Organizational Influences in Project Management
By Ryan Donahue, Northwest University
When managing a project, it’s important to look for, pay attention to and, ultimately, comprehend the influences of the organization you’re working for. There are several areas in which the structure of an organization can influence a project.
- How is your organization structured? Some organizations are mainly focused on ongoing operations. These organizations, such as manufacturing businesses and retail businesses, depend on the day to day operation of their businesses to create a steady stream of revenue. Do these businesses not use projects to create and improve processes? Of course they do, but that most likely won’t be at the forefront of anyone’s mind. Other types of businesses, like software developers, rely solely on the project to generate revenue. What impact can these different structures have on a project and project manager? Authority. A project manager is more likely to be given a lot of authority to manage and complete a project if the business they’re working for is project driven. On the other hand, those businesses that are relying on ongoing operations to generate revenue will have other priorities and a project manager would therefore find it more difficult to get the support and decision-making ability they need.
How does communication occur within your organization? More often than not, a company will communicate in a vertical fashion (Executives to managers, managers to supervisors, supervisors to subordinates or vice versa) with inter-departmental communication occurring between certain points on the organizational chart and, usually, at higher levels. A project, however, may require direct communication between subordinates of different departments. Also of importance, by what methods does a business communicate? As the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s becoming more and more common for a company to rely on digital methods of communication, such as email, web conferences and conference calls, to communicate. As a project manager who may require team members to meet in person, this will be important to realize early on to manage the expectations of the team members.
How important is your project? In an organization concerned with ongoing operations, it’s quite common for project team members to be appropriated for other business, possibly other projects. It’s also quite common for there to be a limited amount of resources and a large pool of projects competing for those resources. The importance an organization attributes your project will make all the difference in seeing it through to completion.
Northwest University opened to students on October 1, 1934. It is a regionally accredited institution awarding associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degrees.
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