Strategies for Successful Project Management
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Task - 01
1.1 Success of the Project
Every organization requires good leadership in order to carry out all their projects successfully. This requires the organization to appoint efficient project managers to carry out various tasks, and of course to guide and lead the project management team and get them to a point where they have effectively completed any given project at hand, taking into account a whole load of factors.
In order to understand how project management can run smoothly, it is important to first identify the role ant the tasks carried out by the project manager. So who is a project manager and why is he/she so important?
The Role of a Project Manager
The role of a project manager basically involves handling all aspects of the project.
This includes not just the logistics but also the planning, brainstorming and seeing to the overall completion of the project while also preventing glitches and ensuring that the project management team works well together.
The Goals of a Project Manager
Following should be the main goals for a project manager but they are not limited to the listed one because it very much depends on the situation.
A project manager must always be able to carry out his role in a very effective manner.
This means that in most cases he/she would have to run against time with the clock ticking away. All projects would have deadlines, so it is the duty of a project manager to complete the project by this given date.
It should be noted that although the project manager and his team may draw up a schedule at the outset that may seem perfect, as time goes on you will find that the requirements may change, and the projects may require new strategies to be implemented and more planning to be carried out.
Time therefore could be a big obstacle for a project manager achieving his/her goal. As the project manager you should never lose sight of the deadline, your role would be to keep pushing your team to finish the work and deliver on time.
Remember that your clients' satisfaction is your number one priority.
2) Client Satisfaction:
Satisfaction of the client however does not mean that you rush to finish the work on time without ensuring that standards are met.
The reputation of your organization would depend on the quality of the delivery of your projects. This is another factor you should not lose sight of throughout the project.
Your role would also be to keep reminding the team members that quality is key.
3) No Budget Overrun:
No project can be started off without the preparation of the budget. Although this is just a forecast of the costs that would be incurred, it is essential that this budget is prepared after careful research and comparing prices to get the best.
You would need to consider ways of cutting costs while also ensuring that you meet the needs of the client as well as meeting the standards expected of your organization.
This budget must include all costs, with regard equipment, labor and everything else. You then need to try and always stick to the budget, although it's always best to leave some allowance for a few 100 dollars for any additional expenses that may arise.
4) Requirements Coverage:
Another goal of a project manager involves meeting all requirements of the client. You would need to therefore have all specifications at hand, and go through them every once in a while to ensure that you are on track.
If there is confusion as to any requirements, it would be best for you to get them cleared at the very beginning.
5) Team Management:
While you would have to ensure that all aspects of the project are maintained, you are also responsible as project manager for the happiness of your team.
You need to keep in mind that it is the incentives and encouragement provided to them that will make them work harder and want to complete the work on time, thereby helping you reach your goals.
If the team members are unhappy with the way things are being carried out, productivity will also in turn decrease, pulling you further away from achieving your goals. It is essential therefore to always maintain a warm friendly relationship with them.
The communication within the team should be very effective. They should be willing to voice out their opinions, while you listen to their suggestions and consider including them in the project.
This is after all a team effort. Your goals with regard to the project are also their goals.
The role of a project manager is therefore no easy task. It involves taking up a lot of responsibility as each of the goals of the project must be met without making too many sacrifices.
If these goals are outlined to the project management team at the very beginning, there in no way for the delivery of the goals to be delayed in any way as everyone will always be aware of what they need to achieve and by when.
1.2 Team Work Quality and Project Quality Plan
Team Work Quality
Although a good project plan generally leads to success, it's not enough. Everything that we do and the things that we do are all connected with people. We live because of people, we work with people, we work for people and we could say that we depend of people. That's why in a project the most important things are the team. So it's all about the people you work with.
The project team can be built up of human resources within one functional organization, or it can consist of members from many different functional organizations. A cross-functional team has members from multiple organizations and this is a recommended thing to do. The most important tasks that the project team has are:
- Understanding the work to be completed.
- Planning out the assigned activities in more detail if needed.
- Completing assigned work within the budget, timeline and quality expectations.
- Informing the project manager of issues, scope changes, and risk and quality concerns.
- Proactively communicating status and managing expectations.
But what is really a project team? It's formed by some people that know very well what they are doing and that are headed by a project manager who is responsible for the successful outcome of the project. His job is very important because he must also form and educate team members and teach them how to do what is needed when they don't know.
The project team carry a huge responsibility upon it's shoulders: the success or the failure of the project. Its members are the one who practically execute the project, who give reports to the project manager, who make changes and corrections when needed. Each member of this team has his own task, which represents a part of the whole project. So it's important that everyone respects what he must do so the final result is a good one.
Project Quality Plan
Every project delivers something at the end of the project execution. When it comes to the project initiation, the project management and the client collaboratively define the objectives and the deliveries of the project together with the completion timelines.
During the project execution, there are a number of project deliveries made. All these deliveries should adhere to certain quality standards (industry standards) as well as specific client requirements.
Therefore, each of these deliveries should be validated and verified before delivering the client. For that, there should be a quality assurance function which runs from start to the end of the project.
When it comes to the quality, not only the quality of the deliveries that matter the most. The processes or activities that produce deliverables should also adhere to certain quality guidelines as well.
