Managing Projects and Its Principles

Introduction

Project management is a process that uses carefully planned and organized efforts that seek to accomplish specified aspects of a project. A project has been defined as any work that happens once with a clear begging and a clear end and which has an intention of creating an impact on those who are targeted by the work.

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Project management is, therefore, the application of principles that include knowledge, skill, tools and techniques in order to successfully meet all the needs and expectations of the project by coordinating all the stakeholders to ensure that they play their parts. It is based on the development of the necessary plan, which gives an outline of how the project will be implemented and how the arising deficiencies will be addressed.

Project management should begin with setting necessary goals and objectives that will be achieved in the phase of implementation of the project. It lays out a plan which will be followed in achieving the said objectives. It also gives a detailed plan of all the resources that are required to implement the project. A plan cannot be said to be complete and effective if it does not have a timeline that will be used to achieve all these goals and objectives. It must give a clear indication of the time within which the project will be completed. It must give a detailed plan of how resources will be availed in order to achieve the said goals and objectives.

Throughout its life cycle, the project must be able to meet all its targets. The initial plan must also clearly analyze the budget of all the resources that will be used in the project. It must give ways of how excess requirements in the budget will be met. The initial plan also lays out a clear way that will be followed in the implementation of the project and also include measures that will be taken to ensure that the project stays clearly on the path according to the initial plan. Project management usually comes in phases from baseline studies and the planning stage to the evaluation phase, which seeks to assess the impact that the project has created on those who were targeted by the project.

The principle of project management ensures that the project meets its needs though availing all necessary resources and meeting their expectations, successfully solving all the differing and conflicting interests of different stakeholders in the project, clearly identifying needs and the scope of the project and ensuring that all of them are addressed, making sure that the project is committed to quality and quantity through all its outcome.

It is therefore very important to put into consideration all the aspects of management in the initial planning of a project cycle. It is important to consider how all the various components and various stakeholders are going to interact to achieve the target objectives and goal. Management should be focused and able to address the arising needs of the project.

This paper will look at a case study to identify the application of different principles of management in the implementation phase of the project. It will later look into the application of different management principles in various aspects of the project cycle.

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Key Purpose of Control in Projects

In its implementation, a project undergoes a life cycle spanning from the baseline survey to the evaluation phase of the project. In this lifecycle, a project passes through pre-planned steps that are monitored from time to time. The purpose of control in a project is to ensure that the project is accomplishing the set objectives. Project control involves the development of products or services which the project was commissioned to achieve. This is accomplished using plans, schedules, procedures, and templates which were prepared before to assist in the implementation of the project.

Hence the purpose of project control can be explained in four dimensions. Project control ensures that the project is watched over in its progress. This is to ensure that the real implementation is taking place. Project control ensures that those implementing the project sticks to the original plans very closely. Project control ensures that those watching over its implementation diagnose problems in the original plans. It is not bound that all the initial plans will sail through easily. After identifying these challenges, project control helps those responsible for designing necessary changes in the implementation.

It becomes necessary to put the necessary control measure in the implementation phase of the project to ensure that at each and every stage, only the desired inputs are used. Control of inputs is very important to ensure that the project operates within its budget. Control ensures that the project is kept on track, and those managing its implementation can easily detect areas of weakness in the implementation. Project control gives a deep understanding of the program needs, which makes it easy to implement the necessary adjustments. It is aimed at ensuring that the performance of the project does not deviate in a significant way from the plan.

Control mechanisms that Dave would have put in place

To have effective control of the project, Dave would have implemented mechanisms of control for the project in three broad aspects. He would have put in place mechanisms that managed the triple concerns in project control. He would have put in place mechanisms controlling the scope, schedule, and budget. But in this case, there was a need to go further and take control measures in the quality of what was being done. Mechanism of control in the project would involve using tools like integrated project schedule, commissioning and qualification protocols, and the project punch lists. Let us look at the possible mechanisms of control that Dave would have put in place in light of the above aspects of control.

