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Knowledge - MAX

Introduction
The purpose of this paper is to bring together the findings of the previous papers in this series
to show a connecting thread that, if followed, leads to a better understanding of the project
management process, and hence to higher levels of project success. This thread is
summarized as follows
· The meaning of project success
· The nature of fundamentally different types of project
· Their technological content
· Their scope and degree of complexity
· The nature of project work
· Project leader personality traits and consequent management styles, and
· Selection of most appropriate project leader for best chance of project success.
But what is "project success", and how might such success be influenced by the particular type
of project and how it is managed?
Any serious discussion of the concepts of project management require that the terms to be
used are clearly defined. While there is a general understanding of what a project is and what
project management is about, there is no consensus amongst practitioners as to precise
definitions of either of these terms. So we must start our journey by establishing what we mean
by the terms we use for the purposes of this paper.
For examples of different definitions in common use in each case, visit the PM Glossary and
look up each term!
Project and project management
In the context of "project success", our preferred definition of project is as follows. 1
“A unique set of coordinated activities, with definite starting and finishing points, undertaken by
an individual or organization to meet specific objectives within defined time, cost and
performance parameters.” To this we would add that the project is only completed when the
intended product or deliverable has been satisfactorily transferred into the hands of the
customer.
This definition implies that a project involves both process and organization and this is quite
distinct from the "product" which is the resulting output. In this respect, the word "project" is
often misused to refer to "the end result", i.e. the "product". It should also be noted that the
process is a "journey through time" and that the objectives, expressed in terms of scope,
quality, time and cost determine the "boundaries" or limitations imposed on this journey. The
measure of "customer satisfaction", on the other hand, is the measure of the project’s success
as reflected in the perception and acceptance of the end product.
Project management, then, is the management of the process or journey just described. Yet, it
too has a fundamental underlying concept. Perhaps this was best expressed more than 2,500
years ago by the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius, when he said “In all things, success
depends upon previous preparation - and without preparation there is sure to be failure.”
In modern parlance, this elementary observation translates into a simple two-step sequence:
"Plan before doing". This basic concept is the foundation of the project life cycle by which
projects need to be managed. That is to say, first plan, then do. This is also reflected in the
Demming Quality mantra “PDCA” (also known as the Demming Wheel) which stands for Plan,
Do, Check, Act and describes the Demming quality control management cycle.
Project Success
Since the ultimate objective of project management is to be "successful", we should first deal
with the issue of "success". What really constitutes "project success"? From a project process
perspective, the classic response is being “On time, within budget and meeting requirements.”
However, from a product perspective, a successful project is clearly one in which the
"customer" ends up satisfied.
The former criteria have exercised project managers for decades, but once a particular project
is completed, the results in terms of the parameters described are merely history. In contrast,
the success of the product will continue to be an issue for its remaining useful product life.
Clearly, "project product success" eventually transcends "project process success".
Indeed, there have been many cases of failure to meet process success, notably in the
information technology field, yet the product has proved to be very successful. Similarly, but
regretfully, vice versa. Optimum success is obtained when both success dimensions are
achieved simultaneously.
But product success is not so readily identified. In 1988 Pinto and Slevin concluded from their
research work that “Project success is a complex and often illusory construct, but nonetheless,
it is of crucial importance to effective project implementation,” and, “project success is
suggested to have two major components: issues dealing with the project itself and issues
dealing with the client.” In addition, Pinto and Slevin stressed “... the necessity of developing
an adequate program in terms of knowing when to determine project success.”2 (Emphasis
added.)
In a 1997 study, Shenhar, Dvir and Levy developed a universal multidimensional framework for
the assessment of project success.3 In this view, project success is seen as a strategic
management concept where project efforts must be aligned with the strategic long-term goals
of the same organization that the product of the project is intended to serve. The intent is to
establish appropriate expectations of both the receiving management and the project team
prior to project initiation. These expectations then provide a baseline for both the decision to
launch project execution and the inevitable trade-off decisions that will be required of the
project’s management during this period. Surprisingly, a documented baseline of measurable
success criteria, or "Key Success Indicators" (KSIs) is frequently missing from the planning of
most projects.
The Shenhar, Dvir and Levy study revealed four primary categories as seen at project
completion:
· Project Efficiency - Internal Project Objectives such as meeting time and budget goals.
· Impact on the Customer - Immediate and long-term benefit to the customer
· Direct and Business Success - Direct contribution to the organization (usually not
observable until the medium term), and
· Preparing the Future - Future opportunity (e.g. competitiveness or technical advantage
typically expected in the long term.)
Each of these four categories is translated into measurable criteria as shown in Table 1.

