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How to Structure Leadership Roles for Guaranteed Project Delivery

  • September 28, 2009
  • By Raja Gangavarapu
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Partnering

In organizations with formal architect roles, the technology expertise comes from the architecture group. Therefore, bringing the architect in at the inception or planning stage to partner with the project manager can help in creating the overall project plan, which will then have properly thought out tasks and dependencies to deliver the solution.

At the same time, resource contention is a real issue in development organizations, so be careful when creating this kind of partnership. Some suggestions that can help are:


Figure 1. Shared Responsibilities:
The figure shows typical task responsibilities from a project delivery perspective shared between a project manager and an architect.
  1. From the project delivery stand point, the solution architect (or tech lead) should come from the delivery group.
  2. The project manager can be from the PMO or from development groups. Many large organizations tend to have a PMO that acts as a third pillar (sometimes combined with QA), the other two are a development or delivery group and an infrastructure group.
  3. For large initiatives, IT organizations need to be careful when procuring architectural capabilities. Sometimes, instituting an internal program and promoting an existing senior technical staffer to an architect's role can be more fruitful (provided that the architecture group is willing to offer a proper mentoring process).
  4. For smaller projects, such as minor releases, bug fixes, or small enhancements, the architectural responsibilities can be delegated to a senior developer. Such opportunities are useful for training senior developers to play the architect role.
  5. IT needs to establish a way to measure the success of this partnership, and a constant monitoring process to make it more effective and localized.

Figure 1 demonstrates the responsibilities shared between the project manager and an architect from a project delivery perspective. The tasks in Figure 1 are typically common to any project. While a given project could have tasks that are not covered here, you can apply the idea to any type of tasks.

Troika of IT Delivery

IT project delivery evolution reached an important stage with the arrival of Portfolio Management. Combined with Program Management and Project Management, Portfolio Management creates a complete framework that enables IT and businesses to establish measurable objectives at the strategy stage and provides a method to check results after delivery (see Figure 2).

Author's Note: An in-depth discussion of these three management concepts is outside the scope of this article; however, it does cover how to establish a partnership during each management phase.


Figure 2. Portfolio Management:
The figure shows appropriate partnerships during each management phase.

During Portfolio Management, IT and Business must make sure that an IT solution to address a potential business need can generate appropriate value after the implementation. This process helps ensure project prioritization: projects with the highest ROI get top priority. Many IT organizations are establishing a Portfolio Management process as part of making sure that business investments have proper returns, thus aligning IT with business’s goals and objectives.

This process typically happens during the strategy phase of the overall process. It also helps ensure that IT has the right tools (or establishes the need to procure those tools) as part of implementing new initiatives. It's important to involve architecture to resolve any issues before an initiative is approved. Typically, enterprise architects get involved at this phase. If no process exists, it's the responsibility of IT to make sure that architecture groups get involved.





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