As a principle, if the processes and activities that produce the deliverables do not adhere to their own quality standards (process quality standards), then there is a high probability that deliverables not meeting the delivery quality standards.
To address all the quality requirements, standards, and quality assurance mechanisms in a project, a document called 'project quality plan' is developed by the project team. This plan acts as the quality bible for the project and all the stakeholders of the project should adhere to the project quality plan.
The Components of a Project Quality Plan
Depending on the nature of the industry and the nature of the project, the components or the areas addressed by a quality plan may vary. However, there are some components that can be found in any type of quality plan.
Let's have a look at the most essential attributes of a project quality plan.
Responsibility of Management
This describes how the management is responsible for achieving the project quality. Since management is the controlling and monitoring function for the project, project quality is mainly a management responsibility.
Document Management and Control
Documents are the main method of communication in project management. Documents are used for communication between the team members, project management, senior management, and the client.
Therefore, the project quality plan should describe a way to manage and control the documents used in the project. Usually, there can be a common documentation repository with controlled access in order to store and retrieve the documents.
The correct requirements to be implemented are listed here. This is an abstraction of the requirements sign-off document. Having requirements noted in the project quality plan helps the quality assurance team to correctly validate them.
This way, quality assurance function knows what exactly to test and what exactly to leave out from the scope. Testing the requirements that are not in the scope maybe a waste for the services provider.
This specifies the controls and procedures used for the design phase of the project. Usually, there should be design reviews in order to analyses the correctness of the proposed technical design. For fruitful design reviews, senior designers or the architects of the respective domain should get involved. Once the designs are reviewed and agreed, they are signed-off with the client.
With the time, the client may come up with changes to the requirements or new requirements. In such cases, designed maybe changed. Every time the design changes, the changes should be reviewed and signed-off.
Development Control and Rigor
Once the construction of the project starts, all the processes, procedures, and activities should be closely monitored and measured. By this type of control, the project management can make sure that the project is progressing in the correct path.
Testing and Quality Assurance
This component of the project quality plan takes precedence over other components. This is the element which describes the main quality assurance functions of the project. This section should clearly identify the quality objectives for the project and the approach to achieve them.
Risks & Mitigation
This section identifies the project quality risks. Then, the project management team should come up with appropriate mitigation plans in order to address each quality risk.
For every project, regardless of its size or the nature, there should be periodic quality audits to measure the adherence to the quality standards. These audits can be done by an internal team or an external team.
Sometimes, the client may employ external audit teams to measure the compliance to standards and procedures of the project processes and activities.
During testing and quality assurance, defects are usually caught. This is quite common when it comes to software development projects. The project quality plan should have guidelines and instructions on how to manage the defects.
Every project team requires some kind of training before the project commences. For this, a skill gap analysis is done to identify the training requirements at the project initiation phase.
The project quality plan should indicate these training requirements and necessary steps to get the staff trained.
Project quality plan is one of the mandatory documents for any type of project.
As long as a project has defined objectives and deliverables, there should be a project quality plan to measure the delivery and process quality.
1.3Over run of cost
Current performance is the best indicator of future performance, and therefore using trend data, it is possible to forecast cost or schedule overruns at an early stage in a project. The most comprehensive trend analysis technique is the Earned Value method.
In a nutshell, Earned Value is an approach where you monitor the project plan, actual work, and work-completed value to see if a project is on track. Earned Value shows how much of the budget and time should have been spent, with regard to the amount of work done so far.
Here are five other definitions:
- Angler and Associates, Inc define it as, "A method for measuring project performance. It compares the amount of work that was planned with what was actually accomplished to determine if cost and schedule performance is as planned."
- Project Magazine defines it as, "A methodology used to measure and communicate the real physical progress of a project taking into account the work complete, the time taken and the costs incurred to complete that work."
- The user guide for Microsoft Project 2003 defines Earned Value as, "A method for measuring project performance. It indicates how much of the budget should have been spent, in view of the amount of work done so far and the baseline cost for the task, assignment, or resources."
- Field Operative defines it as, "The physical work accomplished plus the authorized budget for this work. The sum of the approved cost estimates, (which may include overhead allocation), for activities, (or portions of activities), completed during a given period, usually project-to-date."
- NASA defines it as, "An integrated management control system for assessing, understanding and quantifying what a contractor or field activity is achieving with program dollars. EVM provides project management with objective, accurate and timely data for effective decision making."
Earned Value differs from the usual budget verses actual costs incurred model, in that it requires the cost of work in progress to be quantified. This allows the project manager to compare how much work has been completed, against how much he expected to be completed at a given point.
The project manager needs to agree the project scope, create a Work Breakdown Structure ¹ (WBS) and assign budget to each work package ², the lowest level of the WBS. Next he or she will create a schedule showing the calendar time it will take to complete the work. This overall plan is baseline (this is the planned value) and used to measure performance throughout the project. As each work package is completed (earned) it is compared with planned value, showing the work achieved against plan. A variance to the plan is recorded as a time or schedule deviation.
It is necessary to get the actual costs incurred for the project from the organizations' accounting system. This cost is compared with the earned value to show an overrun or under run.