It will be noted from these primary categories that time since project completion is a factor in
the assessments and it is not difficult to infer that the perception of project success may
change with time. If the principal focus of a project is to create future opportunity (fourth
category), then such a project is unlikely to be viewed as a success until those opportunities
actually come to fruition. This relationship is demonstrated in Figure 1.
Much of the project management literature refers to "Critical Success Factors" or "CSFs".
However, such factors should be distinguished from the success indicator measures listed
above, because they are management environment variables and not outcomes. CSFs may be
defined as follows:

“Those managerial factors, listed in order of importance, that when present in the
project’s environment are most conducive to the achievement of a successful
project."
Examples include: Project objectives aligned with corporate mission; top
management support; a culture of open communication”4 and so on.
Research has shown that attention to these factors will improve the probability of project
success, and reduce the chances of failure, but they do not drive the direction and decisionmaking
on the project..
The nature of projects generally
Projects are not only unique undertakings but their range in objectives, size, complexity and
technology (areas of project management application) are almost limitless. To aid in
sponsorship planning and decision-making, it would clearly be helpful if projects could be
categorized into some meaningful and practical classification framework.
To this end, Shenhar et al conducted a series of studies over the period 1993-1998 based on a
collection of more than 120 projects for which detailed management data was available.5,6,7,8
The authors found that as technological uncertainty increases so does the need for increased
technical management and that as complexity increases so does the need for higher and more
formal project management. However, as both increase there is a third dimension in which
there must be much higher levels of process and component integration and testing as shown

Subsets of these projects were then examined more closely for parameters that might be
relevant and suitable. Up to 100 parameters were identified, but for practical purposes a simple
but enlightening classification system emerged. Based on their findings, the authors proposed
a two dimensional project typology consisting of Project Management Scope versus
Technological Uncertainty.
Again, for practical purposes, the two continuous scales have been reduced to four levels of
Technological Content and three levels of Program/Project Management Scope. This matrix is
shown in Figure 3.
The descriptors along each dimension of Figure 3 are briefly described in the next section.
Fuller descriptions are provided in an earlier paper in this series.9
Technological content
Type A – Low-tech (Established Technology). These projects rely on existing and wellestablished
base technologies to which all industry players have equal access. They can be
very large in scale, but essentially no new technology is employed at any stage.
Examples - standard building construction, utility projects.
Type B – Medium-tech (Mostly Established Technology). These are similar to Type A, but
involve some new technology or feature. While the majority of the work has relatively low
uncertainty, the new feature provides market advantage but also a higher degree of
uncertainty.

Examples – new models in established product lines (autos, appliances), concrete construction
using advanced carbon fiber reinforcement.
Type C – High-tech (Advanced Technology). These are projects which contain technologies
that have been developed prior to project initiation, but which are used together for the first
time.
Examples - most defense industry projects, new computer family.
Type D – Super High-tech (Highly Advanced Technology). These are projects that call for
the incorporation of technologies which are not entirely existing, are emerging or even require
unknown solutions at the time of project initiation. Such projects incorporate exploratory
development and non-existing technology development during project execution.
Examples – Moon landing, star wars.
Program/project management scope and complexity
Level 1 – Assembly (Simple Project). This project relates to a collection of components and
modules combined into a single unit.
Example - a computer’s display.
Level 2 – System (Complex Project). This is one which consists of a complex collection of
interactive elements and subsystems within a single product, but which jointly perform a range
of independent functions to meet a specific operational need.
Examples - a computer work station, a radar system.
Level 3 – Array (Program). Rather than a single project, this is a series of related projects
designed to accomplish broad goals and to which the individual projects contribute.
Examples - a national communication network, a city.
As Figure 3 indicates, progression along the Technological Uncertainty dimension leads to the
need for increased intensity in technology management. Progression up the Program/Project
Management Scope axis increases the project management complexity and leads to increased
intensity and use of project management tools. When both are combined together, there is a
compounding effect resulting in the need for both added technology management techniques
as well as more comprehensive project management techniques.
In this view of project typology, the relationship with the primary success categories discussed
earlier is shown in Table 2.

