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ASK OCE — February 23, 2007 — Vol. 2, Issue 2


Successful project managers understand the importance of never losing sight of the goals of senior management.

The standard trio of project management concerns is cost, schedule, and technical performance. What project managers often overlook, however, is that their senior management has a different vantage point that emphasizes the customer and the organization as a whole, says Hugh Woodward of Macquarie Advanced Business Concepts.

Woodward, former CEO of Project Management Institute, cites Dr. Aaron Shenhar’s four dimensions of project success — project efficiency, impact of the customer, business success, and planning for the future — as the definition of success within a strategic management framework, which is the level on which senior management operates. Cost, schedule, and technical performance appear as elements of a larger picture.

The project manager’s challenge, Woodward says, is to remember that in the private sector senior management focuses on revenue, profit, and shareholder value. Within NASA’s context as a government agency, the values are different, but rough analogies can be drawn to “federal budget,” “mission success,” and “value to the public.” Given this senior management frame of reference, Woodward says the project manager should try to 1) understand senior management’s goals for the project, 2) understand why the project was selected, and 3) position the project to exceed those expectations.

With a good understanding of senior management’s motivations, Woodward suggests that project managers should be prepared to make bold, data-driven suggestions to their superiors when the going gets tough: offer a faster schedule at a higher cost, recommend additional scope at higher cost, offer delays to accelerate other projects, or even recommend cancellation when it is the wisest option in relation to organizational priorities

In This Issue

Message from the Chief Engineer

NASA on the Hill: Marburger Testifies on R&D Budget

This Week in NASA History: Discoverer 1

PM Challenge Executive Leadership Roundup

What’s Ahead for Project Management: A Roundtable Discussion with PMI

22nd Annual George M. Low Awards: Presented at PM Challenge 2007

Integrating Risk and Knowledge Management in ESMD

Hugh Woodward on Surprising Keys to Project Success

What’s the Situation?

Let’s Talk Risk Management

APPEL Masters Forum: Call for Nominees and Speakers

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