Earned Value provides the project manager with an objective way of measuring performance and predicting future outcomes. This can enable him or her to report progress with greater confidence and highlight any overrun earlier. This in turn, enables the management team to make cost and time allocation decisions earlier than would otherwise be the case.
It is true that past performance is a good indicator of future performance. Earned Value is a useful tool for predicting the outcome of projects in terms of time to completion, cost to completion and expected final costs.
Earned Value is also known as Performance Measurement, Management by Objectives, Budgeted Cost of Work Performed and Cost Schedule Control Systems.
1.4 Project manager
A leader is a person who directs and mentors other people. He interprets the group objectives and led them towards the fulfillment of the objectives. He must provide a way to the group performing under him. Leadership is an important element for a manager. A manager has it guide his troops at different levels in the enterprise.
A project leader should be a responsible person. He should stand by his decision and has to be ready for the related consequences. He should take decision wisely and for the betterment of the project. A team leader should be able to interact with his team in a friendly ways in order to extract their maximum output for the project.
Four categories of qualifications can be listed for the successful project manager. Those are personal characteristics, behavioral skills, general skills, and technical skills.
- Flexible and adaptable
- Preference for initiative and leadership
- Confidence, persuasiveness, verbal fluency
- Effective communicator and integrator
- Able to balance technical solutions with time, cost, and human factors
- Well-organized and disciplined
- A generalist rather than a specialist
- Able to devote most of his time to planning and controlling
- Able to identify problems and to make decisions
- Able to devote the time and effort and to maintain a proper balance in use of time
These characteristics are important because of the environment where the project manager works and the responsibilities and restrictions placed on the role. Obviously, project managers must be able to work in situations where there are constants dead-lines, great uncertainty, start ups and close outs, and constant change in goals, tasks, people, and relationships. At the same time, they must be able to gain the respect, trust, and confidence of others.
A project manager needs strong behavioral and interpersonal skills. In particular, he must be an active listener, active communicator, and able to capitalize on informal communication channels. To be an active listener, a project manager must master the art of questioning for clarification and paraphrasing to ensure he understands verbal messages. He must know how to build trust, promote team spirit, and reward corporation through praise and credit (often the only forms of reward he has). To be able to facilitate communication and integrate technical work he has to know the jargon of the specialists.
General Business Skills
The project manager is, after all, a manager and so should have general business skills also. These should include:
- Understanding of the organization and the business
- Understanding of general management-marketing, control, contract work, purchasing, law, personal administration, and (in profit environments) the general concept of profitability
- Ability t translates business requirements into project and system requirements.
- Strong, active, continuous interest in teaching, training, and developing subordinates
To make informed decisions, project managers' must be able to grasp the technical aspect of the project. In non-or low-technology environments, understanding can be developed through experience and informal training. In high-technology projects, qualifications are more rigorous, usually including a career molded in the technology environment and knowledge of many fields of science or engineering. (John. M. Nicholas, 2001)
Although project managers seldom to technical analysis, they must be technically qualified so as to formulate and make technical judgments. In a technical project, the project manager:
Must be capable of both integration and analysis, and must understand that the rigorous training of professional technologies with its emphasis on analysis sometimes impairs their integrative ability.
The ability to communicate with people at all levels is one of the important skills by project managers. He should have a clear communication about goals, responsibilities, performance, expectations and feedback.
There is a great deal of value placed on openness and directness. The project leader is also the team's link to the larger organization. The leader must have the ability to effectively negotiate and use persuasion when necessary to ensure the success of the team and project. Through effective communication, project leaders support individual and team achievements by creating explicit guidelines for accomplishing results and for the career advancement of team members.
One of the most important things a project leader must remember is that his or her actions, and not words, set the modus operandi for the team. Good leadership demands commitment to, and demonstration of, ethical practices. Creating standards for ethical behavior for oneself and living by these standards, as well as rewarding those who exemplify these practices, are responsibilities of project leaders. Leadership motivated by self-interest does not serve the well being of the team. Leadership based on integrity represents nothing less than a set of values others share, behavior consistent with values and dedication to honesty with self and team members.
Plain and simple, we don't like leaders who are negative - they bring us down. We want leaders with enthusiasm, with a bounce in their step, with a can-do attitude. We want to believe that we are part of an invigorating journey - we want to feel alive. Enthusiastic leaders are committed to their goals and express this commitment through optimism. Leadership emerges as someone expresses such confident commitment to a project that others want to share his or her optimistic expectations. Enthusiasm is contagious and effective leaders know it.
Simply put, to enlist in another's cause, we must believe that that person knows what he or she is doing. Leadership competence does not however necessarily refer to the project leader's technical abilities in the core technology of the business. As project management continues to be recognized as a field in and of itself, project leaders will be chosen based on their ability to successfully lead others rather than on technical expertise, as in the past. Having a winning track record is the surest way to be considered competent. Expertise in leadership skills is another dimension in competence. The ability to challenge, inspire, enable, model and encourage must be demonstrated if leaders are to be seen as capable and competent.
Team building skill
A team builder can greatest be defined as a strong person who provides the material that holds the team together in common purpose toward the right objective. In order for a team to progress from a group of strangers to a single cohesive unit, the leader must understand the process and dynamics required for this transformation. He or she must also know the appropriate leadership style to use during each stage of team development. The leader must also have an understanding of the different team players styles and how to capitalize on each at the proper time, for the problem at hand.
