Part 6 Architecture and Models


The Road to Responsible Collaboration



By Robin Hornby

Alberta, Canada


In this series, Robin Hornby argues that the effectiveness of project management is improved by driving project responsibility into the organization and creating conditions favorable to ‘responsible collaboration’. But this collaborative environment will not naturally fall into place without the support of senior management and the adoption of enabling frameworks, guidelines, and techniques. In this sixth article Robin presents a business focused architecture for projects, and supplementary models designed to promote collaboration. This establishes a framework for implementing a Delivery Organization.


Previous articles in this series have probed specific requirements believed essential in the quest to create a truly collaborative approach to corporate projects. In many cases, solutions were also described. I now want to take a top-down approach to the problem and place solutions within a business focused architecture which in turn suggests models that can be used to develop a transformed environment.

This discussion naturally reads like a description of a project management (PM) implementation and does indeed use PM concepts. It is, however, a framework for the business management of project delivery and most likely is accompanied by corporate cultural change. The organizational adjustments have received their own coverage in a previous article1, but changes to work patterns, behaviours and attitudes must also be tackled. The final article will recognise these issues as part of the general implementation to bring about a collaborative environment.

An Architecture for Collaboration

Our architectural model recognizes three distinct project domains to consider when applying collaborative thinking. This has been absent from traditional project frameworks, and the different domains have consequently been muddled together. This lack of clarity has hindered project development, severely impacting the ability of the business to understand, influence, and control the appropriate elements of the project. The diagram, Business Focused Architecture, is taken from the reference, A Concise Guide to Project Collaboration2, and provides the necessary anchor.

The three domains are:

(1) Business Management. This is the lens through which senior management consider the project which must be clearly defined, meet the owner’s need, and offer a worthwhile and scheduled return on investment. The project’s compliance with these demands must be tracked and understood through all stages. Finally, the owner should be able to discern whether business expectations have been met. Collaboration places the onus on the provider to nominate and adhere to a framework friendly to the owner. If the provider is a vendor, then the framework must account for the differing business views of the owner and the vendor.

(2) Project Management. This is naturally a provider responsibility but is usually a shared concern of owners/providers. Collaboration requires that the same view is held by owners, in-house, and vendor providers. Thus, our model must operate at the highest level of abstraction to achieve universality and eliminate erroneous views of PM (e.g., as a sequential set of management phases), or overly complex and potentially inconsistent views (e.g., in-house standards, PMBOK®, PRINCE2®, etc.). Desirable details (taken from these standards) can then be reviewed, the value assessed, and selected by the collaborating project managers (the PMs) under a universal umbrella.

(3) Project Work. This is always, by definition, a provider responsibility. The work is usually guided by use of a methodology determined by the provider as suitable for the project. Collaboration demands all providers share a common understanding of the visible elements of the methodology and that the pertinent Collaborative StakeHolders (CSHs)1 nominated by the owner are included in this understanding.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Robin Hornby, author of four books including A Concise Guide to Project Collaboration: Building a Delivery Organization (Routledge 2023) and Ccommercial Project Management: A Guide for Selling and Delivering Professional Services (Routledge 2017). Learn more about the author in his profile below.

How to cite this work: Hornby, R. (2023). Part 6 Architecture and Models, The Road to Responsible Collaboration, series article, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue X, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/pmwj134-Oct2023-Hornby-Part-6-Architecture-and-Models-collaboration-series-article.pdf

About the Author

Robin Hornby

Alberta, Canada


Robin Hornby worked in Information Technology for over 40 years, taught project management at Mount Royal University for 12 years and maintained a consulting practice. He worked across Canada and internationally, was a long-time holder of the PMP designation, and presented frequently at PMI symposia. He pioneered many delivery management practices and is the author of four books. His latest book titled A Concise Guide to Project Collaboration: Building a Delivery Organization was published in 2023 by Routledge.  For more information, visit www.tmipm.com. Robin Hornby can be contacted at rchornby@shaw.ca

To view other works by Robin Hornby, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/robin-hornby/