Welcome!

Virtualization Authors: Roger Strukhoff, Trevor Parsons, Carmen Gonzalez, JP Morgenthal, Paul Speciale

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)

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash Inc., will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone a...
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it’s a mix of architectural style...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accelerate their digital channels with APIs, drive partner adoption, monetize their assets, and achieve a...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
Connected devices are changing the way we go about our everyday life, from wearables to driverless cars, to smart grids and entire industries revolutionizing business opportunities through smart objects, capable of two-way communication. But what happens when objects are given an IP-address, and we rely on that connection, sometimes with our lives? How do we secure those vast data infrastructures and safe-keep the privacy of sensitive information? This session will outline how each and every connected device can uphold a core root of trust via a unique cryptographic signature – a “bir...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, will discuss how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...

SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...