Good problem solver
Although an effective leader is said to share problem-solving responsibilities with the team, we expect our project leaders to have excellent problem-solving skills themselves. They have a “fresh, creative response to here-and-now opportunities,” and not much concern with how others have performed them.
Flexible and adaptable
A project manager is not so rigid that he can't make adjustments in the game plan to reach his intended goal. He cheerfully meets a crisis head on, knowing that there are always to resolve a challenge.
Ability to Delegate tasks
Trust is an essential element in the relationship of a project leader and his or her team. You demonstrate your trust in others through your actions - how much you check and control their work, how much you delegate and how much you allow people to participate. Individuals who are unable to trust other people often fail as leaders and forever remain little more that micro-managers, or end up doing all of the work themselves.
Pressure handling skills
In a perfect world, projects would be delivered on time, under budget and with no major problems or obstacles to overcome. But we don't live in a perfect world projects have problems. A project manager with a hardly attitude will take these problems in stride. When managers encounter a stressful event, they consider it interesting, they feel they can influence the outcome and they see it as an opportunity.
Every project manager should have a vision, a vision of what he wants the project to be like, a vision of how to get things done and a vision of the near future of the project. And he needs to be able to convey this vision to his team members. Only when there is vision is there going to be real involvement on the part of the project manager and thus involvement on part of the team members. This is when the team members and project manager start feeling like a part of the organization and not just the project.
(John. M. Nicholas, 2001).
As healthcare executives work to increase efficiency and decrease costs in a dynamic healthcare environment, they often undertake projects such as technology implementation, operational and process improvements and facility planning. These projects typically require the formation of collaborative teams comprising hospital leadership and staff as well as project managers and support staff from vendors and outside consulting firms. Executives must be prepared to establish efficient project teams that focus on communication and collaboration to achieve success.
The strategic alignment of organizations and individuals with differing expertise and backgrounds can be both beneficial and challenging. Despite potential barriers, project success can be attained using five simple steps.
Build the Right Team
The best project teams include stakeholders at all levels, from executives to those individuals at the front line. These individuals have the inside knowledge that will be critical to the success of technical experts from external organizations. Including front-line staff allows managers to remain involved in the project, while the true end users, either clinical or nonclinical, contribute directly to the project's success, including improved healthcare operations and outcomes. Front-line champions also may assist in training other staff during project implementation.
A corporate lead is imperative for project success. In addition to high-level managerial duties, individuals at the executive level are sources of morale and motivation. Success is more easily achieved when executives lead by example and promote the changes and behaviors expected from staff.
In addition, identifying an individual within the organization to serve as the project manager and single point of contact throughout the project is important. This individual is the liaison through which all communications pass, thus maintaining a communication structure. The project manager remains involved throughout the duration of the project and is ultimately accountable for all project details and deliverables.
Timely, accurate, useful and credible communication is critical to maintaining a cohesive team environment and achieving project success. Strategies, goals and project information should be communicated consistently throughout each stage of the process so all team members remain equally informed. To maintain quality communication, a collaborative project team must develop and cultivate group norms that encourage open sharing of information. A no surprises attitude must be adopted to foster a trusting work environment, which contributes to project success.
Busy schedules and multiple projects may challenge efforts for frequent communication. To ensure timely information delivery, be proactive about approaching potential obstacles. The team leader should schedule recurrent face-to-face meetings to encourage ongoing discussion and ensure that deliverables are completed within project time frames. When face-to-face meetings are not possible, conference calls should be used. In addition, the Internet allows project leads to communicate project status and successes to stakeholders. Blogs and other Web postings on facility Web sites make information sharing easy and convenient.
To achieve success, project team leaders must emphasize the importance of collaborative planning and goal setting. Groups that plan together are typically more successful, particularly because project plans, deliverables and goals are explicitly stated, and all expectations are communicated and understood. A collaborative team structure fosters a learning environment where experts can share knowledge and experiences. Individual input and participation furthers each party's interests in and commitment to the project.
Collaborative goal setting allows team members to achieve individual successes, while still contributing to the overarching project goals. A vendor, for instance, may focus on increased sales, while a facility focuses on overall cost reduction in a particular area. Collaborative project teams should develop a plan that motivates all entities to achieve success. In this example, the vendor might reward the organization for its increased purchases with a volume-based price reduction. If consultants are involved, they could be rewarded through an enhanced project management fee associated with increasing levels of success. By matching each team member's incentive to the overall goals, the entire team is further motivated to achieve success.
Recognize and Overcome Barriers
There are a number of potential barriers that arise when working in a team environment. However, the healthcare environment is especially challenging due to its unique makeup. Project leads may be challenged to facilitate relationships among people of very different backgrounds but who share the common goal of providing patient services. The relationships between clinical and nonclinical staff and management may be challenging to manage, even under the most optimal circumstances. Departments often are accustomed to working in silos; however, success only can be achieved if these units work together. This is particularly important across clinical and nonclinical departments. Nursing, for example, must work with finance and materials management to ensure successful acquisition and implementation of a new piece of equipment. Opening lines of communication across departments is a key step to overcoming the challenge presented by separated departments.
