Interface Management

The most difficult aspect of implementing the project plan is the coordination of the various elements of the project so that they meet their joint goals of performance, schedule, and budget. The PM must control the process and timing of this coordina-- tion as a part of the everyday task of managing the project. The term interface is used to denote both the process and fact of this coordination. The linear responsibility . chart discussed above is clearly a useful aid to the PM in performing this managerial task because it displays the multiple ways the project's people must interact and what the rights, duties, and responsibilities of each will be.

A more formal and detailed approach to this problem has been developed |6| by Benningson. This analytic approach is called TREND (Transformed Relationships Evolved from Network Data) and was designed to illustrate important relationships between work groups, to alert the project manager to potential problems associated with interfaces, and to aid in the design of effective ways to avoid or deal with the potential interface problems.

Three key concepts are added in Benningson's approach: interdependence, uncertainty, and prestige. The project master schedule, the WBS, and task networks can be used to provide some of the information required to delineate the nature of these concepts, to understand their potential impacts on the interface between individuals and groups, and to denote task and group interdependencies. Figure 5-10 is an organizational chart that has been modified according to TREND procedures.

Interdependencies are shown by lines, with the primary direction of the interdependence indicated by the arrows.

The uncertainty facing each task group or individual and the relative prestige levels of each of the task groups/individuals need to be established. Uncertainty levels are assumed to correlate with such factors as the length of the project time horizon, the level of reliance on formal authority, and the degree of task orientation of the work. If estimates are available, the spread between the optimistic and pessimistic time estimates reflects the level of uncertainty of the schedule. See the shaded boxes in Figure 5-10.

Prestige is inferred from organization charts or from known anecdotal information. See the right-hand scale in Figure 5-10. Although using position on the organization chart as a surrogate for organizational prestige is questionable, no better overall measure seems to be available. The analyst would be well advised to check this assumption for each particular case when employing this model. All three elements—prestige, uncertainty, and interdependence—can be depicted on an organization chart to illustrate potential coordination problems.

Dependence is shown by an arrow from the preceding task group/person to the following, dependent task group/person. Uncertainty is denoted by shading those groups/persons with high task uncertainty and not shading those with low uncertainty. Prestige is read directly off the chart by noting the level of the group/person in the organizational structure. See |6) for a detailed example.



Figure 5-10: TREND organizational overlay.

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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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