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Project Management vs. Management

        posted by , April 06, 2013

In a universe of exotic job titles it's hard to know where everyone fits in.

Management job titles are sometimes so useless that they're funny. For example, one regional sales manager of a global electronics firm achieved the lofty title "General Manager of Europe".

Beyond job titles, there are dozens of distinct management disciplines.

This is a particular challenge for project managers who must identify and manage stakeholders for projects.

Project managers work with program, functional, risk, quality, knowledge and change managers. This is confusion prone since project managers also manage risk, quality, knowledge and change from a project perspective.

The following reference illustrates how common management functions fit into your projects.

Project Management vs. Program Management

Program management is more than the control of a portfolio of projects. It's the management of a set of objectives that may continue indefinitely and include a long sequence of projects.

Program management is similar to running a division of an organization. The performance of a program may be measured quarterly as part of the organization's quarterly financial management.

The skills required of a program manager resemble executive management skills.

In many cases, a program manager sponsors a project or is a central stakeholder. It's not unusual for a team of project managers to report to a program manager.

Project Management vs. Functional Management

Functional managers are responsible for an ongoing mission and set of objectives. For example, managing a sales team or technology area.

People on your team may report to your project for a time but report to their functional manager on an ongoing basis. A functional manager may balance the demands upon his/her resources between various projects and ongoing activities.

Project managers work with functional managers to secure resources. Functional managers may also sponsor projects or have a stake in the project as it impacts their functional area.

Project Management vs. Risk Management

Risk managers apply many of the same principles that are applied to project risk management at the organizational (or functional) level.

As you might imagine, they are highly specialized into various types of risk. For example, risk managers may focus on a particular type of financial risk (e.g. liquidity risk).

Risk managers may be interested in the risk impact of your project on the organization as whole. In some cases, they aren't interested in your project risks themselves.

For example, a risk manager at an investment bank may be responsible for how a new financial product impacts the organization's risk models and controls.

Project Management vs. Knowledge Management

Knowledge management is the practice of identifying, creating, communicating, socializing, measuring and improving knowledge to support strategic objectives.

Knowledge managers may be interested in integrating the knowledge created by your project into these processes. It's recommended to engage knowledge management early in project initiation and follow whatever standards and processes are in place. Failure to align to an organization's knowledge management practices can cause plenty of project issues.

Project Management vs. Quality Management

Quality management controls the quality of an organization's processes, products and services.

Quality managers may be interested in any quality disruptions (or risks of disruptions) your project may cause. They may also be interested in the quality of processes and products your project creates or improves.

Project Management vs. Change Management

Change management is a wide variety of things. You're probably familiar with project change management. Teams and departments also implement change management processes to control change in their environments. In many cases, these processes are somewhat similar to project change management.

Technology teams in particular tend to have formalized processes for managing change requests (e.g. ITIL change management). It's important to factor these processes into your plans.

Organizational change management is another type of change management altogether. It's focused on clearing barriers to large organizational changes.

Organizational change managers are responsible for the people side of change. They seek a corporate culture that's innovative and accepting of change. It's an organizational function that typically operates as an executive management or human resources program.

Organizational change management may help to drive projects forward. In practice, they are often most interested in large and high priority projects.

Where project change management is focused on controlling change to a project — organizational change management aggressively pushes change forward.

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