Who is accountable for ultimate
Top management gives a new project the go-ahead with great expectations. The project manager and her team apply themselves to the planning
and execution of the project deliverables with deep commitment. The project product is launched on due date and within budget, but within a few months it is clear that the product is a dismal failure. Who is
accountable and answerable for this situation?
“Projects have two over-arching processes that run in parallel with each other,” explains Terry Deacon, CEO of ProjectPro, a
Pretoria-based firm of project management consultants and training providers. “The project management process describes, organises and completes the work of the project, and the project manager is accountable for
this process. The product-oriented process specifies and creates the project’s product, and the line or functional managers are traditionally accountable for this process. Integrating the two processes is the
primary responsibility of the project manager.”
So where does the buck stop if a product fails in the marketplace? “Depending on which project management philosophy you follow the answer
could vary,” comments Deacon. “Project managers following the North American Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) approach would say that they did their job to bring the project in on time and budget, and that it was the fault of the functional design and marketing team that the product failed. On the other side of the world the Japanese Project and Programme Management (P2M) approach expects the project manager to be accountable for the success of the project and product processes.” The European approach is somewhere in the middle.
However, in North America, great emphasis has recently been placed on the role of the project sponsor to increase the success rate of
Team members turn to the project manager for help when they encounter a problem. But whom can the project manager turn to when s/he needs
support? One of the major reasons for project failure is a lack of top management support, so it is important that a senior management representative be appointed to ensure that the project stays aligned with the
This person is called a project sponsor who acts as a crucial link between the project and the originating organisation (client). By virtue
of their senior position, sponsors can help project managers to obtain scarce resources, remove obstacles, test ideas, and help solve problems (particularly political ones!). The project sponsor should ensure that
the feasibility studies and viability of the product is sound before project go-ahead is given. After the project life cycle has been completed (and the project manager has been re-deployed) the sponsor should
monitor the product’s performance in the operating life cycle to feed back any lessons learned.
“So it appears that ultimate project and product success depends on the integration of the efforts of the project team, the functional
managers and the sponsor to satisfy the needs of. project stakeholders. The project manager plays a pivotal role in integrating their efforts through building an efficient and effective team to achieve the
project’s objectives,” concludes Deacon.
Road Map to Project Success
A project is like a journey; it has a beginning and an end, undertaken with specific objectives.
To have a successful journey or project one needs a vehicle, a driver and a road map. All three have been
provided in the Project Management Institute’s (PMI®) guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Regular updates to the PMBOK® Guide by the best project management brains
throughout the world have identified the essential knowledge, practices and processes that are applicable to most projects most of the time
The components of the vehicle are the nine project knowledge areas: Integration, Scope, Time, Cost,
Quality, Human Resources, Communication, Risk and Procurement. These knowledge areas comprise a total of 39 sub-processes.
However, vehicles are useless without drivers. The PMBOK® Guide has identified five project management
process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing. These serve as the driving forces of the knowledge areas.
What about the road map? If one creates a matrix with the knowledge areas as rows and process groups as
columns, a very clear map is obtained which indicates what project management sub-processes and activities need to be done, and when.
“This is an ingenious, flexible approach as the processes can be applied to the life cycle of the project
as a whole, or applied iteratively to each life cycle phase, no matter how many phases one has in the life cycle”, says Terry Deacon, member of the Project Management Standards Generating Body (PMSGB) and
CEO of ProjectPro Management Services. ProjectPro, a SAQA / Services Seta accredited provider of project management training from levels 3 to 6, has modeled their courses on the above approach.
This approach has been one of the inputs used by the PMSGB to identifying the project management unit
standards and specific outcomes for the various NQF levels. It is also being considered as a framework for the NQF level 4 PM Learnership that is presently being developed.
“One of the requirements of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is that our unit
standards should be internationally compatible,” adds Deacon. “The PMBOK® Guide is approved by the American National Standard Institute and is a de facto
international standard. The International Standards Organisation’s ISO 10006 Guideline to Quality in PM is closely aligned to the PMBOK® Guide. Furthermore the
Australian National Competency Standards for PM are based on the PMBOK® Guide’s nine knowledge areas.”
The proof of the pudding is the fact that Southern African projects that have been managed based on the PMBOK® Guide, have on three occasions won the
international Project Of the Year (POY) award since its inception in 1990. The POY is organised by the PMI® based in the USA. The Project Management Institute
South Africa organises the local stage of this competition, which is known as the Project Management Excellence (PME) award
Terry Deacon may be contacted at ProjectPro tel. 012-346 6674 or 082-557 3119 for more information.