Project team leaders must also anticipate barriers that may exist within the scope of a project, due, in part, to the mixed nature of a project team. Potential challenges might include:
- Goals and deliverables not being met
- Lack of time management and follow-up
- Clashing personalities
- Disagreements between experts-clinical versus technical
- Political challenges
Despite the variables that might contribute to project challenges, by communicating team goals and expectations openly and effectively, these barriers can be overcome.
1.4.3 Job Functions
The key to a successful project is in the planning. Creating a project plan is the first thing you should do when undertaking any kind of project.
Often project planning is ignored in favor of getting on with the work. However, many people fail to realize the value of a project plan in saving time, money and many problems.
This article looks at a simple, practical approach to project planning. On completion of this guide, you should have a sound project planning approach that you can use for future projects.
A project is successful when the needs of the stakeholders have been met. A stakeholder is anybody directly or indirectly impacted by the project.
As a first step, it is important to identify the stakeholders in your project. It is not always easy to identify the stakeholders of a project, particularly those impacted indirectly. Examples of stakeholders are:
- The project sponsor.
- The customer who receives the deliverables.
- The users of the project outputs.
- The project manager and project team.
Once you understand who the stakeholders are, the next step is to find out their needs. The best way to do this is by conducting stakeholder interviews. Take time during the interviews to draw out the true needs that create real benefits. Often stakeholders will talk about needs that aren't relevant and don't deliver benefits. These can be recorded and set as a low priority.
The next step, once you have conducted all the interviews, and have a comprehensive list of needs is to priorities them. From the prioritized list, create a set of goals that can be easily measured. A technique for doing this is to review them against the SMART principle. This way it will be easy to know when a goal has been achieved.
Once you have established a clear set of goals, they should be recorded in the project plan. It can be useful to also include the needs and expectations of your stakeholders.
This is the most difficult part of the planning process completed. It's time to move on and look at the project deliverables.
Using the goals you have defined in step 1, create a list of things the project needs to deliver in order to meet those goals. Specify when and how each item must be delivered.
Add the deliverables to the project plan with an estimated delivery date. More accurate delivery dates will be established during the scheduling phase, which is next.
Create a list of tasks that need to be carried out for each deliverable identified in step 2. For each task identify the following:
- The amount of effort (hours or days) required to complete the task.
- The resource that will carry out the task.
Once you have established the amount of effort for each task, you can work out the effort required for each deliverable, and an accurate delivery date. Update your deliverables section with the more accurate delivery dates.
At this point in the planning, you could choose to use a software package such as Microsoft Project to create your project schedule. Alternatively, use one of the many free templates available. Input all of the deliverables, tasks, durations and the resources who will complete each task.
A common problem discovered at this point, is when a project has an imposed delivery deadline from the sponsor that is not realistic based on your estimates. If you discover that this is the case, you must contact the sponsor immediately. The options you have in this situation are:
- Renegotiate the deadline (project delay).
- Employ additional resources (increased cost).
- Reduce the scope of the project (less delivered).
- Use the project schedule to justify pursuing one of these options.
Use the project schedule to justify pursuing one of these options.
This section deals with plans you should create as part of the planning process. These can be included directly in the plan.
Human Resource Plan
Identify by name, the individuals and organizations with a leading role in the project. For each, describe their roles and responsibilities on the project.
Next, describe the number and type of people needed to carry out the project. For each resource detail start dates, estimated duration and the method you will use for obtaining them.
Create a single sheet containing this information.
Create a document showing that needs to be kept informed about the project and how they will receive the information. The most common mechanism is a weekly or monthly progress report, describing how the project is performing, milestones achieved and work planned for the next period.
Risk Management Plan
Risk management is an important part of project management. Although often overlooked, it is important to identify as many risks to your project as possible, and be prepared if something bad happens.
Here are some examples of common project risks:
- Time and cost estimates too optimistic.
- Customer review and feedback cycle too slow.
- Unexpected budget cuts.
- Unclear roles and responsibilities.
- Stakeholder input is not sought, or their needs are not properly understood.
- Stakeholders changing requirements after the project has started.
- A stakeholder adding new requirements after the project has started.
- Poor communication resulting in misunderstandings, quality problems and rework.
- Lack of resource commitment.
Risks can be tracked using a simple risk log. Add each risk you have identified to your risk log; write down what you will do in the event it occurs, and what you will do to prevent it from occurring. Review your risk log on a regular basis, adding new risks as they occur during the life of the project. Remember, when risks are ignored they don't go away.
Congratulations. Having followed all the steps above, you should have a good project plan. Remember to update your plan as the project progresses, and measure progress against the plan.
1.4.4 Risk Management and Contingency Planning
All digitization projects involve an element of risk as their success is based on the reliability of digital technology, the employment and retention of skilled staff and possibly third party contractors. Even the most rigorously planned projects contain uncertainties, or have elements which have the potential not to go as planned. In many respects the project plan provides an 'ideal world' outline of the technical developments and processes of a project working to time, along a clear workflow carried out by the project team.
