This paper was originally published as The Strategy of Running Temporary Projects, Innovation, 1971. Although published over thirty years ago, we believe that its perceptive insights are just as valid today.

Thanks to Bob Youker, World Bank (Retired), for bringing this paper to our attention. The paper has since been edited for web presentation, Editor

Copyright: Lawrence Bennigson, MA, 02108. Email: lbennigson@hbs.ed.

Published here August 2004.

Introduction | Background | Managing the Project
Strategic Design of a Comprehensive Project Management System (CPMS)  
Important Areas to Consider | Standard Success Criteria
The System Can Be Evaluated Separately from the Task | End Game
Editor's Footnote  | PART 2

Strategic Design of a Comprehensive Project Management System (CPMS)

If, as you read these words, you think "That sounds obvious", let me assure you that in my experience it is nevertheless not the approach that is usually followed. All too often, projects encounter unnecessary difficulty because they don't meet strategic needs. The tactical orientation of most project managers is probably due to the very nature of one-time projects, which typically have limited objectives that must be met through a series of individual steps. It is not too surprising that a comprehensive viewpoint embodying all the surrounding factors, both temporary and permanent, is so rarely taken.

The task orientation of project management, focusing on bite-sized achievable objectives, has been a traditional strength. The problem is, this orientation increases the difficulty of designing project management systems strategically.

I find that a strategic approach to CPMS design helps ensure that important constraints, goals, and needs will not be overlooked. This approach has proven useful in predicting and explaining the performance of many projects I have investigated over the last several years and has been helpful in guiding the design of project management systems.

The important areas to consider are:

  1. Project management system decision making
  2. The general environment
  3. The parent organization environment
  4. The customer environment
  5. The task
  6. Criteria for project and CPMS success

I will consider each of these in turn.

Managing the Project  Managing the Project

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