The Formal and Informal Aspects of Project Management

Project-ManagementThere are two main types of project management: formal and informal. Formal project management supposes generating of well-crafted plans and implementing them while informal management is concerned with coordination and motivation of staff to achieve general objectives

Formal project management

Formal project management involves strategic planning of projects, which is followed by the associated project control measures.

It seeks to address several questions:

– What are the main tasks of the business?

– Which are the priority tasks that must be completed?

– Are there specific skills required in order to complete the tasks?

– Who is responsible for the tasks and how much time should be taken?

– How long is the entire project supposed to take considering the people available for it? Is that in line with the company target? What can be done to achieve the project within the required time frame

– What is the total cost of the project? Project price estimation can be difficult especially if you do not know the exact requirements. However, with formal project management, you can make estimates based on different parameters and come up with a reliable project control measure.

Project implementation is usually done through project control. This is a stepwise process that is concerned with the following features

– Evaluating the current stand of the project

– Making judgements based on the status of the project including adjusting the implementation time frame

– Evaluating the cost incurred so far in the project

– Evaluating the significant assignments on a weekly basis

– Assessment of the team to find out if there is anyone who needs help and guidance.

Through project control, companies can cope with general problems such as:

– Reassignment of the available work when some employees are removed in such a way that it’s done as quickly as possible

– Routine project evaluation to assess the performance position of the company. If a project had been assigned 200 hours and 150 hours are already gone but the project is only halfway, what can be done to meet the deadline?

Informal project management

Unlike formal project management where issues can be assessed using critical path analysis approach, informal project management is concerned with building intuitive relationships among the organization’s employees. It seeks to address the following issues

– Evaluating the reliability of the employee’s estimates

– Motivating employees to work harder and achieve results faster

– Evaluating the skills of the personnel to know who needs formal training in some areas

– Routine evaluation of the overall morale of the team

You can use quantitative information to make some judgements in informal project management. For instance, you can use the actual time that an employee took to do an assignment to judge his past and make estimates about his general performance. The performance history of individual employees is a great tool for evaluating their future performance. The skills of formal project management can be used to improve and support informal project management, although they cannot substitute intuition or judgement.

While both formal and informal project management are powerful tools in managing projects, individuals who are proficient with formal project management may lack good interpersonal skills. Similarly, those proficient in informal project management could be impatient with efforts involved in developing business plans and constantly revising them as the project unfolds. While formal project management can be learned, informal management cannot. Someone is either good at it or not.

Many organizations operate through formal project management and are hence under pressure to find talented people in informal project management to supplement their formal strategy. In some cases, companies provide specialist staff members to help project managers with planning and control.

One Comment

  1. I disagree that what you describe as informal project management can not be learned. I have done quite a bit of mentoring and coaching and will agree it may take longer and require some behavior change but it can be learned.

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