Who is your project architect?

It may seem strange question so let me explain.

When I am working with groups I encourage them to talk about their project problems. We can cover a very wide range of issues and what gets a regular mention are areas such as project management roles, stakeholder management and the need for an overall project management process for delivering projects. 

For these people, when projects are established, it looks as though no one seems to be looking at the overall project management lifecycle and decision making. The project architect is the person who ensures that the above issues are effectively dealt with. (NO, I am not suggesting a new role in project management. What I am suggesting is that someone takes a helicopter view and ensures that the project is set up correctly.)

Drawing the project structure adds to confusion.

I often ask questions about project management structures and in some cases, I ask them to draw out the project structure on a flipchart. The result: more confusion.

These projects are not large. They maybe span several months and involve a number of key stakeholder groups but little time seems to be invested in looking at their structure.

Look what happened on a recent course!

Now all of the above was written just before I tutored on a recent project management course there were 9 people on this course and the group started to talk about some of their project management problems which included:

• having a 40 strong project board!!

• a change team was created and put in 2 months before the end of the project but should have been working in the project a long time before this

• there was confusion over who the project sponsor was

So, where is your project architect? This is the person who asks the awkward questions such as who is the project sponsor? Do we need a project board and if yes, what role do they play? They also ask what is the overall structure for the project and does it help in the decision making process or, does it hinder. Of course, they need to be asking questions about risk, the business case, benefits management.

These are just a few of the many questions your project architect asks. Any more??

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2 Responses to Who is your project architect?

  1. Good post, Ron. Well, my understanding is that the project manager should also be the “project architect”, who else? And I would be surprised if you found out that there is often nobody looking at project org chart, roles and responcibilities, how project is set up and organized, etc. What is the project manager doing then?

    • Your right of course Stan. However…I also feel that senior managers need to understand the need for an overarching architecture. Some projects are complex enough without imposing a 40 person project board onto it (I had one yesterday with a group where the Board were 30 people and they direction of the project seemed to swing wildly around the 360 degree mark). This suggests to me a lack of education at senior management level.

      The project manager should put their head above the parapet however needs to be supported by senior managers.


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