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Traditional and Collaborative Project Management
By Mike Kremer

Project management has a long and rich history. For many years traditional project management has involved the work of individuals creating and maintaining schedules, and managing scope, resources and quality in order to get projects done. Often these people worked very much on their own, with minimal collaboration from others involved in the project — like stakeholders and resources. For a variety of reasons more and more companies are now considering changes in methodology that would require more collaboration within a project team as well as cross project teams.

Keeping in mind that a project is an investment, it is not surprising that the main reason for this change of method is driven by financial considerations. This can be articulated in various ways, e.g. better resource utilization, faster project delivery, better decision making about ongoing project funding, project quality, etc. A change of this magnitude takes time and effort and is therefore by definition a project. But the scope and costs of this process change project are often underestimated or ignored, leading to failure.

Here is a comparison of some of the process changes involved in going to a collaborative project management methodology:

Traditional Project Management

  • Project plans and schedules can be created in a variety of formats using a variety of tools
  • Key performance indicators can be defined for a single project, but are often not used or have different meanings from one project to the next
  • Resource loading and assignments are managed within a project, but not across multiple projects.
  • Cross-project relationships are not tracked or managed

Collaborative Project Management

  • Project plans and schedules are created and maintained using common templates using one centralized tool
  • KPIs are defined for all projects and programs and set a common definition for the organization
  • Resources are managed as a single pool so that it is easy to understand how resources are being utilized across all projects, as well as having the ability to forecast resources needs based on planned projects
  • Cross project relationships tracked and managed in a visible and accountable way, so that all stakeholders have common expectations and the effect of changes can be understood for the entire program

A deep understanding of collaborative project management involves not only the benefits, but also the work involved in obtaining those benefits. Companies should consider carefully the cost/benefit relationship and make a determination regarding the positional return on investment for this type of process change.

Mike Kremer, PMP is a long time Microsoft employee and has spoken to large audiences in North America, Europe and Asia on project management topics. Mike maintains a useful website with lots of information and videos on the use of Microsoft Project and Microsoft Project Server: http://www.todaysproject.com

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