Dave would have put in place a mechanism to manage the scope of the project. This would have been enabled by ensuring that there is an integrated project schedule in place. As has been described, the project was wide in scope and had four divisions. Without an effective mechanism to link the deliveries of the four divisions, it would be difficult to ensure that there was harmony in the implementation phase of the project. Due to a lack of control of scope, there were constant conflicts between different divisions in the project. The lack of harmony in the project is evidenced by various complaints from all four divisions.

To ensure that there is scope control in the project, Dave would have put in place a mechanism that monitored the functions of each and every department and linked all the departments working together. The problem in scope control arose from the fact that there was no one who was taking direct monitoring of what different divisions were doing. It seems there was a problem right from the start of the project since there lacked a framework that defined how all the divisions related to one another.

Putting an effective mechanism to control the scope of the project would have worked by ensuring that there was a link between different divisions. This would enhance communication between different divisions in the process. This would enhance teamwork and reduce conflicts between the groups. This would put up a complaint centre through which divisions would channel complaints instead of engaging in a direct conflict that deteriorated the situation.

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An integrated project schedule would have put in place the necessary link of activities in the project. Amid the conflict, the project was still behind schedule in months. No one seemed to keep to details of the schedule, and even the new software could not be tested because the hardware was not delivered. There were complaints from some divisions that they were being held at ransom by other departments which had not completed their work or made a decision on the project.

Dave would have drafted a schedule of activities for the project and make sure that it is issued to all divisions from time to time to remind them of what they are supposed to do and the time limit set for them to achieve that. The integrated schedule should have been based on week, ensuring there was the weekly issue of one-week-look-ahead-schedule to ensure that they know on a weekly basis what they are supposed to achieve. This schedule should serve as a predictive tool giving details of how activities are to occur and milestone to be achieved each and every week.

There were also problems that were cited on the quality of the work. The First complaint on quality was raised by Monster, who predicted problems with the accounts department if it used consolidated billing. To ensure that the problem of low quality work did not occur, Dave would have commissioned a protocol that could serve as the primary means through which all the work could be judged as complete and acceptable in all divisions.

Apparently, there were no set standards that could be used to evaluate the quality of the work that had been completed. There were complaints that no one kept an eye on the details. This translated to poor work and the possible failure of the project. In the planning phase, Dave would have put in place mechanisms that would have ensured that there were quality standard protocols through which all the work that was completed could be tested against.

This would have been circulated to each and every department in order to ensure that each division knows what is expected of them in terms of work quality. Since this project was multifaceted but expected to work together at that end, there ought to have been a quality control division that would have been evaluating the compatibility of the work produced in all the departments. (Wysocki 2003, p. 43)

Quality control protocols would have worked to assess not only the quantity of the work completed but also other aspects that come hand in hand with completed work. It would have set standards on the cost of the project and ensure that the project operates within its budget in terms of the use of materials. It would also evaluate the morale of the workers. The conflicts in the project seem to have led to low morale among those involved in the project centrally to the initial atmosphere where the participant was upbeat about implementing the project. It would have evaluated what led to low morale and conflict among workers and make the necessary recommendations.

This would have also evaluated the satisfaction of the customer. From the case study, it was obvious that there were a lot of dissatisfactions on the side of the company. The accounts department complained that the software would not be compatible with its roles. This was due to low quality work. A comprehensive quality control mechanism would have also ensured that there was a low risk of failure for the project. This would have been implemented in a number of ways.

Dave would have ensured that they conducted a peer review on a daily basis. This would have resolved problems that surrounded the project on a daily basis. Peer reviews would have been conducted by members of each and every division to find out if their work met the standards of quality that have been set. This could also have been achieved using quality checklists. This checklist would have been created between Dave in the capacity of a manager and project team members. This would be used to evaluate the standard of each and every completed work in each team.

