Table of Contents
Project Management Basics
Complex project management is an essential skill for today's purchasing and supply management professional. Providing and maintaining a balance of technical expertise and strong leadership on the project team can mean the difference between success and failure. Increasingly, purchasing and supply professionals are being asked to participate in and lead project teams in the following areas:
Skills Required to Lead a Successful Project
A project leader, in order to have credibility among team members, must have a strong working knowledge of the technical aspects of the task. Technical expertise alone, however, is not a guarantee of project success. In fact, real-world experience suggests that more projects fail due to lack of proper leadership than a lack of technical expertise. A supply management professional who is asked to lead a project should be able to develop a realistic process flowchart and timetable that meets stated strategic and cost objectives supported by upper management. This individual must be a good negotiator and consensus-builder: many projects are destined to fail due to a lack of negotiating final objectives, timing, and/or cost concerns up front. Likewise, lack of strong communication and people skills on the part of the team leader can be a sign of early doom. As an example, see the box below.
The Project Plan
In medium or large projects especially, a project plan should be documented. Remember that the purpose of the plan is to accurately reflect the commitment of all process owners to the project objective. Plans that are developed without team participation, or for the purpose of simply satisfying a request from upper management, are not likely to yield favorable project results. Ideally the plan should, at a minimum, establish acceptance criteria including milestones toward the final goal. The level of detail in the plan will vary among organizations and projects.
Project Organization and Management
Once the work breakdown has been defined, it is used as an input, along with historical information or past experience, to define specific activities necessary to meet project objectives. The project team and support staff must be organized and tools for monitoring and communication must be established.
Mark A. Crowder, C.P.M.
Mark Crowder is a supply management specialist with John Deere & Co. He has worked for 13 years in the purchasing and materials management field, having held positions of purchasing manager, materials manager, and buyer. Mr. Crowder is currently a member of NAPM's National Ethical Standards Committee. He has served in his local affiliate, NAPM—Chattanooga, Inc. for eight years including two terms as president. He earned his C.P.M. in 1990 and receritfied in 1995. He has co-authored articles for Purchasing Today® magazine, and other publications.
- Ackoff, R., Creating the Corporate Future, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1981
- Badiru, A. and Pulat, P., Comprehensive Project Management, Prentice Hall PTR, 1995
- Brooks, F., The Mythical Man-Month, Addison-Wesley, 1995
- Goldratt, E., The Critical Chain, The North River Press, 1997
- Kerzner, H., Project Management, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989
- Rosenau, M., Successful Project Management, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992
- Rowe, K., "Take Your Time!" Purchasing Today®, May 1998
- Silverman, M., Project Management: A Short Course for Professionals, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1984
FOR FURTHER READING
- Forsberg, K., Mooz, H., and Cotterman, H., Visualizing Project Management, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1996
- Clark, T., "Enhancing Teamwork with Project Management," Purchasing Today®, October 1997
- Parsons, G., "Leading Cross Functional Teams: A Software Success Story," 81st Annual International Conference Proceedings, 1996
- Project Management Institute, www.pmi.org
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