The Importance of Positioning

Consider what would happen if a company did not have the typical business functional departments—engineering, finance, pur chasing, etc.—established at the corporate level. Without these enterprise-wide business functions, the managers within each business unit would have to decide how engineering, finance, purchasing, etc., would be done in their areas of responsibility without considering the need to manage shared resources and communicate important information with other departments. Because the business functions critical to managing the company as a whole would differ from department to department, there would be few, if any, common processes. Work would be completed in an ad hoc environment, and chaos would be the rule of the day. Fortunately, most organizations understand the importance of establishing ownership and leadership of key business functions at the corporate level, and common processes and practices across the organization are the norm rather than the exception.

Positioning is equated with authority in organization structures; the closer something is to the top, the higher its level of autonomy, authority, and responsibility. Establishing project management in most organizations is very difficult to do, because managers are afraid of losing their authority and control over the resources that are assigned to them. Workers are afraid of being held accountable for performing a new set of requirements. This fear, expressed as resistance, comes from lack of information and understanding about how the changes will affect their jobs. Positioning the project management function at the highest level within the organization provides the measure of autonomy necessary to extend its authority across the organization while substantiating the value and importance the function has in the eyes of executive management.

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