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Keep It Simple, Please!
By Ron Rosenhead

Yes, too often Project Management structures are complex and do not support the Project Manager in their delivery. Look at the diagram below.

Linear Structure

This shows a simple linear structure with the project board at the top and the project team at the bottom of the tree. At first site this look fine until you realise there are 15 members on the Project Board! Before anyone tells me this is impossible I have to say we frequently find this number on Boards This is far too many and people say to us that the large numbers are stopping a key activity of the board i.e. making decisions.

Project Boards should be around 5 people. So who are these other 10? We have investigated this with a number of Project Managers and discovered:

  • They are stakeholders who represent key groups either in the business or are in partner organisations.
  • They are people who want to be involved but actually are hindering project progress – in actual fact they have no interest and will not be impacted by the project. Our questions here to Project Managers is why are these people involved?

Can the person who represents the function or group make decisions? Our researches (questioning of people who talk about this) suggest not! What they tell us that the person says something like:

  • I will need to go back and check with my Director we can do this. Or maybe…
  • I am unsure how we can deal with this. Let me get back to you once we have consulted in our organisation.

In both cases, this does not help in the management of the project. These people are actually stopping project progress by having to go back to the various bodies they come from; say the internal finance or marketing department or the partner organisation providing say a design service.

So, what should be done! Have a simpler Project Management structure. Something that takes out from the project board people who are clearly stakeholders. When working with project teams we have identified around 4 or 5 stakeholder groups and suggested these people liaise directly with the Project Manager.

The results? Much quicker decision making by the project board which is based on input from the key stakeholders. Plus, continuity. Project Managers reported a huge issue with project boards never having the same 15 people – “I cannot go to this meeting so I want you to go” was quoted several times.

So, keep it simple, please!

About Ron Rosenhead (In his own words)

I first became involved in Project Management quite accidentally! While working in a large organisation which was going through huge change I realised that these changes would only be successful if people delivered projects effectively. But, no one had received any training in this area!

I ran a series of workshops and saw that this was an important area – working to help organisations deliver projects on time and to budget.

I have personally trained many thousands of people to deliver projects effectively. In addition, I have spoken at conferences, coached individuals and worked with project teams. After encouragement from a couple of grateful workshop participants I wrote Deliver That Project – a practical guide to delivering projects.

Alongside this my big project is to make my company Project Agency even more successful. We work with a wide range of clients providing them with Project Management training alongside developing in-house Project Management systems to ensure a uniform approach to project delivery.

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