Projects, project management and careers – 4: the projects approach from the perspective of senior management
This is my fourth installment in a series on projects and project management as a career path (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 250-252 for Parts 1-3.) So far I have discussed a set of issues that arise for working on and managing projects, and I have discussed the relationship between projects and operations, and how they relate to each other in the overall business framework. I turn in this posting to consider projects and project management, and project managers from the perspective of senior management and the executive suite.
A perhaps obvious place to start this is with organizations that are running projects on a very regular and ongoing basis. This is in fact fairly common for larger businesses and corporations that carry out a lot of their own systems and resource development work, and with in-house developed solutions. Individual projects can simply be developed and carried out under the authority of the senior management of the specific departments and services that would be most directly impacted upon by the results of those projects, and who as such would champion their being done. But it is also common to organize large areas of project work together, under the specific management of senior administrators who have experience and even training and certification in project management and in higher level project administration, and the coordinate management of multiple projects – suites of projects. The operational and strategic goal here should be to develop just enough formal structure to best meet the organization’s needs, and no more or less than that. Experienced project managers and more senior project administrators can be invaluable for finding the most effective resolutions to those issues. And for larger organizations, this can become an organizationally essential career path.
From the business perspective, this means consecutively and coordinately setting up, carrying through upon and benchmarking and reviewing projects more efficiently, so as to gain the greatest possible return on investment from minimal expenditure. That means setting up systems that can be reused and it means making effective use of resources so as to limit need to duplicate them avoidably and still get all essential work done.
From the project manager and administrator perspective, this means convincingly arguing the case that it would be more cost effective to carry out at least essential project work in-house than it would be to outsource it or to bring in third party service providers. I add that direct expenses for the two options: in-house or outside-provided, should only be seen as one factor there. And those costs might not even be the most significant ones, and certainly for time sensitive projects, or for projects where in-house management of proprietary or confidential information would be of primary concern.
Project managers and administrators need to understand all of the costs/benefits and risk management issues that would go into determining what should be done in-house and what should be handled by outside third parties.
And systems resources and services developed in house should also be reviewed and on an ongoing basis for their potential value in the marketplace and for the price points and value returned they could achieve there. In this, projects initially developed for in-house use can at times be turned into sources of new commoditizable products and services too. So project administrators at least should always be looking at the projects they supervise from a comprehensive perspective, and for all of their potentialities.
With this I have at least briefly outlined how projects fit into an organization and its systems. My goal in this series is not to discuss project methodology per se, which is an important topic area in its own right though not material for this directory. It has been to discuss projects as a career path and work choice, and how projects fit into a business and from that perspective. I am going to turn to projects and the project life cycle in my next installment.
In a fundamental sense I began this when writing my recent series on consulting as a career choice (see Consulting Assignment Life Cycle at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2, postings 225 and following), so I recommend related postings from that series too, and certainly for anyone who is considering in-house project management as a career choice. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 2. I have also posted extensively on jobs and careers-related topics in my first Guide directory page on Job Search and Career Development.