The nature of project work
The foregoing classification provides a way of categorizing projects and consequently for
assessing the extent and type of management techniques required. But what of the people
involved? Are there differences in the styles of management that would be most appropriate in
each case for managing the people on the project?
It is a common experience that different people respond to different styles of leadership. Some
respond better to being told what to do, while others respond better when allowed to think
more for themselves. Intuitively, one suspects that the former aligns more with craft work
requiring training while the latter aligns more with intellectual work where people have more
opportunity to educate themselves.
Therefore, the authors suggest that differences in project management styles should be
determined by a more fundamental distinction between or within projects. This distinction has
to do with both the type of product emanating from the project and the type of work required to
create that product, and this distinction should be made at the individual work-package level.
Depending on the nature of the work package product, the effort required to manage the
process and to produce the product will require varying degrees of both intellectualism and
craftsmanship. From the perspective of management, it is the extent and balance between
these components that provide the distinguishing features.
Thus, we can envision a simple matrix consisting of two broad types of product, namely,
"tangible" and "intangible", and two types of work, namely, "craft" and "intellect". These may be
defined as follows.10
Tangible Product. These products are ones in which the primary value is in the physical
artifact.
Examples - new building, a piece of hardware.
Intangible Product. These products are ones in which the primary value is in their intellectual
property even though there is some tangible product as the vehicle for conveyance.
Examples - new software, a manual.
Craft Work. This work is the result of manual dexterity, has been done before, and essentially
requires repetitive effort.
Examples – brick laying, welding.
Intellect Work. This work is the result of applying "brain-power", has not been done before,
and requires new ideas and imagination.
Examples - new process, new design.
It should be noted that all projects involve intellectual work in their planning and in this respect
all projects appear to be similar. Indeed, this may be the root of a popular misconception with
many that all project management is the same. However, it is the production work in the
execution stage of the project that results in actual final product and, from a project
management perspective, it is this that distinguishes one type of project from another.
At first glance it might appear that craft work is simply the requirement of tangible-type
projects, and intellect work is the requirement of intangible-type projects. However, a 2x2
matrix introduces the possibility of adding both tangible-intellect projects as well as intangiblecraft
projects.
Table 311 shows the characteristics, results, and some examples of each of all four basic
project types.

Project management style and personality traits
In the March 1996 issue of the PMI Journal, Kliem and Anderson discussed the project
manager’s style or approach toward team-building as a key variant in managing projects
successfully.12 They observed that “Only recently has the influence of the project manager’s
personality on project performance received recognition.”13 They identified four primary styles
in how a person approaches relevant work situations and applied this to the processes of
planning, organizing, controlling and leading.
Kliem and Anderson concluded that “Knowing the type of [project] environment and the teambuilding
style [required] of the project manager increases the opportunities for selecting the
right person for the position...”14 Unfortunately, the descriptors they used are not terms familiar
to most project management people.
To bring more recognizable and practical utility to the issue of project leader selection, a sixstep
analysis was undertaken.15 The analysis commenced with a review of the last ten years
of PMI publications to abstract familiar words or phrases used to describe a project manager’s
required personal characteristics and skill sets. The selection excluded words depicting
technical experience or know-how. The result was a list of some 200 words or phrases and,
not surprisingly, implied that the leader of a project should be an impossible paragon of virtue.
The next step involved a literature review of personality typology and selecting those dominant
types most relevant to the project management environment. This was based on two
dimensions of "Focus" versus "Approach" as shown in Figure 4. This provided four "types" to
which familiar but differentiated project leadership titles could be assigned. The list of words or
phrases were then subjectively assigned to each title, except those that plainly referred to all
four types.

Subsequent steps involved subdividing each group into either inherent personality traits or
learnable skill sets, and matching these word sets across the four project management types
to provide a cross-check and some degree of uniformity. In the final step, the word groupings
were further subdivided into the management processes of planning, organizing, executing
and controlling.
Of course, the propensities and skills of individuals never fit these descriptions exactly. Nor, for
that matter, are projects ever that simple. But the arrangement does begin to show a
correlation between personal characteristics and the realities of different project management
environments.
The data is provided in the paper referenced above, but it is also available in the form of a twopart
questionnaire for those who would like to conduct a self-examination.
Table 4: summarizes the characteristics and skill sets of the four types of project leader.16


