Successful Project Management
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To begin with it is important to say that project management is very important in the modern business environment. Larson and Gray (2010) defined project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements” (p.647). Moreover, project management is the management style that is oriented on established task fulfilment with the efficient usage of existing resources. It puts an emphasis on creation of cohesive relationships among project team members.
Present notion of project management goes beyond the construction, defence, or cinematographic industries. It is an important part of all spheres of business and social life. Each new idea or plan needs detailed project plan with the influential sponsor, professional team united by the common mission, and modern software.
Electronics industry is the flagman in creating a great number of new projects. Project management is applied not only to business sector but it also helps to implement social project into life, which helps to solve pressing social issues.
Project managers are responsible for three aspects of the project: time, cost, and quality of results. In accordance with the generally accepted principles of project management it is believed that effective time management is the key to success for all three indicators. Time constraints of the project are often most critical. When terms of the project are seriously delayed, consequences are very likely to include cost overruns and insufficient quality of work. Therefore, most methods of project management focus on scheduling work and monitoring compliance with the timetable.
Regarding my practical experience I would like to describe the social project, in which I took part as a project manager. The challenging task was to organize free basketball camp. I had to put together 150 kids in Queens NY. Powerade, Nike, and Spalding were sponsors of this project. Results of organizing a camp were great. It was a fascinating event to help children as well as the community.
As Meredith and Mantel (2012) claim, each project has its life-cycle, which includes slow start-up stage, quick development, and slow final stage. This life-cycle is called S-stretched. Depending on the number of employees involved and hours spent project life-cycle is divided into four stages.
In the beginning, when the concept of the project is developed, a responsible manager is chosen, software and resources are evaluated and ordered. Stages of planning, monitoring, and scheduling follow the previous one with final assessment and termination stages. It is a challenging task for the project manager to distribute time among these stages in a manner that will allow the company to have a positive result in the final stage. Main advantages of the project management to an organization are:
- modelling and analysis of the projects portfolio;
- projects efficiency improvement;
- increase in business efficiency and competitiveness as a whole;
- effective use of company’s resources and team collaboration;
- increase in transparency and clarity of the decision-making process;
- clear understanding of the planned outcomes and assessment criteria.
In my practical experience of organizing a free basketball camp I first determined the main purpose of the action plan, resources I needed for its implementation, gathered as inspired team, took an active part in controlling the project on a day-to-day basis and then gathered the feedback to understand if the set goal was achieved.
Meredith and Mantel (2012) also claim that project management planning includes planning of activities and resources, determining and assessing risks, estimating the budget, and scheduling the project. “Inadequate planning is a cliché in project management (Meredith & Mantel, 2012, p. 221). Project managers should pay close attention to this stage because its underestimation can lead to false or incomplete understanding of direction set, improper time management, resources allocation and can undermine the whole task implementation and fulfilment. It is crucial not only to outline the purpose, but also to make sure that it satisfies the company and corresponds to client’s requirements.
When planning the work project, it is necessary to remember that the more detailed a plan of the project is, the more accurate and, therefore, better the working process will be. It is suggested that the exact definition and formulation of practical stages is an important feature of project management, starting with the highest level and then gradually narrowing down to more specific goals and objectives. In addition, the project can be viewed as a sum of carefully selected targets. It is also important to remember that that the forward progress of the project is related to step-by-step achievement of goals, until it finally reaches the ultimate goal.
Gido and Clements (2009) described three types of project organization: functional-type, project-type, and matrix-type organization. Functional structure allows the company to avoid duplication of task activities. The main disadvantages are lack of communication and response and low focus on customers. Project-type organization provides efficient monitoring over the usage of resources and ensures rapid reaction to customers’ requirements. Inefficiency in cost disbursement and obstacles in knowledge sharing between the projects are the main disadvantages of this type of project organization. However, regardless of the type of the project organization, the understanding of the importance of sponsorship and leadership is crucial in the implementation of successful project.
As pointed by Larson and Gray (2010), project sponsors use their influence to make the proposed project approved, which facilitates the project promotion and progression. Their reputation is tied to the success of the project, and its final results depend greatly on sponsor’s reputation. Sponsor is regarded to be the main defender and supporter of the project.