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The other aspect of control would have been inputting mechanisms to ensure that the project budget was well managed. This would have ensured that all the money was paid on time and deliveries made as appropriate. Apparently, the software could not be tested because the hardware had not been delivered. Dave would have been more involved in analyzing the finances of the project on a daily basis to ensure that this sensitive component of the project cycle is catered for.

The project management should have timely evaluated original contract value, total approved changes in the cost of the project, total current budget, project cost variance, total expended amount of the budget, and other various aspects of the budget. This would have ensured currency accuracy and viability of the project in regard to the initial schedule that has been set.

The other mechanism of control that ought to have been put in place is the project punch list. This would have been an important tool that would have determined how that project responded to the changes that ought to have been made in the project in the implementation phase. Project punch list would have acted as a tool to track deficiencies in the project and keep the focus on what had to get fixed in order to respond to the arising crisis.

This would have been included in the planning phase of the project. But it is evident that instead of proposing what is to be done in case of arising complaints, Dave tells Monster to go and consult with the contractor on what was to be done on the issue of consolidated billing. This clearly indicates that there was no defined mechanism for addressing the arising deficiencies in the project. Project punch list would have devised ways of tracking, correcting and controlling quality in the project. It would have been effectively used as a quality control tool for the project since it would respond quickly to the changes that needed to be made.

Lack of comprehensive initial planning plunged the project into all these conflicts and consequently undermined the implementation of the project. Dave would have initially put in placed the above mechanisms to ensure that management had control of the project from the baseline phase to the evaluation phase. The conflict in the project seems to have arisen from the fact that there was no central mechanism of control that would have directed and evaluated operations of different components of the project.

Resources can include people, equipment, machines, tools, facilities and space. TRUE OR FALSE?

TRUE. Resources can include people, equipment, machines, tools, and space. A resource can be defined as anything that is valuable and can be used. Resources can be defined as those inputs that assist in the production of goods and services. It is anything that is considered useful in the production process, including space where production equipment is located. Resources fall in many categories broadly classified into two categories of renewable and non-renewable resources.

Renewable resources are those resources that can be reused from time to time without exhaustion. On the other hand, non-renewable resources are those resources that, once used, cannot be reused again. They are an exhaustible resource. Renewable resources include some resources like water, sunlight, and others which can be reused from time to time without exhaustion. Non-renewable resources include minerals that one used; they cannot be reused again. Resources are further classified into human resources, capital resources and social capital. Human resources or human capital include labour that is provided by people.

Therefore in this classification, people fall under human resources in terms of labour they contribute. Capital resources include those manmade inputs that are used in production. These resources are not renewable and undergo the process of tear and wear from time to time. Equipment, machines, tools and other manmade facilities are all put under this classification. Space falls under natural resources since it can be reused again.

Different resources are used in the production process. A production process seeks to integrate different resources and uses other resources in order to produce others. For example, in the production of hydropower, water which is a natural resource, is used together with machines which are manmade capital in order to produce electricity which is another resource. (Foote, 2000)

If resources are to be considered in planning, it’s necessary to indicate the amounts and types of resources needed to perform each activity. True or False?

True.

The resource is anything that has value used in the production process. Anything is considered a resource once its value is recognized. Most resources are scarce in nature and should be used in the most appropriate way possible. If possible, wastage of resources should be avoided as much as possible since the success of any process depends on the extent to which various resources used in the project have been managed. Management of resources is very crucial in the implementation of any project since it determines the sustainability and outcome of any process.

In planning a project, it is necessary to indicate the amount and type of resources that are needed for each activity in the most appropriate way possible. As we have said, the success of the whole plan will depend on how resources will be managed. Indicating the type of resource that is needed in the project will help in determining which resources are immediately for the project and which ones need to be outsourced from outside.

This is also vital in planning the budget of the project since the budget is mostly dictated by the resources to be used. It helps in showing resources that are to be bought and which can be freely included in the project. Indicating the number of resources in the project, on the other hand, reduces wastage or avoids any shortfalls that may arise within the period of implementation of the project. Indicating the amounts that will be used also helps in planning the budget in terms of resource that is to be hired or purchased.

