with project and line personnel during the planning stage in order to define the requirements and establish reasonable deadlines. Executives must realize that creating an unreasonable deadline may require the reestablishment of priorities, and, of course, changing priorities can push milestones backward instead of forward.

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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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