The Functional Team

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The project team consists of the project manager, the project office (whose members may or may not report directly to the project manager), and the functional or interface members (who must report horizontally as well as vertically for information flow). Functional team members are often shown on organizational charts as project office team members. This is normally done to satisfy customer requirements.

Upper-level management can have an input into the selection process for functional team members just as with project office membership. However, executives should not take an active role unless the project and functional managers cannot come to an agreement. If executives continually step in and tell line managers how to staff a project, then the line managers will feel that the executives are usurping the line managers' authority, and, of course, the project will suffer. Functional management must be represented at all staffing meetings. Functional staffing is directly dependent on project requirements and, therefore, must include functional management because:

• Functional managers generally have more expertise and can identify high-risk areas.

• Functional managers must develop a positive attitude toward project success. This is best achieved by inviting their participation in the early activities of the planning phase.

Functional team members are not always full-time. They can be full-time or part-time for either the duration of the project or only specific phases.

The selection process for both the functional team member and the project office must include evaluation of any special requirements. The most common special requirements develop from:

• Changes in technical specifications

• Special customer requests

• Organizational restructuring because of deviations from existing policies

• Compatibility with the customer's project office

Each of these factors has a direct impact on whether an individual should be assigned to the project office or the functional interface.

A typical project office may include between ten and thirty members, whereas the total project team may be in excess of a hundred people. Large staffs inherently create additional work and increase communication channel noise to such a degree that information reporting may become a slow process. Large staffs also create difficult problems with regard to customer relations.

For large projects, it is desirable to have a full-time functional representative from each major division or department assigned permanently to the project, and perhaps even to the project office. Such representation might include:

• Program management

• Project engineering

• Engineering operations

• Manufacturing operations

• Procurement

• Quality control

• Cost accounting

• Publications

Both the project manager and team members must understand fully the responsibilities and functions of each other team member so that total integration can be achieved as rapidly and effectively as possible. On high-technology programs the chief project engineer assumes the role of deputy project manager. Project managers must understand the problems that the line managers have when selecting and assigning the project staff. Line managers try to staff with people who understand the need for teamwork. Unfortunately, these people may simply be the average or below-average employees because the senior people may consider themselves to be gods and may not have any respect for other disciplines. As an example, a department manager hired a fifty-four-year-old engineer who had two master's degrees in engineering disciplines. For the past thirty years, the new employee was a true loner, never having worked in a project management organization. How should the department manager handle this situation?

First, the department manager gave the individual an overload of work so that he would ask for help. Instead, the individual worked overtime and did a good job. Next, the manager put the individual in charge of a line project and assigned two people to report to him. These two people were idle most of the time because the individual was still doing all the work himself (and quite well). The department manager did not want to lose this employee. Today, the employee is assigned only those tasks that he can do himself.

When employees are attached to a project, the project manager must identify the "star" employees. These are the employees who are vital for the success of the project and who can either make or break the project manager. Most of the time, star employees are found in the line organization, not the project office.

As a final point, we should discuss the responsibilities that the project manager can assign to an employee. Project managers can assign line employees added responsibilities within the scope of the project. If the added responsibilities can result in upgrading, then the project manager should consult with the line manager before such situations are initiated. Quite often, line managers (or even personnel representatives) send "check" people into the projects to verify that employees are performing at their proper pay grade. This is very important when working with blue-collar workers who, by union contractual agreements, must be paid at the grade level at which they are performing.

Also, project managers must be willing to surrender resources when they are no longer required. If the project manager constantly cries wolf in a situation where a problem really does not exist or is not as severe as the project manager makes it out to be, the line manager will simply pull away the resources (this is the line manager's right), and a deteriorating working relationship will result.

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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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