Major corporations place great emphasis on continual training of their leadership resources in the principles of project management. Large successful corporations recognize that complex business processes require not just time management and basic business skills, but a broad skill set that includes a balance of priority setting, resource identification, and schedule discipline. A successful project manager is able to set priorities, identify and assign the right resources to the job, and develop a disciplined schedule to drive forward and measure progress.
There is no whiz-bang secret to achieving excellence in Project management ... no recipe for guaranteed success. Instead, Project management involves the application of a number of very basic principles. Excellence in project management can be defined as applying those principles more knowledgeably, more regularly and more thoroughly than, the competition.
Project Management implementation plan
'The first thing that must be done is to carefully plan the implementation process. It makes little difference whether this planning is done by top management, staff personnel, middle management or a consultant: a game plan for implementing project management is necessary' (Carter, et al. 1996).
'Effective transitional management which entails prior planning, employee involvement and conflict resolution is needed when converting to a new project organisational structure' (Carter, et al. 1996).
The second step is for top management to demonstrate its unequivocal support for a transition to the project management way of goal achievement (Easton & Day, 1991; Kruger et al., 1995: 58). This needs to be communicated to the entire organisation by way of a clear and unambiguous declaration of intent (Graham, 1994: 706). The implementation of a new order of things is fraught with anxiety. Kruger et al. (1995: 63) has found the commitment, co-operation and participation of all key project participants to be a major success factor. And to obviate the anxiety, insecurity, uncertainty and unrealistic expectations, as well as to substantiate the commitment of the participants, the role of top management's public support and beliefs is beyond question (Graham, 1994: 706).
Project management by definition cuts across functional lines. Therefore the next step in the implementation plan is to establish a multi-functional project management steering committee. The function of this steering committee is the management and control of the design and implementation of the strategy as a project per se and therefore to push for change, but not of a rate that in itself will build opposition (Day, et al. 1993).
The fourth step should be to determine the work breakdown structure (WBS) of this 'project'. As is always the case with drawing up a WBS, this is no mean or single-handed task, but requires a concerted, top-level team approach (Day, et al. 1993).
Fifthly, the time scales need to be established so as to give the process a goal and meaning.
In the sixth step, the cost of the implementation process (for some organisations even a conversion or transformation process) needs to be determined and managed.
In the last instance, as with any regular project, continuous evaluation which is the main task of the steering committee is most important. After the decision to projectors, the implementation thereof is not an obvious process. Especially in large organisations with different divisional cultures, the trust, experience, speed and acceptance of project may differ markedly. It is also an experimental and evolutionary process, with organisations contemplating bigger and more complex projects in line with corporate growth. Exchange of experience and progress is an important source of information for the committee (Novack, 1995).
Experience has shown that this transformation up to full acceptance of the 'new' culture, smooth operation and a perceivable increase in effective project target achievement, can take from three to five years.
Purpose of Project management plan content
Project management plan represents a completely different organisational and managerial culture from that of functional organisations:
Firstly a 'network' linking the various necessary inputs from different functions is superimposed on the conventional functional structure. The traditional functional hierarchy remains the cornerstone of the organisation and project management is added as a secondary, temporary 'overlay' to deal with the organisational, co-ordination and integrating complexities (Novack, 1995).
Secondly, functional heads usually regard the above as a threat to their authority and 'empire', because, 'the adjustment will reduce the functional manager's ability to control subordinates' activities).
The line manager may also view the project manager as an obstacle to gain favourable exposure to top management and therefore a threat to future promotional opportunities. Perhaps the line manager considers the project manager unqualified to make decisions on specialized technical matters. Any or all of these things may impede willing co-operation by line managers. The sensitivity and importance of these new relationships cannot be overemphasized and need to be planned carefully and discussed thoroughly with managers at all levels before implementing project management (Obradovitch, & Stephanou 1990).
In many organisations the application of project management either fails dismally, or does not come off the ground effectively within reasonable time scales, nor with the type of favourable results that many textbooks claim. The main reason can be found in top management being enthusiastic, but not willing to face the implications and consequences for the organisation of introducing a project management system into their formerly bureaucratic organisations. Project management cannot simply be superimposed on an existing organisational structure without affecting its well being. To that effect the prerequisites for a successful project management implementation strategy were discussed. Based on providing for those prerequisites, an implementation plan and the framework for a strategy toward project management implementation, in the form of a WBS, has been developed. This WBS proved to be very successful as a guideline in the organisations investigated.
Carter, Bruce, Tony Hancock, Jean-Marc Morin, and Ned Robins 1996. Riskman Methodology (Introducing): The European Project Risk Management Methodology. London: The Stationary Office, 1996.
Day, George S., David J. Reibstein, and Robert E. Gunther 1993. Wharton on Dynamic Competitive Strategy. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1993.
Novack, Janet L 1995. The Iso 9000 Documentation Toolkit. Englewood CLiffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995.
Obradovitch, M. M., and S. E. Stephanou 1990. Project Management: Risks and Productivity. New York: Daniel Spencer Publishers, 1990.