Published here August 2012

Introduction to the Books | About the Authors and Their Books
Book 1 - What Executives Need to Know about Project Management
Book 2 - What Functional Managers Need to Know about Project Management
Book 3 - Value-Driven Project Management
Book 4 - Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked in "Framework" / in "Integration"
Downside in "Communications" | Summary

Downside - in "Communications"

At first we were overjoyed to see a large chapter dedicated to "Communications" management. That's because we think that Chapter 10 of the PMBoK guide sadly under-represents the subject. It is true that the entire Chapter 10 of the PMBoK guide is about "stakeholders", who they are, how they should be "managed" and the project reports that should be shared with them. However, in our view this subject should cover much more than that.

For example, on a large project it is necessary to understand the main contractual arrangements between the parties and the resulting organizational structure. For the project manager, that means dealing with the various levels in the organization. In addition to a variety of project sponsors, there will likely be one or more project directors, project management office directors and so on.

Bear in mind that the Project Management Institute's original documentation of Communications Management in their Project Management Body of Knowledge[26] also covered the management of information, as well as communications. In the original breakdown of the subject we see such topics as: "Project direction"; "Meetings" (management); "Project Management Information systems"; "Marketing and selling"; "Public relations"; and "Records management". It seems to us that not only are all of these essential tools of project communications, but they are also particularly important and difficult when it comes to large projects.

Interestingly, we don't believe that the term "stakeholders" is even mentioned in the original 1987 PMBoK publication. It first appeared in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge published in 1996. And while stakeholders, their identification and analysis of influence are obviously the key to effective communications with them, it is evident that the original intent of this section has morphed into a different, and narrower, line of thinking.

Meanwhile, the authors own chapter[27] slavishly follows the current pattern, albeit in the larger context of "complex" projects. It contains over forty illustrations with associated texts ranging from Stakeholder Management - Macro Level[28] to Micro Level,[29] from Key Stakeholders[30] to Unimportant Stakeholders,[31] from Making Bad Assumptions[32] to, well, Another Bad Assumption.[33] Along the way, the chapter also touches on the issues of using Virtual Teams,[34] Measuring KPIs,[35] and the inappropriateness of Linear Thinking[36] in EPM[37] methodologies, instead favoring outside-the-box thinking.[38]

Speaking of linear thinking, one thing we noticed in reading this chapter, the sequence of topics does not seem to follow any sort of logical or progressive pattern. It is as if the whole is composed of a large number of overhead transparencies, together with their explanatory notes. But, having been inadvertently scattered on the floor, and being unnumbered, have been picked up at random and typed in accordingly. In our view, that makes the chapter less useful as a source of reference, than it could be.

What We Liked - in   What We Liked - in "Integration"

26. Project Management Body of Knowledge published by the Project Management Institute, 1987
27. Managing Complex Projects, Chapter 10
28. Ibid, p318
29. Ibid, 322
30. Ibid, p342
31. Ibid, p344
32. Ibid, p304
33. Ibid, p306
34. Ibid, p356
35. Key Performance Indicators, ibid, p358
36. Ibid, p372
37. Enterprise Project Management, the application of project management throughout an organization, Comparative Glossary, [D02705]
38. Managing Complex Projects, p373
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