How to Structure Leadership Roles for Guaranteed Project Delivery
Recently, project managers roles have changed; they're responsible for more than mere project delivery of projects, they're responsibilities now also include important issues such as compliance to project controls and audit requirements such as SOX, HIPPA, and many industry-specific regulations. These additional responsibilities complicate the delivery process and burden project managers.
IT project managers typically come from different backgrounds. Some project managers have development backgrounds, and can understand the technical issues and help resolve them. However, the constant changes to technology quickly make the technical skills of any project manager outdated. Soon, the project manager loses the ability to understand the technical issues, and instead must rely on other technical resources in the team. The problem arises when a project has not been structured with the relevant technical resources. In such cases the project manager will get inaccurate advice about resolving the issues. The problem is even more aggravated for project managers who come from non-technical background.
This article demonstrates how to pair a project manager with a technical representative such as an architect or tech lead to guarantee project delivery when no formal architectural role exists.
The ideas presented here are easily achieved by IT organizations that have a formal Project Management Office (PMO) and consistency in architecture applicability. Smaller or less formal IT groups that do not have either a PMO or consistent architecture practices can benefit more by combining the ideas presented in this article with the establishment of such practices.
|Author's Note: See the article "Architectural Layers and Tips on how to Achieve Architecture Consistency" for more information about organizing the different architectural roles and attaining consistent architecture.|
IT groups employ architects to play a senior guiding role for technical solutions. When the architects role is not formalized (typical in smaller organizations), a senior developer or tech lead typically fulfills the need to direct the solution design. Irrespective of an IT organization's size, the project manager has a main role in project delivery, and usually acts as the single point of contact for any given project.
Organizations expect project managers to get specialized help or resources to solve problems in specific problem areas. In fact, this is where problems usually occur, because the project manager may not have sufficient understanding of the problem to get the specialized help needed. Present-day projects vary in complexity, requiring different technical skills to solve problems; specific knowledge to forecast delivery timelines accurately or communicate realistic expectations to the customer (or business) about solution delivery. Table 1 illustrates some examples.
|Complexity||Critical Technical Issues|
|Delivering strategic initiatives such as Global ERP or Supply Chain Replacement||
|Replacing legacy applications with updated technologieseither with custom solutions or a COTS solution||
|Infrastructure improvement or replacement, such as installing routers, upgrading hardware, or making operations center changes, etc.||
|Key strategic releases for any IT products, such as in health care or banking||
Even though the examples shown in Table 1 are not exhaustive, they illustrate the complex situations where IT needs reinforcement for project leadership. Such proposed partnerships will bring the specific expertise onboard (such as for those illustrated in Table 1) to help the project manager achieve success.