Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Elizabeth White, Jason Bloomberg, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: Apache, Web 2.0

Apache: Article

Project Management 2.0

Leveraging the Advantages of Top-Down and Bottom-Up

Andrew Filev's Product Management 2.0 Blog

Nowadays we can observe changes going on in management and especially project management in organizations. More and more, organizations are abandoning top-down management style. Among them are the New York Times, Tribune Co., Ernst & Young and many others. Even the world's biggest corporations, such as Toyota and IBM, are trying to implement bottom-up management style elements in some of their departments.

The bottom-up approach to management is becoming more and more popular. However, the discussions about the two major approaches are still hot. What is the reason for the ongoing changes in management processes? The answer to this question will be obvious when we compare the two management styles.

The Top-down Approach to Project Management

Today, many projects are still managed according to the top-down approach. The essence of this approach is that all the directions come from the top. The top management establishes project objectives and provides guidelines, information, plans and fund processes. The manager clearly communicates his expectations to each person who has a role to play in the project. According to advocates of this approach, the managers should be as specific as possible when communicating expectations, since ambiguity opens the door for potential failure. This approach strictly follows a formal process.

The top-down approach is applied in many organizations. Let’s have a look at the New York Times, a leader in the newspaper industry. According to ajr.com (American Journalism Review) several years ago, The Times’ executive management felt that they were doing the opposite of what was needed to create a vibrant workplace and a successful enterprise. They centralized power and implemented overall control among masthead editors. The latter introduced the same management pattern in the projects they were responsible for. Project decisions were influenced by the emotions and opinions of only one person – the project manager. What was the result? People felt that they weren't listened to, that their voices didn't count. There was no effective collaboration between the journalists. They were not morally motivated to do their jobs. The managing executives then realized that the management style should be changed by giving more freedom to the teams. It took a lot of time to introduce a bottom-up approach to management. However, it was worth the time and effort, as the collaboration is now enhanced and teams work more productively.

The problems caused by a top-down approach can be observed in many organizations with a traditional management style. Experience shows that this approach can reduce productivity and cause bottlenecks or so-called lockdowns.  “Lockdown” gives a project manager as much control as possible over his team. This inflexibility can cause unnecessary pain and slow down the project completion.

The Bottom-up Approach to Project Management


All the above mentioned factors can lead projects to failure, and that is why many organizations have turned to a bottom-up management style or at least some of its elements. The New York Times is a good example. Bottom-up management proactively seeks the input of the team in the project executing process. Employees are invited to participate in every step of the process, and the team as a whole agrees on a course of action. This approach allows managers to communicate goals and value, e.g. through milestone planning. Then team members have to develop personal to-do lists with the steps necessary to reach the milestones on their own. It is up to them to choose the methods and ways to perform their tasks.

The advantage of this approach is that it empowers team members to think more creatively. They feel involved into the project development and know that their initiatives are appreciated. The team members’ motivation to work and make the project  a success is increased. Individual members of the team can provide project solutions that are driven more by practical requirements than abstract notions. The planning process flows significantly faster, as it is facilitated by a number of people. The to-do lists of all the team members are collected into the detailed general project plan. Schedules, budgets and results are transparent. Issues are made clear by the project manager to avoid as many  surprises as possible. Bottom-up project management is also a way of coping with the increasing gap between the information necessary to manage knowledge workers and the ability of managers to acquire and apply this information.

However, despite all of the advantages, the bottom-up approach is not the perfect solution, as sometimes it lacks clarity and control. Many experts agree that a bottom-up style alone will not make your projects flourish. A wise project manager will take the best practices from the two approaches and try to create a hybrid method.

Taking the Best from the Two Approaches

Would it be possible to effectively introduce the best bottom-up practices to an organization by utilizing  traditional tools? Traditional project management software was mostly designed with the top-down approach in mind and are not meant for the bottom-up management. This software is complex and hard to master. This software is focused on the project manager and place him or her in the center or the project. Team members very often do not have access to the project plan and cannot make contributions. The employees send their updates to the project manager in disconnected files via e-mail. The project manager then collects all the data and puts the information manually into  the project plan. Then he or she communicates the changes to the upper management. The misalignment between the bottom-up best principles and the old tools causes a  situation where the project manager's talents often are buried by the routine work. The amount of  mechanical control/synchronization work sometimes does not leave time for leadership.

