The Project Management Project (B7)

The PPA Schema


Figure 2.2 PPA Schema

Orchestrating principle.  The PPA philosophy takes a holistic approach to the management of projects.  It emphasizes the organizational, procedural and executive facets of a firm’s corporate makeup.  In PPA, project management is much more than plans, processes and procedures, as shown in Figure 2.2.  The success of a project requires a thorough integration of these facets (delivery, execution, people, mechanics and mechanisms (M&M), development and returns-on-investment (ROI), working in harmony to achieve the profitably performing asset.   Failings from any one of these six facets are harbingers of a potential failure of the project.

The PPA schema transforms into a corporate management system (the PPAMS) that can be deployed within a firm as an operating principle for all project endeavor.  The system is comprised of five pillars: (1) the primes, (2) risk management, (3) mechanics and mechanisms (M&M), (4) Framework and (5) Investment-centric project management (ICPM).

The primes.  The Primes are the PPA directives (collectively known as the group of seven) that form the cadre of governance over the behavior, interactions and motivations of the people involved in a project, within an owner’s firm.  They apply universally within the firm, and equally to the owner, executive, managers and project personnel.

  • Prime purpose. The project serves a singular purpose: to develop a profitably performing asset.
  • Prime directive. Do right by the project in all discussions, considerations and decisions.  Between egos and the project, the project must win.  Execute against the constraint diamond (Figure 1.2)
  • Prime principle. Direct accountability, embodied in the directrix, governs the relationships between project participants (see chapter 5).
  • Prime mindset. Manage by getting to no as the starting position, considering the budget as the investment vehicle to realize the asset.  The budget is invested, not spent (see chapter 6).
  • Prime execution. Progress all work incrementally, taking care of completing each task fully before moving on to the next one (see chapter 12).
  • Prime tool. The Unit Transformation Process (see chapter 3)
  • Prime control. Trust but check rather than ubiquitous review and approve, in accordance with the accountability maturity model (see chapter 6).  Generate execution performance data in real time, using the collection substrate (see chapter 15) and the performance assessment metrics (see chapter 10) to measure progress.

Risk management.  In PPA, risks are classified in several groups that will be addressed in context in future articles.  Some risks fall under the purview of the owner, others to the Framework and the project manager, and others still to vendors and suppliers.  Regardless of oversight ownership, all personnel involved in a project must be aware of their existence and understand the ramifications of these risks roaming unfettered.

Mechanics and mechanisms (M&M).  We will call M&M the set of processes, procedures, templates, standards, directives and other like-minded prescriptive tools and techniques that exist within an owner’s organization, and available to the project team to execute its work.  In most instances, the M&Ms are developed, controlled and maintained by groups or departments that are independent of project execution (think engineering, procurement, accounting, inventory control, for instance). In other cases, M&Ms may be developed specifically by a project team for its project.  In all instances, they are directly associated with the lessons learned mechanics.

Framework.  The Framework is a functional structure created by the owner to oversee a portfolio of projects, and see to it that they are executed uniformly, consistently and profitably.  The Framework oversees the all-important project ecosystem (PECO), which will be discussed later.

Investment-centric project management (ICPM).  The final pillar concerns the activation of the plans, strategies and execution work required to develop the asset, embodied in ICPM.  The ICPM approach can be applied to any project within an organization, as long as the first two pillars are already in place.  One does not require the existence of a formal Framework.  Nevertheless, the highest probability of success materializes when the latter is in play before a project is initiated.  Organically, the Framework plans the project and sets its execution boundaries, while ICPM executes that plan within those boundaries.


Further insights can be gleaned from chapter 2 of Investment-Centric Project Management, available on


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