As we read the book, we could not help reacting in places with a certain feeling of vagueness, ambiguity or inconsistency.
The Introduction tells us that there are "Two related yet distinct groups [that] hold the key to business and organization success." In a related graphic these are depicted as Senior Management and Project Management. Yet later we are told that it is an organization's line management that commonly provides the skilled resources for projects. Indeed, "the sponsor acts as the bridge between three primary areas of management responsibility" and the accompanying figure shows: Senior Management, Project and Program Management, and Functional (Line) Management. Hence, there are evidently three distinct groups, not two.
Perhaps not entirely the fault of the authors, but we struggled with the distinction between project and processes also described in the Introduction: "The case can be argued that there are two different views on how we think about organizational work: processes (operations, transactions) and projects. Processes are about coordinating people who have specific work-related competencies and tend to be organized into functional departments [while] Projects by contrast, are about introducing beneficial change to an organization."
But "process" is clearly evident in project management, as the following overlapping definitions from the Wideman Glossary of Project Management Terms make clear:
Methodology: A documented process that contains procedures
... [WST]; or: A collection of methods, procedures ... [SA-CMM]
Project: A finite process with a defined start and end [PRINCE2,
Process: That which must be done to bring about a particular
result [PRINCE2, p334] (Editor's Note: isn't that a project?)
Procedure: A prescribed method for performing specific work
... [PMBOK Guide, 1987] (Editor's Note: Isn't that a methodology?)
It would be helpful if the project management industry would adopt uniform and distinctive labels representing the difference between on-going corporate operations management on the one hand and project management on the other. It would also be helpful if agreement could be reached on the different nuances and interrelationships of the four "process" labels listed above.
The book's title "The Right Projects Done Right" sends the message that there are two steps: selecting the right projects and then doing them right. However, "doing them right" first requires good effective planning followed by efficient execution, that is, the operational period of the project life span in which the product or deliverable is actually created. Yet the text talks about projects being "effectively implemented" so we are left a little unclear as to whether this refers to the whole project life span as envisaged in North America, or just the project execution phases that in the UK-PRINCE2 view is when the project actually starts.
It would have been useful if this contentious issue, the entire life spectrum of project involvement, i.e. project portfolio management, had been clarified for purposes of the book, perhaps along the following lines:
- Identification of needs and opportunities
- Selection of best combinations of projects (the portfolios)
- Planning and execution of the project (project management)
- Product launch (acceptance and use of deliverables)
- Realization [harvesting] of benefits
In the text, the authors draw a distinction, and explain the differences, between (project) portfolio management, program management and multi-project management. However, the explanations of the first two are not reflected in the definitions in the Glossary, and multi-project management is not included. Since the authors use nuances that are not familiar to many readers, it would have been helpful to have them succinctly and consistently stated in the glossary. Other terms that it would have been useful to see in the Glossary include: Balanced scorecard; Business-as-usual; Chaordic organization; Communities of practice; Dashboard; Governorship; Heartbeat reviews; Hub system; Maturity; Operations management; Work scope; Change management versus management of change; Hard versus soft projects; Kickoff meetings versus kickoff workshops; technical versus technology; and so on. All of these terms appear to have particular meanings in the text.
31. The Right Projects Done Right!, p5
32. Ibid, p31
33. Ibid, p119
34. Ibid, pp16-17
35. Ibid, p39
36. Levine, H.A., Project Portfolio Management, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2005, p21