The Project Manager Line Manager Interface

The utilization of management controls, such as those outlined in Section 11.24, does not necessarily guarantee successful project planning. Good project planning, as well as other project functions, requires a good working relationship between the project and line managers. At this interface:13

• The project manager answers these questions:

• When will the task be done? (using the summary schedule)

• How much money is available? (using the SOW)

• The line manager answers these questions:

• How will the task be done? (i.e., technical criteria)

• Where will the task be done? (i.e., technical criteria)

13 Adapted from David I. Cleland and William R. King, Systems Analysis and Project Management (New York: McGraw-Hill), p. 237. Copyright © 1968, 1975 by McGraw-Hill. Used with permission of McGraw-Hill Book Company.


Program Manager

Provides contractual data requirements and guidance for construction of program master schedules.

Concurs with detail schedules construction by functional organizations.

Provides corrective action decisions and direction as required at any time a functional organization fails to meet program master schedule requirements or when, by analysis, performance indicated by detail schedule monitoring threatens to impact the program master schedule.

Functional Manager

The operations directorate shall construct the program master schedule. Data should include but not be limited to engineering plans, manufacturing plans, procurement plans, test plans, quality plans, and provide time spans for accomplishment of work elements defined in the work breakdown structure to the level of definition visible in the planned subdivided work description package.

Constructs detail program schedules and working schedules in consonance with program manager-approved program master schedule. Secures program manager concurrence and forwards copies to the program manager.


The operations directorate constructs the program master schedule with data received from functional organizations and direction from the program manager. Operations shall coordinate program master schedule with functional organizations and secure program manager's approval prior to release.

Program manager monitors the functional organizations detail schedules for compliance with program master schedules and reports variance items that may impact division operations to the director, program management.

Project managers may be able to tell line managers ''how" and "where," provided that the information appears in the SOW as a requirement for the project. Even then, the line manager can take exception based on his technical expertise.

Figures 11-17 and 11-18 show what can happen when project managers overstep their bounds. In Figure 11-17, the manufacturing manager built a brick wall to keep the project managers away from his personnel because the project managers were telling his line people how to do their job. In Figure 11-18, the subproject managers (for simplicity's sake, equivalent to project engineers) would have, as their career path, promotions to assistant project managers (A.P.M.s). Unfortunately, the A.P.M.s still felt that they were technically competent enough to give technical direction, and this created havoc for the engineering managers.

The simplest solution to all of these problems is for the project manager to provide the technical direction through the line managers. After all, the line managers are supposedly the true technical experts.

Figure 11-17. The brick wall.
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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