Developing AT&T's Project Management Process



would in fact share the responsibility for the site with the Program Manager. This Program Manager is usually supported by other Site Managers, potentially a Cost Analysis/Schedule Engineer, and a clerical staff. The assignment as a Site Manager would generally last 6 months to 12 months.

After a number of successful performances at the Site Manager position, the next higher level of responsibility and exposure is being named the Project Manager for a relatively small project of about $lM to $3M of revenue. This Project Manager position is the first exposure that the employee will have where they will have the sole responsibility for the project delivery. Although, they will be under the supervision of a Project Director, the employee will now be a full fledged Project Manager.

Project Manager

The next higher level of Project Manager will be responsible for the larger projects in the $3M to $25M of revenue. These projects will generally have multiple project management team members involved, minimally a Cost Analysis/Schedule Engineer, and as the project size becomes larger, additional Site Managers will be assigned. The larger projects in this range also are usually of longer duration, which provides the opportunity for assignment of multiple subordinate project management team members for development.

Program Manager

The position of Program Manager is the highest Project Management title within the new project management organization. This position is responsible for AT&T's largest premises projects ranging from $ 25M to over $100M of revenue. These programs usually span multiple years in duration and are comprised of multiple sites cutting over to their new telecommunications systems at different times. Generally, these programs have multiple Site Managers and Cost Analysis/Schedule Engineers assigned to them as well as a clerical support staff. This position is reserved for the very best Project Managers that AT&T has. It is viewed that these programs need the full range of project management skills that are addressed above.


Executive Support

The president of Business Communications Systems, Jack Butter, began providing support for the Project Management discipline in his internal pre-

Russell D. Archibald, CMC, PMP Archibald & Associates

My involvement with the AT&T project management process began in 1987 when I happened to sit at the same table with Dan Ono at a dinner meeting of the Southern California Chapter of PMI. (It pays to go to those chapter meetings!) Dan was then in charge of project management for Southern California and Hawaii for AT&T's major projects to install new telecommunications/information systems on a client's premises. We met a few days later to discuss how their current project management process might be improved to respond to the tremendous competition AT&T was getting after their divestiture of the Bell operating companies and the accompanying deregulation of the telecommunications industry. In addition, these projects were becoming more complex, with higher risks, and entailed many more interfaces with the client's facilities, separate telecommunications companies, and other parts of AT&T itself.

The needs were how to shorten the project life cycle, come in on budget, and meet the technical specifications for performance and quality. The budgets were tighter than ever before, due to the competitive pricing of newcomers trying to buy their way into the market. Additionally, consistent high quality performance was an imperative brought on by the competitive environment and the ever increasing expectations of AT&T's clients.


Responding to Dan's comments that it seemed to take too long for a new project team to get their act together after a major contract was signed, we initially focused on the start-up phase as a fertile place to attack the problem. I had been active for several years with the INTERNET Committee on Project Start-Up, and proposed to Dan that we apply some of the techniques that we had developed in that committee to his projects. The result was, after testing the approach on two or three projects, the incorporation of an intensive Project Kickoff Workshop into the AT&T Project Management Process. I facilitated quite a number of these Project Kickoff Workshops across the U.S. and trained several staff members in the approach. For the past two years these have been conducted almost entirely by AT&T people.


Realistic plans and schedules that the project team is committed to; more rapid development of really effective teamwork; improved understanding and acceptance of the project manager role; on-time completion, with improved quality. The teams have learned that high quality can be achieved under tight schedules and budget-if they work together and do each job right the first time.


Dan Ono has always emphasized to his people that excellent results are achieved through having good people and a good process. As he pointed out, it takes an exceptional person to produce good results with a poor process and weak tools, but exceptional people can produce breakthrough results with a good process and good tools. So he focused his improvement efforts on both of these aspects. He asked me to help develop and present a number of seminars on project management practices, which was done over several years. While these were directed primarily to his project managers, we invited and encouraged functional managers and specialists to participate as well. The seminars were designed to be highly participative, and to contribute to the development of the Project Management Process. Wherever possible and appropriate, we broke into small teams to explore and analyze the difficulties in the AT&T environment of applying a particular project management practice; the resulting recommendations often had direct impact on the final process.

The Project Kickoff Workshops were also used, and continue to be used, to provide training in the basics of project management. If an experienced team has been through several Kickoff Workshops, the length of the workshops were shortened by reducing the training portions of the agenda.


Having a good process that is well documented does not guarantee that it will be used in all parts of a large organization, as those of you who are in such organizations well know. To foster wider use of the Project Kickoff Workshops, for example, I developed and conducted, with Wes Wolford and his staff (then responsible for AT&T Network Projects in the Western Region of the U.S.), a series of two-day workshops on the process of starting up these projects. We presented the concepts behind the intensive Project Kickoff Workshops, and then simulated such a workshop with the project managers that reported to Wes. The concepts were adapted and applied to their projects, which have a much different character from the premises projects that Dan was responsible for at that time.

Similarly, through my facilitation of these Kickoff Workshops in other regions across the U. S., project management staff members in those regions were trained to be able to carry on facilitation on their new projects themselves.


In addition to reviewing the content of the AT&T Project Management Process documentation as it was developed, to assure that accepted principles and terminology of project management were observed and to comment on the overall structure, I assisted the National Project Management staff in preparing the Performance Evaluation Review Package. This provides guidelines for reviewing and evaluating the performance of project teams at four specific points in the overall process. These points are at the end of the conceptual, planning and implementation phases, and after completion of the project. Initially this was targeted toward only the project manager, but we decided that the entire project team should be evaluated, looking at how well they followed the process as well as their performance in meeting the project objectives.

This was a challenging opportunity, and the results were achieved through the excellent teamwork of all the involved persons, with a hard-driving project manager, Dan Ono, in the lead.


Russell D. Archibald has broad international experience as practitioner, consultant, and teacher in program/project management for a wide range of clients. He has participated in a number of management audits and has presented expert witness testimony to regulatory bodies and courts.

Mr. Archibald has been director of several major projects, vice president of international planning of a U.S. multinational corporation, staff director department manager, aerospace design engineer, and construction engineer. He has taught numerous seminars and courses in project management in eight countries, and for ten years was on the faculty of the Engineering and Management School at UCLA. He is an internationally recognized authority on project management and has published two books and numerous articles on this subject.

Mr. Archibald earned a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas and bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri. He is a fellow of the Project Management Institute (PMI), a founder (member #6), past vice president, and is now a Certified Project Management Professional as well as Certified Management Consultant.

October 1990



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