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So I have recently taken on a role of Business Analyst for a Software team, and I am currently the only 'Project Management' to speak of. My company had a Project Manager before, but it was mostly just a title.

Now with some recently organizational changes I am being moved under a QA manager to report directly to him.

I have been attempting to find reasoning as to why this is a bad move, and I believe that I should be separate from the development and QA teams mostly as I believe that Project Management will take a backseat with this move, and that he will focus primarily on QA. The problem is that I don't have a lot of ammunition, and have struggling to find articles that address this specifically.

Help?

  • Andrew, welcome to PMSE! Any thoughts as to what management thinking was in moving you under a QA manager? What did the memo say or what did they say when they told you? – Mark Phillips Jun 11 '14 at 2:08
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A reference generally accepted in project Management is the "PMBOK" issued by PMI Which does cover the question about PMO and organizational structures.

However, there seem to be a mountain of confusion regarding roles and responsibilities in your organisation. BA and PM for a start are very different roles. Although it can make sense for a BA to report to QA, for PM it is much less common.

That seems to indicate that there is a gap between what you perceive your job to be and what your management thinks.

  • So I do think there is a lot of confusion on the process, but we are just sort of getting into the software development field. To give you an idea, we have about 5 developers, and 5 QA's total. We have a dev manager and an IT manager. Aside from me that is all of our development team. The QA manager is coming in to take over the QA's, but now I'm getting tucked in there as well. Now I come from an organization that had its own PM 'department' so to speak, that BA's and Project Managers had their own reporting structure, and that seemed to go very well. But not this company – Andrew Jun 10 '14 at 17:10
  • Ghaag nailed the two main points: 1) PMO would be the 'PM Department' 2) there's a clear clash of roles on the company. – Tiago Cardoso Jun 11 '14 at 10:56
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Creating silos in your organization along non-value delivery lines is almost always a bad thing. You're essentially informing your employees that optimizing their piece of the value-delivery stream is where they should focus their efforts, rather than focusing on delivering value to your customer.

Should you be your own reporting tree? No. Should you fall under the QA reporting stream? No. You should fall under the value delivery reporting stream.

Edit for clarification The typical strategy is to split your organization into functional silos, i.e. we have a QA department, an IT department, a PMO etc. This method is inherently flawed, as it gives incentive for each department to optimize their limited scope of responsibility at the expense of the flow of value through the system. For example, optimizing QA efficiency almost always leads to longer cycle times.

The more intelligent way is to create a value-driven reporting structure where each department is responsible for the complete delivery of a unit of value. If you want a concrete example of a large organization that is doing this, check out this video from Spotify: http://labs.spotify.com/2014/03/27/spotify-engineering-culture-part-1/

  • Color me confused. Can you give me an example of what you mean? – Andrew Jun 10 '14 at 19:47
  • Please let me know if my edit helps. – Andrew Clear Jun 11 '14 at 18:45
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Based on your comment, I don't think you need to have a PM and a QA manager for a total of 5 devs and 5 QAs.

Regarding separation of teams, in general, every team tends to worry only about itself. It puts itself ahead of other teams. This is called local optimization and it exists to a lesser or greater extent in all organizations. Therefore it is better to have that map to business outcomes (e.g. a department per product) than those that map to internal functions (e.g. project management, development, testing etc).

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The PMBoK has an entire section on Organizational Structures so if you can either buy a copy or find a library with a copy, you can get some valuable information.

Specific to this question, it sounds like your organization was and continues to move toward being a Functional organization. In a functional organization, the Project Management role has little power or authority over things such as budget, schedule, and resource management. Project coordination happens at the function-head level and each department pursues project management independently.

For some businesses, that approach may be just fine but it does make cross-department coordination slower and less reactive. I like the description posted at PM-Primer.com:

This type of organisation structure is sometimes called a stove pipe type of organisation.... Problems occur when one function employee needs to speak to another functions employee.

The only way to do this is to escalate upwards to the functional head, then across to the other functional head, and back down again.

Effectively, project management only occurs under the functional manager and cross-team projects are a nightmare.

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I personally think there is not an issue if the quality assurance (QA) department and the project management office (PMO) are reporting to a single manager, as long as they have very clear job responsibilities. For value streaming, both the roles can fit into that without disturbing the reporting lines again as long as their job responsibilities are very clear.

Now, let's look at it from a different perspective. By doing so, is there any chance of creating a conflict of interest? The answer is 'no'. Both the roles are quite different and you need to have clear goals and objectives for both QA and the PMO.

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