Four types of project leader
The resulting four types of project leader may be briefly characterized as follows.
Explorer. The explorer or entrepreneur type project leader has a vision of the future and
projects are the stepping stones.
Characteristics: strategic thinker, bold and imaginative, comfortable in the lead, and exuding
confidence and charisma.
Coordinator. The coordinator types become paramount when the project situation calls for
"facilitation".
Characteristics: practical, thorough, willing to compromise and takes the time to ensure that
team issues are surfaced, discussed, and resolved to mutual satisfaction.
Driver. The driver type project leaders are distinctly action-oriented and are both hard-working
and hard driving.
Characteristics: pragmatic, realistic, resourceful, structured and hard driving, and their focus is
on precise project goals.
Administrator. The administrator recognizes the need for some stability, to optimize
productivity through maxim repetition to complete the work.
Characteristics: analytical, responsible and dependable, gives thought to trade-offs, conflicts
and problem resolution. Work is highly organized.
In reality, experienced and skilled project managers often find themselves "shifting gears" to
suit immediate circumstances during the course of whichever stage the project is actually in.
Nevertheless, experience and the literature suggest that it is unusual to find all four traits in a
single person. What is important across all four styles is the project manager’s force of
personality, tenacity and skill.
Bringing it all together
It would be very satisfying if it were possible to relate these various project management
elements into one cohesive pattern. However, project management is multi-dimensional
apparently with no direct correspondence. Nevertheless, there do appear to be some common
trends.
Shenhar and Dvir have observed from their project database that a number of common project
variables progress from one form to another across the Technological Uncertainty spectrum as
shown in Figure 3. For example, from established technology projects to highly advanced or
exploratory projects, design cycles and design freezes progress from only one cycle with a
design freeze prior to execution, to multiple cycles and late design freeze well into the
execution period. Similarly, communications progress from formal and relative few regularly
scheduled meetings to multiple, frequent and informal interaction.
In the former low-end type of project, the project manager must have good administrative
skills, a firm style and stick to the initial plan. At the high end, the project manager must be an
exceptional technical leader to handle highly skilled professionals, adopt a highly flexible style,
and live with continuous change.17 This suggests that at the low end, a good administrative or
driver type is required, while at the high end what is required is a good explorer/coordinator.
Similarly, we might compare the different types of major elements in projects with technological
uncertainty and management style. As shown in Table 3, most traditional projects fall into the
Tangible/Craft quadrant and require the driver type manager for their execution. At the
opposite end, the major elements of many of the hi- or super hi-tech projects fall into the
Intangible/Intellect quadrant requiring the explorer/coordinator type manager for execution.
We might go further and match the project manager style required on a "traditional" type
project with its project life cycle as follows.
At its most fundamental level, every well-run traditional project has four major periods in its life
cycle. A project must first be "conceived" and articulated as a goal or objective. That goal or
objective must then be "developed" into an agreed set of requirements from which a defined
scope and scope of work can be derived and translated into a viable and doable set of
activities. With appropriate approvals and sufficient time and funding, this plan can then be
"executed". Finally, the project must be properly "finished" with the product successfully
transferred into the care, custody and control of its eventual owners.
Figure 4 and a moment’s thought suggests that the "Concept" period should start out with the
"Explorer" type; proceed to the "Coordinator" type in the "Development" or planning period;
move to an assertive "Driver" type in the "Execution" period; and culminate with the
"Administrator" type in the clean-up "Finishing" period.
Failure to match an appropriate style with the particular project or element can quickly
demoralize the project work force and lead to unsatisfactory project results. Table 5 takes the
same period descriptions shown in Table 3 and illustrates vividly the negative impressions that
can develop when an inappropriate project management style is adopted.

Obviously, we have made some over-simplified generalizations, but there can be no question
that project leadership style and the need for flexibility to suit particular circumstances, must be
an important determinant of project success. The successful development, production and
testing of the largest and most complex aircraft built to date, the Boeing 777, is an instructive
example of most appropriate style of project management.18 Conversely, the infamous
Challenger disaster was perhaps the most vivid project example of the application of
inappropriate management style.19
If, however, our these indications are true, might it be possible to postulate some guiding
relationship such as that shown in Table 6? Based on the observations earlier, this table
suggests that to achieve optimum success, there must be some correlation between the type
of project leader, the type of product and the phase of the project. For example, for established
technology project elements with their shorter-term success goals a low-key or regular
progression through the four project management styles is shown. These compare with those
of higher technology, with their relatively longer-term success goals, and in which the styles of
the explorer and coordinator types need to drive further down through the project life cycle.


Conclusions
In the opinion of the authors, the balance between intellectualism and craftsmanship, that is,
between "brain and brawn" as some might put it, is what determines the most appropriate
management style for producing that element. This recognizes that to attain the highest
potential on a large complex project, one single management style may not be appropriate
throughout the project organization and certainly not through all phases of the project life cycle.
It is evident that failure to match an appropriate style to project circumstances can quickly
demoralize the project work force and lead to unsatisfactory project results.
If further studies can demonstrate some relationships such as those suggested, this could be
invaluable in helping management to design appropriate organizational structures for complex
projects. It could also assist management in assigning the most suitable leadership, given the
necessary force of personality, tenacity and skills, for maximizing the probability of a
successful project outcome.
Thus, it is hoped that the descriptions provided in this paper will help to match style to
circumstances, or at least provide some basis for further study in this vital area.