Random Acts of IT Project Management

Project Management for Information Technology

Posts Tagged ‘projects’

Real life project management: Projects, programs and operations of a house

Posted by iammarchhare on 4 August 2009

I have published a new article on Associated Content titled “Real Life Project Management: Projects, Programs and Operations of a House”.  Here is an excerpt:

Project Management Lessons from “Real Life”

Projects, programs and operations are all necessary parts of a business. How do you tell them apart? Let’s relate this to an item most of us can readily identify with: owning and maintaining your home.

Owning your own home is a rewarding experience. However, it is also a lot of work. All things need maintenance. The larger and more complex the system, the more it will need maintenance. A house is one of the largest and most complex item most of us will ever own. Not only is a house a system, but it is a superset of many other subsystems: plumbing, electrical, heating, etc.

Is maintenance part of ongoing operations, then? Is maintenance a project item? Or is maintenance a program? I want to show you that the correct answer is, “Yes.”

You can read the rest here.

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Different Management Roles on a Project

Posted by iammarchhare on 1 June 2009

TechRepublic did an article under IT Leadership called “Keep the three management roles in an IT project separate” written by Rick Freedman.  Freedman argues that there are 3 roles in every engagement: project manager, technical manager and relationship manager.  Personally, I would have divided this into 2 roles, and some of the comments reflect that as well.

However, in the thread comments, jayl posted a division consisting of project manager, technical manager and business manager/analyst, which is even better, IMO.  I agree with his/her assessment that all 3 need to maintain the relationship.  Furthermore, it points out that at least 2 people need to be filling some combination of these roles.  This is similar to my recent posting that sometimes a PM is also playing a BA.

This is similar to what I posted before that, while a technical project manager can be a legitimate role, but that companies often don’t understand what they are really looking for when they look for a “project manager”.  If you want someone senior that will also code, then you will be left with no one running the project.

Essentially, I see:

1. Relationship manager – product manager, marketing or IT director on internal projects.

2. Project manager – in charge of the project and processes that get it done.

3. Technical manager or technical lead – manages the nitty-gritty low-level technical details.

4. Resource manager – manages personnel, vacations, allocations, performance reviews, etc.

These will likely be combined at some level, especially in smaller shops.

If you have a product manager, then some of the customer relationship management is taken off the others.  However, it is best to be mindful that all this means is that the primary responsibility for the relationship management is shifted, but that does not mean the customer relationship is everyone’s business.

The project manager does what she/he needs to get the project done and within sane parameters of scope, budget and duration.  The project manager is also responsible for putting in place the proper items to ensure quality.

The technical manager/lead makes technical recommendations for direction of project.  This may be an architect, senior developer or senior SME.

The often overlooked role, is the resource manager.  That may or may not be a supervisor or a technical manager.  I distinguish the resource/personnel manager as separate, as often there is a functional manager that people report to in a matrixed environment.  If the organization is projectized, then the functional and project manager role are usually filled by one person.

This still doesn’t eliminate a technical manager, though, and I would balk at combining technical lead, resource manager and project manager on the same project, unless that is the only project going.  Even then, it is going to keep someone really busy and one role is going to distract from the others at various points in the project.  It is still best to separate the roles as much as possible if you want your projects to succeed.

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Why Being a Project Manager is Different

Posted by iammarchhare on 5 May 2009

Are you on fire or is your hair on fire?

OK, I’ve spent a lot of time in previous posts showing how project management is primarily about management, that soft skills count the most and how being a PM is much more than doing earned value calculations every week.  How then is a PM different than any other manager?

Managers and supervisors have their roles.  They manage people.  The primary objective of a project manager is to get a project completed.  These are complimentary roles.  You cannot get a project done without the people, and without successful projects the people are likely to get let go in today’s economy.  The roles are similar, but they have a different focus.

I’m still amazed at just how many organizations still don’t understand the role of a project manager.  A project manager:

  1. Stays calm in the storm.  When everyone else panics and runs around with their hair on fire, the PM will execute the contingency plan.

  2. Cuts through the noise.  When people try to make it hard and complicated, then the PM’s job is to break things down and simplify them.  This is true when building a WBS, it is true when gathering customer requirements, and it is true when troubleshooting an issues.

  3. Plans for things to go wrong.  Unexpected events always occur.  What is the plan when, not if, things go wrong?

  4. Knows when others are not living up to their end of the bargain.  You may not have direct control over the people, but you at least can identify when things are not getting done.

  5. Knows the experts to turn to when things go wrong.  These people may or may not be on your project team.

  6. Knows how to recognize people when things go right.  It would be a shame if good team members get reviewed by their direct manager/supervisor and that manager/supervisor doesn’t know of all the good things the team member has accomplished.

  7. Motivates people to do better and to improve.

  8. Always does a lessons learned and always looks for ways to improve.

A good project manager is on fire for getting out a quality result and making improvements to how things get done.  A good project manager is not one who runs around with their hair on fire just because that’s the way it’s always been done.

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