Project Management Institute

The implementation of modern project management

Project Management in Action


Joan Knutson

Thinking back on the articles in this series in 1994, we have addressed organizational technology issues related to project management. I conclude this series focusing on a strategy for the implementation of modem project management (MPM) within your organization. There are three parts to this strategy.


First, one must be assured that management envisions MPM as an integral part of the organization's strategic plans, and as an initiative which deserves time, attention and resources. Therefore, one looks to the organization's current Strategic Planning Model to see how project management fits in. A traditional Strategic Planning Model views the organization relative to its objectives and strategies from the policy level down to the operational level. This lowest level (operational) enumerates projects which must be completed in order to satisfy the objectives and strategies of the organization.

Figure 1 might be a classic example of a consumer product organization's Strategic Plan. The analysis begins with the Mission Statement. The Business Mission Statement for this organization is clear—“Get new and better products to the marketplace efficiently and in a timely manner in order to increase revenue and bring profit to the bottom line.”

Three objectives could be articulated that will meet this Business Mission. They are:


Joan Knutson is president and founder of Project Management Mentors, a San Francisco-based project management consulting and training firm. She is in the process of developing a project management toolkit for the project management community. If you have any ideas of functions which should be included, let her know by writing to PMIC.

  • Drive forward time-to-market internal development of new products
  • Meet and beat the competition
  • Attain ultimate cost reductions.

Each of these policy-level objectives is met by implementing relevant policy-level strategies such as:

  • Objective – Time-to-market driven product development.
    • Strategy-Create, produce and sell new or enhanced products with an emphasis on time-to-market.
  • Objective–Meet and beat the competition.
    • Strategy– Produce new products internally and make complementary alliances through acquisition, joint venture and licensing.
  • Objective – Attain all possible cost reductions.
    • Strategy–Reengineer all relevant processes to be more cost effective and time efficient.

Each of these policy-level strategies is driven down to an operational level, which would consist of several objectives. For the sake of this discussion, a Product/Project Process Initiative (referred to as P3) that addresses the implementation of project management in the organization is the only one shown. This P3 objective might be decomposed into several strategies:

  • Institute an appropriate P3 Organization
  • Position a consistent Product Methodology
  • Position a consistent Project Management Methodology.

Finally, at the lowest operational level are activities that will implement P3. Let's look at these activities more closely.


Below is a list of the activities as shown in the Strategic Planning Model that will support the implementation of MPM.

Figure 1. An Organization's Strategic Plan

An Organization's Strategic Plan

Strategy To institute an appropriate Product/Project Organization

1.1: Establish an appropriate project organization structure and associated nomenclature.

1.2: Develop job descriptions to accommodate the project organization structure and revise existing job descriptions accordingly.

1.3: Implement a reward system that supports the project organization.

Strategy: To position a consistent Product Methodology Process

2.1: Create a standardized project selection procedure.

2.2: Create a standardized project prioritization procedure.

2.3: Develop a task template (including responsibilities, deliverables and dependencies) for the Ideation, Development and Commercialization phases of the product development life cycle.

Strategy: To position a consistent Project Management Methodology

3.1: Develop planned process guidelines.

3.2: Develop tracking and reporting process guidelines.

3.3: Develop change management guidelines.

3.4: Evaluate and install project management software.

3.5: Provide appropriate training.

[Note: There may be other activities that could be added to this list.]

I have chosen to use a project network diagram to portray the relationship between these activities [see Figure 2]. The network diagram depicts activities in technological order from left (start) to right (end). The arrows represent dependencies of a predecessor activity to a successor activity. Even though the diagram shows that a predecessor activity should be 100 percent completed before a successor activity begins, that is probably not true in real life. Many of the successor activities will be able to begin when a portion of the predecessor activity is complete.

Figure 2. Product/Project Process (P3) Initiative



Prioritization of activities to implement project management into your organization are implied in the network diagram [refer again to Figure 2]. As you can see, after the project organization structure (Project 1.1) is implemented and basic awareness training is conducted (Project 3.5), there are four tracks, as follows:

Track 1: The Product Methodology Tern-plate track defines tasks in a typical product development project, and the associated responsibilities, deliverables and depend. encies for each of the tasks.

Track 2: The Project Selection and Project Prioritization procedures support the Ideation (initiation/concept design) phase.

Track 3: The Project Management Process includes guidelines that support project planning, tracking and reporting, change management, and application of software and training.

Track 4: Further definition of the project organization structure, including job descriptions and reward systems for the Project Office staff and project team members as well as modification of responsibilities and rewards for functional heads and staff to ensure they are consistent with the new organization concepts.

At the end of every track is a roll-out, which is the dissemination of information (always in a documented form) to those who need to know. This dissemination of information may be via mass distribution accompanied by a cover letter, of via a meeting or training program. Each method of roll-out will be chosen to best communicate the information.

Certain of the priorities are clear; others are not. The determination of the project organization structure and basic training on the discipline of project management, so that everyone can contribute from a common ground, are most important. The job descriptions and reward systems (Track 4), even though important, should be derived from the results of each of the other tracks. The first activity (1.1 – Structure and Nomenclature) must establish the philosophy that will guide the other two activities to ensure a common understanding and minimize resistance to the forthcoming changes. The relative priority of the Project Management Process (Track 3), the Product Management

Template (Track 1) and the Project Selection and Prioritization procedures (Track 2) is a management call.


Project management is one of the many operational-level initiatives of an organization's Strategic Planning process. This operational-level objective is accomplished through the completion of associated activities. The suggested activities in this model support the implementation of a Product/Project organization, a Product Methodology, and a Project Management Methodology.

This implementation model is the framework from which I suggest you implement project management in your organization, or from which you begin a reengineering effort to reevaluate and reimplement project management to make it fit the needs of 1995. ❏

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

PMNETwork • December 1994



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