Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

E2E Project Managers Are the Key to Ensuring the Delivery of Strategic Projects

~ By Abid Mustafa

Project manager pointing at resources on a chart

Companies spend a lot of time and effort establishing PMOs and devising project methodologies that enable them to deliver their strategic initiatives. Often, such initiatives span the length and breadth of the organisation, are complex in nature and are extremely cross-functional in their implementation. It is common for such projects to run across three domains namely: Commercial, Technology and Support. This poses a great challenge for executives in appointing the right type of project manager to take the helm of responsibility and delivery. This naturally leads to a typical discussion about how such projects should be organised. Figure 1.0 illustrates a common project organisational chart that is used to deliver end-to-end (E2E) initiatives.

Diagram showing a line project manager leading an E2E project
Figure 1.0. A line project manager leading an E2E project.

Executives quickly realise (some after repeated failure) that existing project managers that reside in line functions, are limited in their ability and knowledge to deliver initiatives that run E2E. At this juncture, various models are discussed and debated. These include:

Line Project Managers to Run E2E Initiatives

The problem associated with line project managers delivering E2E initiatives is that they possess deep knowledge about their function, but run into difficulties when they work in other domains. Additionally, such project managers always suffer from a personality/credibility image and employees in other functions do not take them seriously. For instance commercial project managers maybe apt at ensuring that functions such as products, marketing, sales, legal, etc. are provided with not only the requisite support, but also fall in line when required. However, such project managers struggle when dealing with IT. They do not understand the technical parlance, possess the skills to challenge IT staff, or are even familiar with the working of the internal IT departments with its myriad of vendors. Conversely, the same is applicable to the IT project manager. Hence project delivery becomes fragmented and the overall project experience for the executive team suffers.

Depending on the nature of the project, a common remedy employed is to appoint two project managers, where one takes the lead and the other one supports. In some companies the supporting project manager is also referred to as the 'subject matter expert' or SME. This is shown in Figure 1.1.

Diagram of a line project manager supported by a functional project manager in delivering an E2E project
Figure 1.1. Line project manager supported by a functional project manager in delivering an E2E project.

However, this type of arrangement is fraught with leadership issues and project teams can easily become fractured by taking sides with one of the two project managers, thereby jeopardising the delivery times of the project and can also lead to further stoppages.

Other companies may seek to bolster the abilities of their line project managers by providing them with extra project management training as well as domain specific skills. This process can be painstakingly slow and depends upon the maturity of the organisation, its budgets and time.

Centralised Pool of Project Managers to Deliver E2E Initiatives

Another way of delivering E2E initiatives is to establish and nurture a 'small pool' of dedicated E2E project managers who are well conversant with all the domains of the corporate business and have excellent project management skills. The centralised E2E pool of project managers should reside within the Executive Programme Management Office (EPMO) and have the support of the executive team. Figure 1.2 depicts the organisational structure of the project hierarchy.

Diagram of a E2E project manager leading the project team
Figure 1.2. E2E project manager leading the project team.

The main advantage of this approach is the 'perceived neutrality' E2E project manager brings within the organisation as he/she is viewed not to be aligned with a particular department. This together with the support of the executive team becomes indispensable in building cross-functional project teams. Nevertheless, it can be argued that such an approach can take accountability away from the line functions and any failure will be quickly apportioned to the E2E project manager. Concerns of such nature can be overcome by ensuring that accountabilities and responsibilities are clearly laid out at the inception of the project. Executives should be held accountable for the realisation of the benefits, where as the E2E project manager is accountable for the delivery of outcomes and capabilities. The project steering committee should oversee that the accountability is correctly assigned and intervene if any deviation is noticed.

In summary, the appointment of an E2E project manager is essential to ensure that the E2E project is delivered successfully. It is up to executives to decide, which approach to they should employ when faced with the challenges of E2E projects.


Abid Mustafa is a seasoned professional with 18 years' experience in the IT and Telecommunications industry, specialising in enhancing corporate performance through the establishment and operation of executive PMOs and delivering tangible benefits through the management of complex transformation programmes and projects. Currently he is working as a director of corporate programmes for a leading telecoms operator in the MENA region.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
What is the month after April?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

A Tale of Two Projects

Two serious businessmen working with a tablet computer

A business tale of what it takes to turn around troubled projects. How did PintCo recover their Customer Master File project when everything was going in the wrong direction.

Project Planning Essentials

Tablet computer with project manager app and documents with Gantt and financial charts

Planning a project requires putting a series of tasks in order and determining dependencies between them. In practice it's never so straightforward.

Helping Project Teams Succeed

Business team brainstorming using coloured labels on a table in an office

Project teams will be successful when the right environmental conditions exist; sadly this is not always the case.

How Agile Practices Reduce Requirements Risks

Road warning sign - Risks Ahead

Every software project carries some risk, but many of these risks can be mitigated. That's true of problems related to product requirements.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Allana commented on…
12 Tips for Being a Good Manager
- Tue 5 January 8:30pm

George Bockius commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Thu 24 December 3:55pm

Al commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Tue 22 December 10:07pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Query on PMP Numericals https://t.co/yTDB5rdr6m about 4 days ago

General Project Management • Problems With Project Planning https://t.co/InNdiqxSfD about 4 days ago

General Project Management • IT project management phrases - 10 terms you need to know https://t.co/0ThVkIz5JU https://t.co/AqimD0V75x about 11 days ago