Unfortunately in the 'real world', outside of the carefully crafted plan, unexpected events can and are likely to occur. Planning for and managing these unexpected events is thus a fundamental element of a successful digitization project. This paper serves as an introduction to risk management and contingency planning and outlines some easy-to-apply techniques that can be used to analyze risks, identify ways of dealing with unexpected events most effectively, and minimizing their potential effect on the successful production of the digital resource.
A Risk or a Liability?
Risks are generally perceived in a negative way but in fact they are merely events or circumstances that might occur and if they did, would affect the original plan or scope of the digitization project. They certainly hold the potential to detrimentally affect the project but they can also affect the project in a beneficial way if they are properly planned for, responded to and managed. The “constructive suggestion” is perhaps an example of a risk that can be both beneficial and detrimental. Beneficial in that it may result in a significant improvement in the functionality of the end product, but at the same time detrimental in that it has a heavy demand on resources.
In contrast liabilities are events or circumstances that do adversely affect the success of the project. For example, the discovery that the software employed in a project cannot support a particular browser represents a risk to the project. This risk only becomes a liability if it is not effectively managed. However, the use of alternative software could present the project with the opportunity to improve the functionality of its digital resource. Therefore, it is not helpful to always consider risk management in purely negative terms, because the end product of a risk is not always a fundamental problem but an opportunity.
Risk management is a systematic way of identifying potential risks within a project, gauging or estimating the probabilities of these risks occurring, to then develop strategies to manage these risks. In the commercial sector considerable resources are allocated to carry out quantitative risk assessments. Such resources are rarely available to publicly funded digitization projects, nevertheless effective risk management plans can be put in place by adopting a systematic process of identifying and evaluating potential risks and using this analysis to develop strategies to manage and control them. This process can be broken down into three main processes: assessment, implementation and monitoring.
Risk assessment is the process by which potential risks to a project are identified and assessed, and appropriate responses to these risks are developed. Firstly, a list of the uncertainties involved in the project is produced. Secondly, the likelihood of these uncertainties occurring and the relative impact they could have are assessed. Thirdly, the risks are prioritized and strategies developed in order to minimize their seriousness.
t is not too difficult to think of a number of 'generic risks' involved in digital resource creation. Listed below are the main potential areas of risks for a vast majority of digitization projects:
- Creeping scope,
- Tasks involving third parties,
- Use of unfamiliar technologies, or emerging new technologies,
- Any part of the plan based on assumption rather than fact,
- Funders requirements,
- Institutional restraints,
- Insufficient skill levels,
- Recruitment and retention of staff,
- Relevant staff development,
- Supply of equipment,
- Equipment failure,
- Equipment support and knowledge,
- Changes in technology,
- Digital rights management,
- Clear workflow,
- Quality control,
- Undefined goals,
- Compliance to standards,
- Preservation and sustainability of resource,
Risk assessment is not simply about identifying risks so that the project team and stakeholders are aware of them. It also involves assessing the potential severity of these risks, thereby identifying where to most effectively focus attention and resources in managing them.
In order to assess the seriousness of a potential risk it is necessary to estimate the rough probability of it happening and the impact, should it occur, on the project timetable, project costs and end quality of the digital resource.
Without the benefit of a quantitative assessment of the probability of an event occurring, an assessment remains largely subjective and has to be based mainly on common sense and experience. As such the assessment has to be ongoing and evaluations of the probability of risks happening revised as the project proceeds and the likelihood of risks happening becomes clearer.
Impact is the cost, time or quality effect a risk can have on a project. Whilst not a definitive guide Table 1 provides some basic guidelines on how to weight the impact of an event on a project.
Planning a Risk Response
Decisions on the best course to take to in response particular risks should be based upon the risk analysis and ideally should take into account the benefit and cost of the risk response in relation to the probability and impact of the original risk. Ideally those risks with the highest level of seriousness should be considered first.
Types of Risk Response
All techniques to manage the risks fall into one or more of the following five major categories - avoidance, reduction, transference, deferral and retention.
Also known as risk removal or risk prevention, risk avoidance involves altering the original plans for the project so that particularly risky elements are removed. It could include deciding not to perform an activity that carries a high risk. Less drastically it could involve altering the activity in such a way that the risk is removed, for example OHPR ensures that multiple backup copies of images are taken thereby avoiding their loss.
Adopting such avoidance techniques may seem an obvious way to deal with all risks. However, often the areas of the project that involve high risks are also the areas of the project that potentially contain the highest worth or the best value for money. Avoiding such risks may also result in removing potentially the 'best bits' of a digital resource, and an alternative strategy that retains these risks may be more appropriate.
Risk reduction or risk mitigation involves the employment of methods that reduce the probability of a risk occurring, or reducing the severity of the impact of a risk on the outcome of the project. The loss of highly skilled staff is a considerable risk in any digitization project and not one that can (legally) be totally avoided. Suitable risk mitigation could involve the enforcement of a notice period, comprehensive documentation allowing for replacement staff to continue with the job at hand and adequate management oversight and the use of staff development programmers to encourage staff to stay.
Risk transfer moves the ownership of the risk to a third party normally by contract. This also moves the impact of the risk away from the digitization project itself to this third party, for example ensuring that the Coring of digital text is quality checked by the supplier.
