What We Liked
This book opens with a Preface that states in its opening paragraph:
"When project management first began [when was that, by the way?] the only industries that readily embraced project management as a way of doing business were aerospace, defense, and heavy construction. These industries were identified as project-drive industries, where each project had a profit target. The prime objective of project management was to generate profits, and the project managers had the responsibility for profit and loss. The survival of the company rested in the hands of the project managers."
This introduction clearly refers to those private sector companies providing new product or facility delivery services under contract, or those companies necessarily involved in letting contracts for those services. Thus, these contracts provide the basis of reference for the work that follows, and the signing of such contracts are thought of as the "start" of the project. And indeed, in this case, they are.
Although just an introduction, this perspective sets the framework for the rest of the book. Later on, the Preface observes:
"As project management matured and the projects became more sophisticated, it became extremely difficult for project managers to maintain their technical expertise and continue to possess a command of technology. Many were no longer considered to be technical experts. Most project managers today have an understanding of technology rather than a command of technology. The technical expertise resides in the functional areas. As a result, the accountability for the success of the project is now viewed by many executives and project sponsors as shared equally between the project manager and all participating line or functional managers."
This is a very important statement for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, the authors draw a distinction between "technical expertise", which refers to the "art and science" of project management, and "technology", the applied science necessary to produce the product of the project. That is to say, the special expertise embedded in the particular type of project, or what we call the "Area of Management Application". The second point that should be recognized by both parties is that project managers must have sufficient understanding of the technology involved, in order to "understand" the work on the project, but not a "command" of the technology. Indeed, it is often better for project relations that they do not! (Executive management please take note!)
Chapter 1, one of the longer chapters, deals quite extensively with the typical issues confronting the relationship between functional managers and project managers. For example, the difficulties in non-project driven firms include, in part:
- Projects may be few and far between
- Not all [of these] projects have the same project requirements
- An enterprise project management methodology does not exist
- Executives do not have sufficient time to manage projects themselves, yet refuse to delegate authority
- Projects tend to be delayed because approvals most often follow the vertical chain of command
- Only a portion of the organization understands project management
- There is a heavy dependency on the use of subcontractors and outside agencies for project management expertise.
Chapter 4, also a long chapter, sets out to provide the information to resolve these issues by first describing the role of the project manager as one of the major players. It is introduced with the idea of the three-legged stool shown in Figure 2, the three legs of which represent the project manager, the functional manager and senior management.
Figure 2: The Three-legged Stool
The figure is explained as follows:
"To ensure a solid, balanced approach and that project management functions as planned and achieves the expected benefits, all three legs of the stool must understand project management and how it should function. If only two of the legs understand project management, it is impossible for the stool to stand."
Thus, the three-legged stool is a very interesting analogy.
Chapters 5 and 6, cover the other two roles with Chapter 6 being the largest chapter by far. And so it should be because it directly addresses the title of the book. It ends rather nicely with the observation:
"Functional managers have the power to drive a project to success or point the project in the direction of failure. The working relationship between the project and functional managers is important. Today, the authority and responsibility for project success is shared between the project and functional managers, rather than a single-person total accountability in the hands of the project manager."
11. Kerzner, H., Ph.D., & F. P. Saladis, PMP, What Functional Managers Need to Know About Project Management, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., NJ, 2009, p vii
12. To be consistent the word "technical" here should be read to mean "technology", an unfortunate but pervasive confusion in the use of terminology and want of consistent definitions. Regrettably, this confusion tends to reoccur through the remaining text.
13. Ibid, p viii
14. Ibid, p25
15. Ibid, p79
16. The authors might have added: "Depending on the vested interest of the functional manager concerned"!
17. Ibid, 239