Project Management Essentials: Plans and Standards

The task of managing a project might seem simple enough on the surface, yet introspect into the subject matter will reveal that it is a delicate process that needs a number of ingredients and demands consistent supervision. Working as a member of a quality assurance team to develop a plan for updating a product to make it more appetizing to buyers, I realized that project management demands a significant effort from every member involved. Despite my endeavors of promoting an adequate risk assessment, the project in question tanked due to the lack of involvement among the participants and, therefore, its failure at nearly every level.

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From the perspective of the current standards for project management, the project under analysis required a better guidance. In a retrospect, it needed a much better and more cohesive organizational culture that could help improve the behavioral patterns of the participants. The present culture, however, did not allow for any opportunities for commitment development in observable future. It could be argued that the creation of a set of rigid ethical standards for the staff to comply with could have served as the means of improving the organizational culture. As a result, the participants could have been introduced to the philosophy of corporate social responsibility (SCR). Being the foundation for fostering responsible attitudes toward task management in the workplace environment (Fewings, 2013), it promotes a responsible attitude to the tasks. However, as it was, the corporate culture in the team that I was a part of could not possibly predispose any increase in staff’s motivation rates.

The fact that there was little to no cost assessment involved in the process of project management was another detail worth identifying as an immediate threat to its success. The step under analysis is crucial to the process of decision-making as it helps navigate between the solutions available and choosing the most sensible ones, thus, creating the environment, in which the project may deliver positive results (Gray & Larson, 2010). The situation in question, however, did not imply any kind of calculations or identification of the economic and financial opportunities and threats whatsoever.

The implications of a poorly defined cost management strategy could be observed at a comparatively early stage of the task management. Specifically, the very fact that a coherent plan was not identified showed that the leader failed to create the approach that could help identify the costs to be taken in the observable future.

Similarly, the absence of a distinct and unambiguous project plan evidently affected its development. As a result, the pace of the plan completion left much to be desired, which was expected as scholars specified that the creation of a distinct project plan permits viewing the logical sequences and the relations between the variables thereof (Lock, 2014). In other words, the identification of the steps of a project plan is crucial to attaining positive results.

The environment under analysis, however, apparently lacked a cohesive project plan, as most members had a very vague idea about the various stages of its completion. The observed phenomenon can be attributed to the fact that the team was far from homogenous. By definition, cross-functional teams involve communication issues that may trigger conflicts and contribute to the staff being poorly informed (Kendrick, 2013). Regardless, the issue concerning the lack of an elaborate plan points to the fact that the very nature of the project was flawed.

Although the overall assessment of the project shows that it has been implemented in an inappropriate manner, a closer look at some of its elements will reveal that it did not fail at every single stage of its completion. For instance, the cost management approach was handled at a decent level. The strategy chosen for managing the crucial expenses was based on the concept of sustainability (Silvius, 2013). As a result, the possibility of maintaining the performance of every area was created. To be more exact, the costs that were positioned initially as fixed were converted into variable ones. The process was carried out with the help of the outsourcing. As a result, the management of the existing financial risks was carried out in an appropriate manner.

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Similarly, the management of the risks associated with IT and information security was performed appropriately. First, the rates of exposure to the threat of a cyber attack were identified so that the necessary security levels could be located. As it turned out, the project was open to a large variety of threats from viruses to DDoS-attacks, which meant that the databases containing crucial information had to be protected. Consequently, the idea of strengthening the passwords by incorporating a range of symbols, including upper- and lowercase letters, and stretching them to twenty characters provided the basis for improving the security issue. In addition, cyber risks were addressed by holding a series of training for the participants to promote cyber awareness and explain the ground rules for using the databases. For instance, instead of closing the window to exit the database, the users were suggested to log out of their profiles so that the instances of an automated log-in could be prevented. Moreover, it was prohibited to store the passwords to the personal accounts of the team members on their personal computers.

The risks related to the customer relations were also addressed in the course of the project. There is no secret that people typically take the changes made to the products that they buy with a grain of salt. Therefore, it was imperative to make sure that the modifications made to a typically recognized product should not avert loyal customers and at the same time attract new ones. The specified risk was addressed by creating a branding strategy that could help boost the sales and, therefore, contribute to an increase in competitiveness.

Unfortunately, the fact that the risks were addressed in an appropriate manner did not help improve the overall performance of the project since the latter was not scheduled appropriately. As it has been stressed above, there was a consistent lack of involvement and enthusiasm, which made it impossible to apply the suggested cost reduction model in an efficient manner. The unwillingness of the members to participate, therefore, caused the cost management strategy to lose its significance.

Inconsistent scheduling was another grave error that, in essence, doomed the project. As it has been stressed above, the absence of concord among the participants led to significant disruptions in the course of the project completion. The phenomenon under analysis can be viewed as a direct effect of the lack of scheduling. Not being able to identify the steps that need to be taken to attain the required goals and retrieve the necessary outcomes, the members became disinterested in it very soon.

