Defining projects by type provides useful information on the role of existing technology in their development and how resources should be allocated. Five project types have been identified. They are: 1. Derivative, 2. Break through, 3. Platform, 4. Research and development, and 5. Precede commercialization. The first three are associated with market place (Shtub, 1994)
Each of these five project types requires unique combination of development resources and management styles. Understanding the difference among these categories help project managers predict the distribution of resources accurately and allows for better planning and sequencing of projects.
Derivative projects range from less expensive versions of existing products to add-ons or enhancements. On the other hand break through projects involve significant changes to existing products and process. They differ fundamentally from previous generations. Platform projects are a crossbreed of the first two project types. They result in more product or process change than derivatives but they do not introduce new technologies or materials as in break through products. Platforms offer considerable competitive leverage and potential market penetration. On the contrary, research and development projects may or may not result in a product. The market potential of the resultant product is also doubtful -yet it is one of the important strategies of the organization. Precede commercialization is basically a forerunner project to the new products or processes.
The aspects of project management of these technological projects are the link between engineering, science and management discipline. The understanding of these links and the connection between product design, process design, support design, cost, schedule, resources and project success are the main contributions that the project manger makes to the technological aspects of a project.
The need for a new product or service or system results in need for technological management. If the feasibility study of the project results is in positive economic gains, the project is undertaken. The organization aspect must be addressed during the conceptual design phase. The structure of the change control board is very critical. Engineering and quality assurance should be included. The role of each change control member and procedures adopted for change request evaluations are very important to the technological management process. Because each phase of the project ends with an updated more complete and more detailed configuration, time management is also essential. The baselines and the corresponding design reviews become key milestones in the project life cycle from the technological point of view. Reviews and configuration management plan form the foundation of the project. Due to continuing stream of engineering change requests, ongoing technological management is required for many products. Technology management should also include cost of technological decisions and risk analysis. Project cost and success are directly related to the design decisions. The ability to integrate all the different factors affected by technological decisions and consequently to produce the best design based on all these factors is the essence of technological management.
Conclusion - A technological perspective:
Management of technology in projects should ensure that the organization maintains command over the technologies relevant to its purposes, supports the organization's business strategy and stakeholder’s value. Abraham Shtub et al 1994, point out the following three steps in strategic management of technology in projects. The first step is to find out what mix of products and markets will best sustain and enhance the cash flow of the organization. The next step is to test how well the organization's technologies support the ideal product and market mix. The final step is to focus technology investments so that they better support the strategy of their organization.
In spite of the technological implications and skepticism over its success rate, project management is used globally by multi-billion-dollar companies, governments, and small non-profit organizations alike. As the global competition heats up and need for projects to be completed on time and under budget rises up, the demand for project management skills has also picked up over a period of time. To say the least, project management is changing the very face of life and the way we live, think and feel, and people behind the project management will lead the development of exciting new business enterprises in the current century and for centuries to come.