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The informal liaison role of project controllers in new product development projects

The informal liaison role of project controllers in new product development projects Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the liaison role of project controllers in new product development (NPD) projects. Design/methodology/approach – This paper is based on a case study of an industrial new product development project. In total, 68 in‐depth interviews were conducted and 32 meetings were observed. Using an inductive approach, this paper scrutinizes the roles of three specific individuals – their formal role as project controllers and their informal role as liaisons. Findings – The study found that project controllers play a crucial part in the everyday work of projects – both formally and informally. Project controllers undertake important liaison activities that are not a part of their formal roles in which they extend their responsibilities to include informal activities such as peacekeeping, probing, nailing, process implementation and streamlining. Practical implications – This paper argues that managers must identify and acknowledge the importance of informal liaisons and liaison activities among project members because such activities are of crucial importance for the facilitation of communication and for work‐flow coordination. By viewing the project controller as someone who is “dressing the project in numbers”, the role can be understood as a support function aimed at close interaction and cross‐functional learning, rather than a function aimed at distant supervision and control. Originality/value – This paper provides important insights into informal aspects of project roles and the everyday work of project controllers. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Managing Projects in Business Emerald Publishing

The informal liaison role of project controllers in new product development projects

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1753-8378
DOI
10.1108/IJMPB-10-2011-0069
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the liaison role of project controllers in new product development (NPD) projects. Design/methodology/approach – This paper is based on a case study of an industrial new product development project. In total, 68 in‐depth interviews were conducted and 32 meetings were observed. Using an inductive approach, this paper scrutinizes the roles of three specific individuals – their formal role as project controllers and their informal role as liaisons. Findings – The study found that project controllers play a crucial part in the everyday work of projects – both formally and informally. Project controllers undertake important liaison activities that are not a part of their formal roles in which they extend their responsibilities to include informal activities such as peacekeeping, probing, nailing, process implementation and streamlining. Practical implications – This paper argues that managers must identify and acknowledge the importance of informal liaisons and liaison activities among project members because such activities are of crucial importance for the facilitation of communication and for work‐flow coordination. By viewing the project controller as someone who is “dressing the project in numbers”, the role can be understood as a support function aimed at close interaction and cross‐functional learning, rather than a function aimed at distant supervision and control. Originality/value – This paper provides important insights into informal aspects of project roles and the everyday work of project controllers.

Journal

International Journal of Managing Projects in BusinessEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 14, 2013

Keywords: New products; Product development; Project management; Roles; Liaisons; Projects; Temporary organizations; Boundaries; Project controllers

References