Project Management

How High Should the PM Fly?

Al Taylor is an independent IT contractor in Ontario, Canada.

A common and useful way to describe the level of interest that a stakeholder has in a project is to apply a metaphor involving flight and altitude, specifically: “What level is the stakeholder flying at?” Is it 50,000 feet? 40,000 feet?

Today it appears that many project managers are flying at ever-increasing heights. These higher altitudes are perhaps caused by the significant levels of governance and scrutiny that projects encounter today. Given that executive-level stakeholders with the power to influence the project tend to fly at these heights, it is appropriate for the project manager to join them at these levels.

There is a risk, however, that the PM who flies at too high an altitude for extended periods of time will lose sight of the day-to-day activities of the project team and the day-to-day rewards that are experienced (or not experienced) by team members and the team as a whole. These are critical project variables because the product will be delivered successfully when skilled, committed, energized and focused resources who understand the value of their project efforts complete well-defined tasks on time; these are project variables that need to be managed with significant rigor.

A lack of attention to task management, resource allocation and team morale can result in problematic resource-related scenarios such as: working on the wrong …


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