To ensure that the project does not end up constrained in terms of resources during the implementation phase, it is important to outline in the planning phase all the resources that will be required and the exact amount to be used. (Timm, 1999)

Resources can constrain the project schedule. True or False?

True.

The resource can indeed constrain the project schedule. It is well understood that the success or failure of a project depends on the availability of the resource for use in the project. If there are not enough resources for the project, it will definitely not succeed in achieving its overall goal. Resources have been identified as an integral part of the success of any project as it determines the extent to which all objectives are achieved. The planning of any project depends on the availability of the resource. This helps in determining the access or the required resources for use in the project. One reason why many projects fail halfway through their operation is for the simple reason that the initial plan fails to take into consideration all the resources that are needed.

The project then comes to a sudden halt halfway because it cannot access vital resources that will help it to meet its objective. All the resources should be carefully considered before implementing the project. Human and capital resources are especially very important in a project cycle since they are the major determinant of how the project schedule is followed. In most instances project faces delays in implementation of the schedule because the necessary resources are not availed in time for the project to kick off. (Chapman, 2007)

The availability of resources and the schedule of activities to be used in implementing the project must match. A project will face a lot of constraints in achieving the set target if there are no resources to help in achieving them. Delivery of the necessary resources should match the necessity of the resource in the implementation schedule. This is necessary to avoid unnecessary constraints that many projects face because they cannot access the required resources at that particular time. This leads to postponement of the activity and consequently delays in the schedule.

Conflict in the project team should be avoided if a team is to succeed. True or False?

True.

In the process of the implementation of the project, there arise conflicts between different parties involved in the implementation. Conflicts arising between those working in the project leads to bad relations, which have adverse effects on the implementation of the project’s activities. It is understood that a project is made up of different parts which relate to the other and works for the achievement of the goals of the project. If there conflict in the project, it will be difficult for these parties to relate well with the other. This is why it becomes very important to solve all the conflict that arises in the implementation phase of the project.

Conflicts take away the understanding that is supposed to be there between different people in their project, which hampers the coordination of the activities. A project with conflict is bound to achieve less than expected. To solve the conflict in a project, there should be a way of handling activities that outlines specific jobs for all those in the organization to avoid conflicts arising from the interface of work. (Fleming and Koppleman 2000, p. 56)

There need to be mechanisms put in place that will help in solving conflicts arising in the project. This is necessary in order to respond to the areas that are causing conflict in the implementation of the project. Conflict resolution is also necessary since it helps to improve the relationship between the conflicting parties, which increase the chances of success of the project. If a project is to succeed, there must be a way of settling disputes that are arising in the implementation phase and, in effect, find the root cause of the conflict and address it as necessary. This is one of the reasons why there should be monitoring and control of the project to resolve issues like these.

Conclusion

Project management is an important component in the life of the project. It is important in determining how the project meets its initial objectives and the overall impact it crates on those who are targeted. A project cannot succeed without effective management that seeks to address all the problems arising in the implementation cycle. Conflict management is of utmost importance in the project if it has to succeed. Conflicts should be resolve in a way to ensure that only the interest of the project is served rather than the interests of various stakeholders in the project.

References

Chapman, J. 2007, Project Management, Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

Fleming, Q. W. & Koppleman, J. M. 2000, Earned Value Project Management, 2nd Ed. Project Management Institute.

Foote, D. 2000, Managing Project with a new view. Project Management Institute.

Human Resource Development Canada (Office of Learning Technologies) 2003. Introduction to project management principles. Web.

Timm, E. 1999, Project Management. ACT Publishing, Mill Valley.

Vijay, V. & Hans, T. 1996, Human Resource Skills for the Project, Wiley press, New York.

Wysocki, R. 2003, Effective Project Management, Wiley Press, New York.

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