Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Reading :: Essentials of Strategic Project Management

Originally posted: Tue, 01 Nov 2005 20:56:51

Essentials of Strategic Project Management

by Kevin R. Callahan, Lynne M. Brooks

I know very little about project management, but I've been meaning to learn, both for my own edification and for better understanding organizations. So I went to the library and picked up ? I'm not ashamed to admit it ? the thinnest two project management books I could find. One was Essentials of Strategic Project Management, which turned out to be a good move. Essentials is a short read broken into assimilable chunks. And although it's pitched to larger organizations, the principles are applicable to academic organizations as well.

The book sets up a typology for managing projects: "STO," which stands for the strategic, tactical, and operational levels of planning. The strategic level is managerial and involves initiation and planning of projects. The tactical level involves some planning as well, and also execution; project leaders handle this work. Finally, the operational level, which is handled by team members, involves some execution as well as closing and control (p.32). The typology, of course, is a way of ensuring a division of labor and (not incidentally, though this is dealt with gently in the examples) avoiding compulsive top-down micromanagement.

Once the typology is described, the book discusses how to mesh it with the organization type and the organization's overall business strategy. Coherence is a big theme here, not surprisingly, and the authors devote a lot of thought to reconciling the different components of a complex organization.

One of the more thought-provoking sections for me was the one on project maturity. Apparently project management maturity in organizations has five levels:

  1. Initial Process
  2. Structure Process and Standards
  3. Organizational Standards and Institutionalized Processes
  4. Managed Process
  5. Optimizing Process

By my reading, my organization is between levels 1 and 2. And although academic units are certainly different from business units, I still think there's a lot to learn from the maturity model set forth here. I'll have to do some meditating on this.

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