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Project Based Organizations

By j.lupo ·
Hi Everyone. I have been reading a lot of stuff about project management lately. This includes organizations that are moving towards a project based approach. My concern is whether this really can work in organizations that are not IT companies or even in IT companies.

I work on projects, but it is not the core of the business. Collins (2003) wrote that technology was the accelorator of a business, but Great Businesses knew what their core business was and stuck to it-- perfected it and used technology wisely. When I think of that, I don't see how being a project based organization can improve your core business unless your business is services to other companies.

What do you think? I am trying to get a feel one way or the other about the benefits/negatives.

If you have article suggestions, please point me to them for reading. Thanks again.

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How to improve without projects

by gchavez In reply to Project Based Organizatio ...

I cant think of a company making improvements without a projected organization, even if it is not a formal one. Organizing and adopting a proper methodology will help in reducing risks and increasing probability of success in project deliverables. Any strategy derived from planning can only be achieved by a set of well organized projects.

Best regards,

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Project thinking!

by m.nahavandi In reply to How to improve without pr ...

Yes,I belive one of the most important issue in organizing project is:
Project thinking!

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I am not certain you understood my request

by j.lupo In reply to Project thinking!

This is not about project thinking or organizing a project. This is about companies moving from one philosophy in how they do business towards another model.

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That is part of my point

by j.lupo In reply to How to improve without pr ...

I do see companies making improvements, lots of them without taking a project focus as the core to how they do that business. That isn't to say that they don't have projects in the company. I worked for a company that moved to a project centered instead of business centered philosophy. While we were business centered we did great. We met deadlines, clients were happy, we made money, we had enough resources to do the work. When we switched some project did well and others fell apart. We didn't always have the right resources for all the projects.

I am a firm believer in Collins (2003) work that indicated that companies that want to be great need to maintain their core business. Technology is an accelerator, project provide difinitive timelines, but they should not control the core business, they should support it. However, that is just my opinion.

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Management FADS and other topics

by PMPsicle In reply to Project Based Organizatio ...

Like many management fads, project oriented organizations has some basis in truth with a whole bunch of looking for the golden bullet dumped in.

Most organizations consist of three seperate structures. The first is strategic, the second is operational and the third is core.

Strategic structures consist of those structures which are project oriented in nature. That is everything they do is one off. Why call them strategic? Because most strategic activities are project oriented. Even if an organization does nothing else project oriented, change (i.e. strategic implementations) are projects. However, IS is probably the most well known project focused group, closely followed by marketing and HR for those elements not strictly part of a strategic team. You'll notice, however, that those groups tend to be the most affected by and involved in strategic activities.

The second group is operational. These are not project oriented. Instead they are on going and routine. Or have become so. Examples include Accounting, janitorial, and telephones operators.

Core are those groups which are directly associated with the delivery of the product. Why seperate them like this? Because they can go either way. Some products (such as automobiles) are project oriented (each is unique and built to order). Other products are delivered using a process method - retail for example. The trick is to know which parts are project oriented and which aren't.

The point of this is that all organizations have projects. All organizations can benefit from project/portfolio management knowledge. And all organizations can benefit from a project/portfolio based approach. Regardless of how the core is most effectively structured. A basic understanding of the correct approach is mandatory (but often missing) in all levels of management because all levels will participate in projects.

The second point is that no organization needs or should be totally project focused. All organizations have groups which are focused on doing the same things the same way every day.

Finally, the smart organization is the one that knows what focus to apply where, especially in its core since that can flip to either side.

Does that help any?

Glen Ford, PMP
Can Da Software
Project Management & Process Improvement

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PMP'sicle - Yes thank you

by j.lupo In reply to Management FADS and other ...

This is the cleanest explanation that I have seen. I am also doing research pertaining to IT project outcomes and project partnering. Your views are very insightful and go against some of the literature. I am trying to not only have a wealth of literature, but to get the real world view and understanding of what is.

Thank you so much for your explanation.
J. Lupo

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Anything can be overdone

by sr10 In reply to Project Based Organizatio ...

I managed a development group that was overfocused on projects, and I had to help them relearn how to do process work, i.e., work that has to be done on a repetitive basis every day, week, whatever. The killer was configuration and build, which is not project-oriented but is essential to project success.

Project work and process work have different approaches and emotional demands. You can be an excellent project-oriented service organization, but getting the invoices out every month cannot be a project. It's just exhausting to live that way.

There is a sweet spot between the two extremes. Finding it is an organizational engineering task.

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Finding the sweet spot

by j.lupo In reply to Anything can be overdone

may also be why change is the only constant for organizations and especially IT/development/etc. We need to continually adjust so that we balance the core, project, process/operations work and make sure that staffs are flexible to the needs for those changes.

I think I envision is like surfing on a calm ocean versus in a hurricane. Thanks for your explanation.

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Our Corp IT Dept Uses PM

by jerome.koch In reply to Project Based Organizatio ...

Since 2002, our corp IT has used PM methodolgy. The CIO (new at the time) said it would boost efficiencies, get products out on time, and help justify the hireing of new employees.

In 4 years, the highest growth position in IT has been the Project Manager's position. There are now 9 in a department of 28. The amount of paper work and documentation has grown to such a degree that most net admins and developers have quit. I have to admit, the CEO has been happy with the improved level of service in many areas, as well as improvement in budgets, but the price has been high. The IT dept has seen a turnover rate of 70% in 4 years, and there is definitly a problem between the Project Managers and the "worker bees". The hiring of the new project managers (avr salary of 65,000) has been at the expense of the developers and net admins. Promotions go to the managers and not the techies. Currently, IT has hired 5 contractors to administer the enterprise network, while the CIO hires new people. Contractors usually do not do projects (some cost as much as 100/hour), and the project managers do not have the tech skills to get things done. So, they have 9 Proj managers with nothing to manage.

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This seems to be happening a lot

by j.lupo In reply to Our Corp IT Dept Uses PM

and follows what Charles Handy (1994) wrote about. He indicated that workers would become disposable to an organization and that it would take less people to do more. There is another point too, it costs the company less by using contractors. Forget pay, the company doesn't have to pay for benefits or other things. They only pay contractors for hours worked. They don't have to pay for training, and other things too for contractors.

So, to the CIO and the company profits are going up. However, has anyone looked at the number of projects and the project outcomes? In your example situation, I would recommend some PM research that was done by Dr. Klein. He and his associates have done a lot of work on project outcomes for IT departments using project managers. Your CIO or PMs should really read some of his published studies.

I appreciate your input very much. I am still trying to (as you have probably seen my other posts) understand this issue. The chaos report indicated just how complex the issue is and I am learning a lot about that complexity.

If you are interested about my research feel free to find my discussion on Research on IT projects or you can go to my research website:

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