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Project Management Processes in an Organization

Your company, HLR Inc., is about to implement a major initiative that will impact many aspects of the organization and will have a significant cost. This is the largest project ever undertaken by the company and must be completed within 18 months. It will involve the people at headquarters, as well as, two remote sites, one of which is in a foreign country. It will be led by the Information Technology (IT) organization. You have been assigned to lead the entire project.

Until recently, HLR has not been disciplined in project management. In the past, IT projects have not been completed within budget or on time. While you have the support of the CIO, who understands the value of project management, not all the business units that will be affected by this project share this understanding. For many of them, project management is viewed as limiting and unnecessary. You know that one of your first major battles will be to get the business unit and IT managers to understand your role and the value you bring to the organization.

Implementing this project, Standard Customer Relationship Management Processes, involves business process re-engineering and a large system implementation. Staff resources have been allocated for this project from IT and from the following major business units:

Sales (Chicago HQ, Zurich): Establishes and maintains the relationship with the customer. Needs to be aware of the status of product orders and customer problems.
Product Fulfillment (Denver, Zurich): Takes and fills customer orders. Makes changes to customer information if notified.
Customer Service (Denver): Resolves problems with orders, shipping, and invoicing. Makes changes to customer information.
Billing (Chicago HQ): Deals with invoice issues and follow-ups. Makes changes to customer information. Provides financial information to sales and executive management.
Marketing (Chicago HQ): Reviews sales data and determines marketing opportunities.

Currently, each business unit uses a different information system and set of manual processes. Customer information is stored in several databases and is not consistent across systems. Marketing must gather information from multiple systems and does not feel that the data is very accurate. Significant business opportunities are lost consistently due to these data problems.

Organizationally, there are not deep skills available to complete this project. The software vendor to be selected will need to provide many of the technical staff, since IT has focused solely on maintaining legacy systems in the past. The current business unit managers are primarily responsible for defining new processes and data requirements, and are not very knowledgeable about the business processes. They do not realize that knowledge is owned by the lower-level staff members who execute the daily tasks.

During annual strategic planning, senior management identified this project as critical for the entire organization. HLR has experienced a 25% growth in sales over the past year. Growth for the next year is hoped to be over 35%. Growth will be achieved through targeting new markets, international expansion and the introduction of several new products. To achieve this growth, aggressive marketing and realistic, accurate data is needed to achieve the goals.

The topic is gaining credibility among the non-project managers in a company. How important is it for a project manager to be an expert in the subject matter of the project? Must an IT project manager be an expert in the technology that is being implemented? Be prepared to support your position, whether you agree or disagree.

Solution Preview

It is extremely important for a project manager to be an expert or at least very knowledgeable about the subject matter of the project. Although it is is necessary for the project managers to possess a wide variety of other soft skills as well, such as communication skills, managerial skills, people skills, etc., it is extremely important that the project manager should possess hands on experience in the core subject of the project being handled by him.

This is necessary to ensure that the project manager understands all the components of the project very well. In other words, the domain expertise in the core subject matter of the project will allow the project manager to manage all aspects of the projects effectively and understand the importance of each interrelated component of the project. The knowledge about the subject matter will allow the project manager to ascertain all the critical success factors for the project in advance and will help him in devising the best possible course of action for completing the project successfully.

Further, such knowledge and experience about the subect matter will be of great ...

Solution Summary

How important is it for a project manager to be an expert in the subject matter of the project? Must an IT project manager be an expert in the technology that is being implemented? The solution answers in 733 words.