The impact a risk can have on a project is not constant throughout the life of a project. Risk deferral entails deferring aspects of the project to a date when a risk is less likely to happen. For example managing the expectations users have about the content and delivery of a resource can be time-consuming, one way to reduce this risk is by not making a web resource available until user testing is complete.
Whilst a certain number of the risks to the project originally identified can be removed by changing the project plan or dealt with by transferring the responsibility of the risk to third parties inevitably certain risks have to be accepted as a necessary part of the project. All risks that have not been avoided or transferred are retained or accepted risks by default.
It is therefore important to develop appropriate plans outlining how these residual risks will be dealt with should they occur.
Choosing the right response
Whilst most risk responses fit into the categories listed above, in the real world risk responses are rarely confined to just one category. Decisions about the best course of action to take should be based upon the potential seriousness of the risk and the estimated cost of potential responses. The following examples provide a very rough guide to appropriate responses; however, the level of acceptable risk must be set according to each project's circumstances:
High Probability, High Impact: this group of risks is more likely to be appropriately dealt with by avoidance or transference. At the very least steps should be put in place to mitigate the risk and they are likely to require the most rigorous contingency planning.
Low Probability, High Impact for this group of risks avoidance responses may be appropriate and the effect of the risks, if they should occur, be mitigated, and possible contingency plans devised.
High Probability, Low Impact. The probability of these risks should be mitigated and possible contingency plans developed.
Low Probability, Low Impact. The effect could be mitigated however the costs of a response might outweigh the potential impact of the risk to the project. In these cases it may be more appropriate to be aware of the risk and to accept the effects it will result in if it should happen.
For residual risks that may occur contingency plans should be developed in case they do. Contingency plans should be appropriate and commensurate to the impact of the original risk. In many cases it is more cost effective to allocate a certain amount of resources to mitigate a risk rather than start by developing a contingency plan which, if necessary to implement, is likely to be more expensive. The number of scenarios likely to require a full contingency plan depends upon the project. Contingency planning should not be confused with the normal re-planning necessary to react to minor changes in the developing project plan.
Once the combination of responses to be used for each risk has been decided all the planned methods for dealing with the effects of the risks should be put in place. For those high risks for which an avoidance technique has been chosen, the project plan should be amended accordingly and the remaining risks outlined in a risk log or register.
The risk log or register is an effective tool which allows project members to record the identified risks, analyze their severity, and outline a response to be taken should they occur. The fields that it could contain are:
- Unique ID
- Expected level of risk once mitigating actions complete
- Early Warning Signs
Identifying, analyzing and planning for risk is an important planning stage of any project. However, risk management does not stop once the risks have been identified. Initial risk management plans will never be perfect. Practice, experience, and actual loss, will necessitate changes in the plan and inform decisions about how to most effectively deal with certain risks. Risk identification and analysis should be ongoing throughout the project but particularly at project start-up and milestones. The best risk planning becomes useless unless a clear picture is maintained of how the project and its associated potential risks are developing. A reliable reading or assessment of a project's situation can only be achieved through iteration, in other words, the continuous repetition of all steps of the risk management process. It is important to keep track of identified risks, to revisit the risk assessment to monitor the effectiveness of the chosen responses and to identify new or changed risks and to make the necessary changes to the risk log. This will mean that when a risk does occur your chosen response will be appropriate and more likely to be implemented effectively. It also means that you can communicate the risk to key stakeholders and demonstrate how it was anticipated and dealt with. A practical example of a risk monitoring action was the creation and implementation.
Risk management is an essential component of managing a digitization project, which, if applied and employed properly, can bring excellent dividends to the project through the reduction of programmatic and technical risks. It is also a systematic process that should involve the original assessment of risks associated with the project, the implementation of changes to the plans of the project if the risks involved are too high, and the transference and mitigation of high risk areas. For those areas of risk that are acceptable it means the development of appropriate contingency plans. Risk management, however, is not an event but a process and the identification, analysis and tracking of risk should be continued throughout the life cycle of the project.
However, whilst risk management is undoubtedly important in digitization projects prioritizing too highly the risk management processes itself could potentially preclude a project ever starting or completing. This is especially true if other work is suspended until the risk management process is considered complete. Therefore risk analysis should always be considered in conjunction with the overall aims of the project. If a project's value is dependent on a high level of risk then this level of risk must be considered acceptable. Risk analysis and management will always be a mixture of judgment and pragmatism.
Task - 02
Project management principles
Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific engineering project goals and objectives. It is sometimes conflated with program management, however technically that is actually a higher level construction: a group of related and somehow interdependent Intranet development projects.
A project is a temporary endeavor, having a defined beginning and end.
- Undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives
- Usually to bring about beneficial change or added value. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast to business as usual,
- This is repetitive, permanent or semi-permanent functional work to produce products or services.
The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the engineering project goals and objectives while honoring the preconceived project constraints. Typical constraints are scope, time, and cost. These are the co - principles of the project management.
For analytical purposes, the time required to produce a deliverable is estimated using several techniques. One method is to identify tasks needed to produce the deliverables documented in a Work Breakdown Structure. The work effort for each task is estimated and those estimates are rolled up into the final deliverable estimate.
