Project Management Administration


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Program process strategy is not about taking boilerplate plan, process, and structure templates and implementing them. It is about understanding the organizational context and making conscious decisions about what processes (detail, depth, breadth) are required in that context on the basis of the program goals.

Our Guide to Executing the Keys of Program Process Strategy:

Part 1 of 6: Creating Program Culture
Part 2 of 6: How Mentoring Relationships Will Be Established
Part 3 of 6: How Project Managers Are Assigned
Part 4 of 6: How Project Management Administrative Functions Are Assigned
Part 5 of 6: How to Grow Organizational Capabilities by Increasing the Capabilities of Project Managers
Part 6 or 6: How to Balance Process and People

Part 4 of 6: How Project Management Administrative Functions Are Assigned

Project administration functions are different from project management functions. By administration functions I mean inputting the project parameters into the project management software, scheduling meetings, issuing minutes, compiling and expediting all the documentation and deliverables for the project, and providing the obligatory courteous follow-up on late tasks and deliverables. When project managers have to manage projects and perform administrative functions, it is a very tough task because the amount of work involved in administrative functions can be overwhelming. The non-administrative project management functions are much more important. Thus, project managers who have to do both tend to fall behind or ignore or not perform administrative functions, especially since the consequences of doing this are delayed.

The program manager needs to make the strategic decision whether to split the two functions. When the functions are split, you have dedicated project administrators who work for and serve project managers. This means you can heavily invest in tool training for the administrators and make them experts on your project management software and methodology. Relieving project managers of the administrative burdens allows them to work on more projects. Additionally, project administrators can support more than one project manager. The project administrator also frees the project manager from a lot of the time spent generating and updating status. For example, very often, 7 project managers and 3 project administrators accomplish more and provide better customer service than do 10 project managers all doing the project management and the administrative functions.

Project administrators need to be capable and have a customer focus (the project managers are their customer). If you choose not to have separate functions for project administration and project management, consider making a subset of the project managers expert in the project management software tools so that they can serve as mentors to the other project managers.

I was presenting the benefits of the separation of administrative functions and project management functions at a project management professional society chapter meeting when a PMO head of a very large bank said he liked my idea. He also questioned what percentage of organizations actually do this, implying that it was just a theory. I replied by referring to the anonymous electronic polling I conduct at meetings like this, telling him it was about 25 to 35 percent. I then conducted the poll for that group, and 35 percent of the group provided separate administrative support for their project managers. The irony occurred after the meeting when another individual approached me privately with a smile and said he was also a PMO head at the very same bank and they had administrative support for all their project managers. He didn’t want to say it publicly for fear the bank would choose not to replicate his success but instead remove his administrative staff in the interest of short-sighted, hypothetical cost savings.

Once your team has decided on their plan and process, PPM software can help you execute that process. WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.