The old methods of how people share and receive information have been radically transformed in the recent times. Now there are more means for the successful implementation of the bottom-up management best practices. These means are Enterprise 2.0 technologies – wikis, blogs, and collaboration tools. They come into organizations and change the original way of executing projects. They turn traditional project management into Project Management 2.0 and bring new patterns of collaboration, which are based on collective intelligence. Collective intelligence is a collection of valuable knowledge from different fields that each project team member is an expert in. This knowledge is now successfully collected and shared in a flexible, collaborative environment brought by second-generation project management software. The project manager is the one to conduct the work and choose the right direction for the project development, based on the information received from the individual employees.

Thus, the part the project manager plays in the project changes. Project Management 2.0 software helps him or her create complete delegation. It means that people become less dependent on the manager as a to-do generator. Rather than a taskmaster, he or she turns into a project leader who facilitates the team communications, provides a creative working environment and guides the team. He or she becomes a visionary who can leverage the  team strengths and weaknesses and adjust project development to the external changes. Individual team members still have the freedom and responsibility to find their way to the next milestone.

The second-generation tools allow you to merge the advantages of the two initial management approaches. These tools let project managers combine control and collaboration, clarity of project goals and visibility of internal organizational processes. 

img

Thousands of companies now confirm that bottom-up project management, implemented with the help of Enterprise 2.0 tools, improved their business performance. Among them are Bell Canada, Sun and Yahoo. They created corporate blogs to streamline project communications. Even giants, such as IBM, realize the benefits of allowing contributors to have a more active hand in how collaborative work is organized.

My conclusion will be that democratizing project management is never an end in itself. The primary goal is always to find ways to make project management and project collaboration more efficient. New technologies applied to projects offer us the ability  to make projects more successful and teams more productive. The projects are delivered much more rapidly, and this is to everyone’s benefit.


[This article appeared orignally here and is reproduced in full here by kind permission of the author.]

More Stories By Andrew Filev

Since 2001, Andrew Filev has been managing software teams in a global environment. His technical expertise and his management vision are reflected in online and offline articles that have had hundreds of thousands of readers. His ideas on new trends in project management are published in his blog www.wrike.com/projectmanagement.htm. He has given speeches on new trends in project management and deployment of the next-generation, Web-based applications on deferent events, including the PMI Silicon Valley Tools and Techniques Forum and the Office 2.0 Conference (Project Management panel). Filev's innovative ideas and passion to improve project management tools are applied in Wrike, a leading online project management solution which he now leads the company as a founder and CEO. He graduated from St. Petersburg State University and the Stockholm School of Economics. He also received the honored award of Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP).

Comments (3) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Anonymoussd 12/05/08 03:00:51 AM EST

http://wireless.sys-con.com/user

Anonymoussd 12/05/08 03:00:40 AM EST

http://wireless.sys-con.com/user

PM Hut 07/09/08 06:26:39 AM EDT

Here's a complementary article on [http://www.pmhut.com/the-mini-project-manager-concept The benefits of the bottom-up approach in Project Management].

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
SYS-CON Events announced today that Litmus Automation will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Litmus Automation’s vision is to provide a solution for companies that are in a rush to embrace the disruptive Internet of Things technology and leverage it for real business challenges. Litmus Automation simplifies the complexity of connected devices applications with Loop, a secure and scalable cloud platform.
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of Cloud and Mobile Strategy at GENBAND, will explore what is needed to take a real time communications ...
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being software-defined – from our phones and cars through our washing machines to the datacenter. However, there are larger challenges when implementing software defined on a larger scale - when building software defined infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool, will provide some practical insights on what, how and why when implementing "software-defined" in the datacenter.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, will discuss how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust I...
Wearable technology was dominant at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , and MWC was no exception to this trend. New versions of favorites, such as the Samsung Gear (three new products were released: the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit), shared the limelight with new wearables like Pebble Time Steel (the new premium version of the company’s previously released smartwatch) and the LG Watch Urbane. The most dramatic difference at MWC was an emphasis on presenting wearables as fashion accessories and moving away from the original clunky technology associated with t...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
The WebRTC Summit 2015 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microservices, and more.
The list of ‘new paradigm’ technologies that now surrounds us appears to be at an all time high. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT), today we have to deal with what the industry likes to call ‘paradigm shifts’ at every level of IT. This is disruption; of course, we understand that – change is almost always disruptive.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud.
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.