Sources: Crawford, US Govt., Partington et al.
Crawford notes that different levels of people perceive competency in different ways. She explains that senior managers often resist involvement by project managers in practices concerning strategy, definition, integration, and communication. Senior managers consider these practices as over-arching while the focus of the project manager is (or perhaps should be) on time, cost, scope, and procurement.
This confirms the difference noted in Figure 1, i.e. a more singular, narrow focus at the project manager level. The nature of the specific project is another concern, as reported by Einsiedel in her study (as reported by Crawford). That is, project management effectiveness "depends on a wide variety of factors, some of which have little or nothing to do with the managers' personal ability or motivation."
The U.S. Government Accountability Office conducted a survey based on the U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD) long-established program management function. This was to determine whether the DoD's program management performance was mature enough to be able to deliver the intended benefits from the funds allocated to it. The GAO study compared program management practices from large corporations to those of the DoD. It noted there were nine environmental factors that the companies in the survey found were essential to program management success:
- Use investment strategies
- Use evolutionary development
- Match requirements to resources
- Match the right people to the program
- Use knowledge-driven development decisions
- Empower program managers
- Demand accountability
- Require tenure
- Continue senior leadership support
It is interesting to note the emphasis in this study on matching the right people to the program. This observation, among other factors, led to our development of this competency model for program managers.
Partington et al. explain that an interpretive approach is required. This is something that we have tried to create. They describe traditional approaches to competence as work oriented and worker oriented. Work oriented goes back to that of Taylor and focuses on the work involved, rather than the actual person who is responsible for the work. In fact, this description is the focus of PMI and also the U.K.'s Association for Project Management, in which lists of relevant topics, activities, performance indicators, and knowledge are used to help guide project management work. This approach, however, does not focus on the attributes needed of the person responsible for doing the work.
The worker-related studies, on the other hand, address this gap by focusing on the person involved to generalize the knowledge, skills, and attributes that one requires. Partington et al. (2005) caution that such an approach may result in findings that are too generic and abstract, and therefore not relevant to specific organizations. Accordingly, they present an alternative interpretive approach focusing on what the manager conceives of the work and how the workers conceive it. They studied five large U.K. firms from different sectors and conducted interviews with those responsible for program management.
They also shadowed these individuals to see the actual work they did over a two-day period. Other interviews were conducted with the program manager's sponsors, clients, and peers. Their model concluded that program management was a concept that was "difficult to pin down". This conclusion was based on differences between programs in the different sectors of the study.
2. Crawford, L. Senior management perceptions of project management competence. International Journal of Project Management, 2005, 27(1), pp7-16.
3. Ibid, p11
4. GAO 2005
5. Partinton, D., Pellegrinelli, S., & Young, M. Attributes of programme management competence: An interpretive study, International Journal of Project Management, 2005, 23(2), pp87-96.
6. Project Management Institute. A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), fourth edition, Newtown Square, PA, 2008.
7. Association for Project Management, UK, 2006
8. Partington, et al., Attributes of programme management competence: An interpretive study, International Journal of Project Management, 2005, 23(2), pp87-96.
9. Ibid, p94