Project Management, Tenth Edition
by Dennis Lock, 2013
General Observations: Managing People and Exercising Control
In Chapter 11, the author observes: "Now I want to examine a little more closely the roles of some of the key people in those organizations, concentrating on the project manager. A visit to issacons 1275 reveals a list of nearly 60different job titles, all directly associated with project management. That's somewhat daunting. I shall describe the role of the project manager and the more common job titles that I have encountered in my industrial experience."
After describing the series of management levels in the corporate environment, the author suggests, and project managers will be pleased to learn, that: "Although these top managers might not know one end of a project from the other, their support for the project management function is essential." And further that: "the desirable organizational status for the project manager appears to be indicated on a level at least equivalent to the company's departmental managers."
Chapters 12 to 18 deal with various aspects of project planning, but in Chapter 15 (Scheduling Resources, Part 1: Principles) we came across: "Summary: the Elements of a Practicable Schedule" that we feel is an example of the book's content that is worth repeating:
"How it should be done
Here is a checklist for a practicable schedule:
- Does the plan include all known major tasks
- Is the plan drawn in enough detail to generate work-to lists?
- Are all tasks placed in their logical chronological sequence?
- Have task interdependencies been respected?
- Is the plan easy to understand and is it visually effective?
- Is the plan flexible and easy to adapt to take account of changes to project requirements or strategy?
- Are the project milestones shown?
- Are all the duration estimates feasible and achievable?
- Are urgent and high-priority tasks clearly highlighted?
- Have key managers and supervisors participated in the plan and accepted it is as their commitment?
- Can the plan be used to check day-to-day progress?
- Has the plan been made to take account of resources?
- Have the resource needs of other projects been considered?
- Will it satisfy all the stakeholders' expectations?
A point has now been reached in the text where most of the methods necessary to meet the above conditions have been described."
If you have digested all of that, you should become a pretty good planner!
We found Chapters 20 (Introduction to Project Contracts and Purchase Orders) and 21 (Managing Procurement and the Supply Chain), particularly useful. Chapter 20 covers such things as: "Contracts; Purchase Orders; Pricing a Contract Proposal; [and] Contract Payment Structures", while Chapter 21 includes: "Roles in the purchasing Organization for a Large International Project".
The following chapters deal with various aspects of managing the execution of a project: Chapters 22 (Managing Progress); Chapter 23 (Managing Changes); Chapter 24 (Managing Project Costs); Chapter 26 (Managing Multiple Projects, Programmes and Portfolios) and Chapter 28 (Managing Project Closure). In these, we found the following topics of particular interest: "Collecting Progress Information"; "When the News is bad"; "Estimating the True Cost of a Change"; "Version Control for Modified Drawings and Specifications"; "Emergency Modifications"; "Principles of Cost Control"; "Controlling Variable Costs"; "Controlling Fixed Costs and Overhead Cost Recovery"; and "Additional Cost Control Factors"; and so on.
As we mentioned in the Introduction, Chapter 27 discusses the special case of Business Change Projects and Chapter 29 makes an impassioned plea to senior corporate managers and directors to support their project managers. As author Dennis Lock puts it:
"All projects have their risks and crises, but where there is good project management those episodes are minimized. Indeed, risk forecasting and assessment is a valuable part of the duties of many project support offices. When a project is running smoothly, its technical staff spends less of their effort in fighting fires and has more time to concentrate on delivering quality. Project management therefore facilitates completion within specification."
And as a final note to executives:
"Executive 'sponsorship and support' can be as simple as occasionally visiting project people in their workplaces, taking an interest in what they do and giving praise when a project is successful. Such praise and encouragement costs nothing. The return on this zero investment can be very valuable."
Do we have any adverse observations to put forward? In a general sense - yes, we do. However, this is not the place, since our comments apply equally to the next book in this set that is by the same author. The next book is called Naked Project Management and covers the same territory but in a highly minimalistic way. Therefore, for our comments, see "Quibbles" at the end of the next review.
15. At least we are pleased to see that the author has obviously done his research homework!
16. Ibid, p163
17. Ibid, p164
18. Ibid, p265
19. Ibid, p260
20. Ibid, p528
21. Ibid, p534