Regarding the leadership, it is important to say that “managing and leading is not the same” (Lewis, 2004, p.86). A true leader is someone who can be followed by a project team who respects his experience and personal qualities. A true leader is someone who is looking for opportunities and does not see barriers everywhere. The leader either in project organization or in a simple manufacturing company unites, inspires, motivates the team to achieve common goals with the most efficient use of available resources. Leader gives an example, inspires, and solves conflicts.
As time scarcity and restriction of resources are common issues for project management, having a practical leader is crucial. This is because it is the challenging art to govern, manage, and achieve the set tasks.
Creating a high-motivated project team is the way to the future success of the project. Larson and Gray (2010) apply the concept of “synergy” when describing the project team coordination. They claim that positive synergy provides multiple efforts enhancement, while negative synergy may result in failure of the whole project. The following characteristics are the common features of well-organized motivated project-team:
- Each team member has a strong vision of the unique project goal and forwards all his efforts to achieve this result;
- Team respects personal leader’s skills to take maximum benefit from each situation;
- Roles are divided equally to fulfil the project on time and to keep high level of morale and collaboration;
- Communication is free among team members. Different proposals are listened to and discussed.
“High-performing teams become champions, create breakthrough products, exceed customer expectations, and get projects done ahead of schedule and under budget” (Larson & Gray, 2010, p.377).
Larson and Gray (2010) describe five-stage team development model that includes forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning stages. Such procedures as organizing project meetings, fostering each member’s team spirit, establishing common goals, creating reward system, making effective and proper decisions, and conflict solving process are the main success project’s paths.
Lewis in his study (2004) pointed that sports teams are great examples of perfect team building. Each player contributes all his skills and efforts to ensure the victory. There are no individuals, there is a partnership and unique vision of common goals.
In my project of organizing children’s basketball camp I created a team where all persons had a big desire to prepare interesting sport events for children. Their tasks were to find the location and to ensure security of the food and medicine supply. Each member of the team was inspired by the motto “The best is for best”.
As pointed by Larson and Gray (2010) the project is divided into smaller work units. This is called the work breakdown structure. Work breakdown structure helps to give a detailed project map and match distinct features of the project with the needs of the definite company. The main components of work breakdown structure are major deliverables, supporting deliverables (sub deliverables), lowest management responsibility level (lowest sub deliverables), cost account, and work package as identifiable work activities.
The project is divided into certain phases for the convenience of tracking progress. Upon completion of the defining, planning, and executing phases, analysis of results obtained is usually performed to identify and correct errors. It helps to determine the overall progress of the project with the aim to understand what is needed to be done before the start of the next project.
Splitting the project into phases makes it possible to present it as a list of main results and dates by which these results should be obtained. The project manager provides direct control of the execution of each task with the help of a project team reporting.
Large integrated programs should be effectively supported by high-structured software that according to Kerzner (2009) performs activities such as planning, tracking, and monitoring. According to Kerzner (2009) there are three levels of project management software: level I, level II, and level III. The first level it is the simplest one. This implies that manager does not need a wide range of analysis. Moreover, if details in project planning change, it is required to put a new plan and entirely new input data to the computer database. The second level of the project management software is designed as a single-project program, like the previous one, but it provides more detailed analysis and plans revision according to changed requirements. It is semiautomatic control and planning tool. The third project management software type is more sophisticated software for the multi-project monitoring including such features as cost controls, scheduling dates, updating, sorting, and building network schemes.
Software support is crucial for the successful project accomplishment because automatic monitoring of the fulfilment of project stages increases productivity and allows to complete the project ahead of schedule and with minimal expenses.
Successful fulfilment of the project is a complicated task. It implies the implementation of numerous interrelated activities. In some cases, these relationships are fairly obvious (technological dependence). In other cases they have a more subtle nature. Some intermediate tasks can not be realized until other tasks are fulfilled in process. Some tasks can only be fulfilled in parallel. If the synchronization is broken while performing different tasks, the entire project can fail. It is a challenging task for the project manager who should be a true leader to control and inspire a sophisticated multistage process of project fulfilment.