7 March 2016
Management by Projects – not just consolidated projects

Most mature organisations have defined processes that they follow in order to function effectively.

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But under what methodology do these processes fall? How many organisations have taken the time to stand back and consider if these processes fall under a particular business management methodology?

Work that organisations perform can be categorised into two types: operations and projects.

They are the same in that they are both:-
• Performed by people
• Constrained by limited resources
• Planned, executed and controlled

They are different in that:-
• Operations are ongoing
• Projects are temporary and unique

The Management by Projects methodology allows organisations to manage both types of work as projects.

Management by projects recognises that projects cannot be considered in isolation from other work. All work needs to be considered in aggregate so that the right projects are being worked on by the right people at the right time.

This may involve operational activities as well as project type activities. Is an ongoing support service less important than a particular development project? Organisations should be able to view resource plans and actual time spent across all activities and not just projects where a project plan has been defined.

The Project Management Institute recognises this approach as follows:-

“The term project management is sometimes used to describe an organisational approach to the management of ongoing operations. This approach, more properly called management by projects, treats many aspects of ongoing operations as projects in order to apply project management to them.”

An Approach to Business

Management by projects is therefore a methodology for conducting business. It is not more of the same project management.

Rudolph Boznak (PM Network, January 1996) puts it succinctly:

“Project management versus Management by Projects is not merely a twist on words … there is a significant difference in concepts, scopes and capabilities. Success in a Management by Projects environment requires a far different approach than merely applying more of the same project management systems and methods.”

The table below summarises this:

Project Management is:
Management by Projects is:
The direction and management of a project The integration, prioritization, communication and continuous control of multiple projects
A discipline An operating environment
Project-wide Enterprise-wide
A tactical issue A strategic issue

Program Management

Management by Projects is sometimes incorrectly referred to as Program Management. This is where large Projects are broken down into smaller more manageable projects which then consolidate into a single Program. In this case there is usually a single Program Manager and multiple Project Managers.

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This is not broad enough to classify as Management by Projects. Based on the above definition organisations would need to have a single Program for the entire organisation if Program Management was to qualify as Management by Projects. This is because Management by Projects is organisation wide.

Program Management usually results in Project Plans being rolled up into a single consolidated project, the Program. It would not be advisable to roll up all projects for an entire organisation nor would it make sense to do so.

Organisations should however be able to review a range of projects, perhaps all projects for a particular business unit or customer. This would allow us to manage priorities, resources, etc for the selected projects.

Also organisations should be able to review resource schedules across all projects. Organisations need to be able to manage the effective use of those resources and so expect to be able to see all projects that resources are working on.

Drivers

Project Management is “goal focussed”. It is concerned with meeting the project goals and expectations. Management by Projects is more concerned with “operational effectiveness”. What is the best that organisations can achieve given all of the demands being made of our available resources?

Management by projects therefore provides the means by which organisations can balance the conflicting goals of project management and resource management.

Project management is generally implemented in a “snapshot” like manner. It is only as good as the last updated plan. Management by Projects however is dynamic providing real time information on activities and events.

In the next posting we will discuss: “Why? – the benefits of Management by Projects methodology”