The absence of scheduling also made it impossible to evaluate the progress made. As a result, the members lost the track of changes and were unable to identify the next stage that has to be reached to attain the necessary objectives. The scheduling problem could be paralleled with the specifics of the team (i.e., the diversity of the members and a high possibility of interpersonal conflicts) to explain the failure that could be observed. Nevertheless, the fact that the project manager left the team at some point and, thus, let the project take its own course, displays the evident time-management issues. In hindsight, it could have been suggested that software for scheduling should have been used to track the changes easier.

Another aspect that the subject matter has to be assessed on, the leadership strategy was also beyond deplorable in the case in point. The mere absence of the leader at the time when the project was being implemented indicates complete indifference of every party involved. The leadership approach adopted in the given scenario, therefore, was truly deplorable.

The absence of any motivation among the participants also implied that the leadership approach left much to be desired. According to the existing standards for project leadership, it is imperative that a project manager should be able to connect different areas of the project to make sure that every group could be managed properly: “a project manager’s ability to work effectively with one group will affect her ability to manage other groups” (Gray & Larson, 2010).

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While claiming that the participants of the project were arguing on a regular basis and could not reach a compromise on any issue would be quite a stretch, the differences in the mind frame of the people involved were quite appreciable. As a rule, the diversity factor is not viewed as a negative one – quite on the contrary, it implies that numerous viewpoints could be incorporated into the discussion and that an objective evaluation of a certain issue could be provided. However, in the setting above, the diversity of the members did not play out to the advantage of the project due to the poor teamwork thereof.

An essential element of a successful project, teamwork rarely occurs spontaneously. As a rule, it implies that significant efforts have to be made by all members involved so that conflicts could be resolved, negotiations could be made, and agreements could be reached. The quality of teamwork in the specified scenario, in its turn, was beyond deplorable. In a certain way, the lack of enthusiasm, which could be observed among the target participants, could be viewed as a direct outcome of a poorly designed leadership strategy. Indeed, the lack of leadership in the specified plan is obvious, and it manifests itself in the complete absence of any motivation whatsoever. As it has been stressed above, none of the participants was willing to comply with the schedule or to contribute to the success of the entrepreneurship. The given problem could have been addressed with the introduction of incentives and rewards, yet no measures were undertaken to make sure that the people involved were motivated to deliver good performance.

As one might easily guess, the project was not monitored in any way, which was the sign that the management strategy could use a grand redesign. Apart from the time management approach, which did not hold any water either as a stand-alone system or as a part of the general strategy, the monitoring system was flawed.

In respect to the monitoring issue, the fact that no concerns were raised regarding the information management tools serves as a proof of the impotence of the overall approach to managing the project. The absence of supervision could be explained by the fact that the participants belonged to different departments and, therefore, could not agree on the tools for monitoring. However, the given factor does not justify the incompetence of the project manager in any way.

Last but not least, a complete absence of closure for the project can be viewed as an essential drawback that topped the amount of errors made in the process. According to Gray and Larson (2010), a project, even when being unsuccessful, has to be summed up so that proper conclusions could be made and that lessons should be derived from the experience. Thus, similar drastic mistakes can be avoided in the future: “Evaluation includes team, individual team members, and project manager performance. Vendors and the customer may provide external input. Evaluation of the major players provides important information for the future” (Gray & Larson, 2010, p. 506). Nonetheless, the project was not summed up in any way that would have provided an opportunity to learn from the failure. In other words, the lack of closure prevented from carrying out a post-implementation evaluation of the results, which is an essential part of any project.

One might argue that the failure of the project serves as the proof of the lack of useful lessons and ideas to derive from the experience. However, the specified assumption is wrong; poor performance can serve as a foundation for building experience as much as good performance can. In fact, a failure often proves to be starting point for a significant improvement as it helps locate the essential weaknesses in the overall design of the organizational, economic, and production processes. Project failures permit locating the areas that need improvements and the issues that require adjustments (Gray & Larson, 2010). As a result, the prerequisites for building a stronger team and designing the products that meet customers’ demands can be created. Therefore, it was not only the inefficiency of the campaign in question but also the unwillingness to carry out a post-production analysis that made it entirely implausible.

Despite the provision of an adequate risk assessment, the project failed miserably because of the incompatibility of the management strategies chosen with the essential requirements for project management. The experience mentioned above shows I a very graphic manner that the management of a project is a complex set of processes that imply a strong leadership strategy and commitment from all parties involved. Because of the absence thereof, the project lacked a coherent organizational structure, a clear plan, reasonable scheduling, etc., the project did not meet the criteria set. The experience of participating in the project as a member of the quality assurance team has displayed the importance of creating a proper organizational culture and designing an elaborate leadership approach that will help maintain high enthusiasm and commitment rates among the participants.

Reference List

Fewings, P. (2013). Construction project management: An integrated approach. New York City, NY: Routledge.

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Gray, E., & Larson, C. F. (2010). Project management: The managerial process (5th ed.). New York City, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Kendrick, T. (2013). The project management tool kit: 100 tips and techniques for getting the job done right. Washington, DC: AMACOM.

Lock, D. (2014). The essentials of project management. Burlington, VT: Gower Publishing, Ltd.

Silvius, G. (2013). Sustainability integration for effective project management. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

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