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Multifunctional Project Management

Present organizations are forced to invest increasingly more of their resources in strategic jobs in a race to keep the upper hands over opponents and increase their value, be it for their owners, their shareholders, their customers, their employees or society as a whole.

Inside the new economy sectors (biotech, telecom, IT, e-business, and so forth ), "mixed" organizations, executing as much activities or more activities on the project aspect than on the traditional/operational functional side of their businesses, are now being more and more included in the advancement job offices, program management systems, portfolio management and "gating" processes, strategic project management organizational structures etc.

Actually more traditional manufacturing organizations are forced, by global competition and time-to-market challenges achievable products, to commit in strategic projects to keep their edge. When doing so, they have to reconcile a strong functional culture with the peculiar needs of providing through unique, "one-time only" projects. In this situation, these organizations are also developing their versions of project portfolio management systems, "gating" processes, project support offices, sometimes in an atmosphere of great anxiety. This is particularly true of those organizations who still have to maintain a strong functional culture while, at the same time, committing more and more time and resources to project initiatives. (2)

Will you recognize your business environment? I believe these words still define appropriately our turbulent times. This kind of turbulence has even increased often in certain circumstances. Projects and recurring businesses are so entwined together nowadays, that both functional order and the chaos of change coexist in most working situations.

Among my clients recently informed me that:

"There are so many projects in our firm that it is a challenge everyday to both realize those projects and do our operational work properly. Whenever we compare our current businesses to the action of generating a car, those jobs make us feel as if we have to replace the car engine while still proceeding at full speed with our car ride"

All of these assignments still cause much misunderstandings in organisations, almost all of them having yet to do place a proper corporate job portfolio management system; that is, from my findings and experiences, the actuality of almost all the organizations I came across. Essentially, I found the pursuing project environment in those organisations:

Upper managers do not agree with the quantity of projects taking place in their organisation, estimations often differing by a factor of 10
12 months after year, most professionals complain that they have too many projects to realise (they are understaffed)
The syndrome of  < <the Project of the Day> >  is ever present, new important matters taking over current ones
Resources are spent on tasks which may have little or no value for the organisation
A whole lot of efforts are put in on starting projects that wrap up never being completed
Amidst all this misunderstandings, this multi-project environment has additionally created a new kind of project management fact that of the or perhaps project manager working with a part-time project team.

The things i are going to say now is not the consequence of a formal analyze (which will be done in the near future), but rather a generally conservative measure of the "Project Age" dynamics, depending on informal surveys. Again and again in the firms I worked for as an external project management coach and in the workshops I have given to numerous project team members from all types of firms, I have received the next answers when I asked of the project-related circumstances:

Approximately just one person away of 15 (7%) works full time as a project manager
Out of people who work full time as a project director, only 1 out of 10 works on just one project at a given time (so one particular out of 150 people, less than 0, seven percent, manage projects are a full time project director on a single project)
149 people out of 150 (99, 3%) work on many projects at the same time, only 10 of those doing only project work.
The left over 140 people (94%) work both on recurring functions in a traditional efficient role and on many projects as well
More than 75% of those selected work on more that 5 projects at the same time, 20% acknowledging to work simultaneously on an unbelievable 10+ tasks simultaneously (while doing frequent work at the same time)
The vast vast majority of those projects are multi-functional, meaning that a huge area of the project team really does not range from same functional department as the project manager, hence do not report to the same functional boss.


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