Project Time Management processes include:
- Activity Definition
- Activity Sequencing
- Activity Resource Estimating
- Activity Duration Estimating
- Schedule Development
- Schedule Control
Activity Definition Inputs-Enterprise environmental factors, Organizational process assets, Project Scope statement, Work Breakdown Structure, WBS Dictionary, and Project Management Plan.
Activity Sequencing Inputs-Project Scope statement, Activity list, Activity attributes, Milestones list, Approved change requests.
Activity Resource Estimating
Activity Resource Estimating Inputs-Enterprise Environmental factoring, Organizational process assets, Activity list, Activity attributes, Resources availability, Project management plan.
Activity Duration Estimating
Activity Duration Estimating Inputs-Enterprise environmental factors, organization process assets, Project scope statement, activity list, activity attributes, activity resource requirements, resource calendars, project management plan, risk register, activity cost estimates.
Schedule Development Inputs-Organizational process assets, Project scope Statement, Activity list, Activity attributes, project Schedule Network diagrams, Activity resource requirements, Resource calendars, Activity duration estimates, project management plan, risk register.
Schedule Control Input-Schedule management plan, schedule baseline, performance reports, and approved change requests.
To develop an approximation of a project cost depends on several variables including: resources, work packages such as labor rates and mitigating or controlling influencing factors that create cost variances tools used in cost are, risk management, cost contingency, cost escalation, and indirect costs.
But beyond this basic accounting approach to fix and variable costs, the economic cost that must be considered includes worker skill and productivity which is calculated using various project cost estimate tools. This is important when companies hire temporary or contract employees or outsource work.
Cost Process Areas
- Cost Estimating is an approximation of the cost of all resources needed to complete activities.
- Cost budgeting aggregating the estimated costs of resources, work packages and activities to establish a cost baseline.
- Cost Control - factors that create cost fluctuation and variance can be influenced and controlled using various cost management tools.
Project Management Cost Estimating Tools
- Analogous Estimating-Using the cost of similar project to determine the cost of the current project
- Determining Resource Cost rates-The cost of goods and labor by unit gathered through estimates or estimation.
- Bottom Up estimating-Using the lowest level of work package detail and summarizing the cost associated with it. Then rolling it up to a higher level aimed and calculating the entire cost of the project.
- Parametric Estimating-Measuring the statistical relationship between historical data and other variable or flow.
- Vendor Bid Analysis-taking the average of several bids given by vendors for the project.
- Reserve Analysis-Aggregate the cost of each activity on the network path then add a contingency or reserve to the end result of the analysis by a factor determined by the project manager.
- Cost of Quality Analysis-Estimating the cost at the highest quality for each activity.
Requirements specified to achieve the end result. The overall definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish, and a specific description of what the end result should be or accomplish. A major component of scope is the quality of the final product. The amount of time put into individual tasks determines the overall quality of the project. Some tasks may require a given amount of time to complete adequately, but given more time could be completed exceptionally. Over the course of a large project, quality can have a significant impact on time and cost.
Like any human undertaking, projects need to be performed and delivered under certain constraints. Traditionally, these constraints have been listed as "scope," "time," and "cost". These are also referred to as the "Project Management Triangle," where each side represents a constraint. One side of the triangle cannot be changed without affecting the others. A further refinement of the constraints separates product "quality" or "performance" from scope, and turns quality into a fourth constraint.
The time constraint refers to the amount of time available to complete a project. The cost constraint refers to the budgeted amount available for the project. The scope constraint refers to what must be done to produce the project's end result. These three constraints are often competing constraints: increased scope typically means increased time and increased cost, a tight time constraint could mean increased costs and reduced scope, and a tight budget could mean increased time and reduced scope.
The discipline of Project Management is about providing the tools and techniques that enable the project team to organize their work to meet these constraints. When concerning about the project management co-principles, there is another principle that affect to the final delivery of the project. That is “Quality”.
Quality can be taken as a constraint, but of course once the final delivery of the project is done. Constraints are not dependent from each other. Reaching a higher level of quality will cost you more money. If you want to use less time, you need more people.
Quality is a product requirement, and size can be viewed as the scope of the project. The key tools and techniques used in the constraint quality are:
Cost benefit analysis
- Cost of quality
- Control charts
- Bench marking
- Design of experiments
- Statistical sampling
- Flow charting
2.2 Success and Failure factors
Critical success factor (CSF) is the term for an element that is necessary for an organization or project to achieve its mission. It is a critical factor or activity required for ensuring the success of a company or an organization.
Critical success factors are those few things that must go well to ensure success for a manager or an organization, and, therefore, they represent those managerial or enterprise area, that must be given special and continual attention to bring about high performance. CSFs include issues vital to an organization's current operating activities and to its future success.
Working out what success means to your client for their project is a broad subject. Using the following success factors as a guide will make it easier for you to get a sense of what really matters to your client. It does become slightly more difficult when you have more than one client but I'll deal with that later.
The main success factors are listed below. They have been selected to deal with the obvious elements of the project, e.g. budget and timeline, as well as some of the less obvious factors such as quality and team satisfaction.
- Have satisfied stakeholders
- Meet the project's objectives/requirements
- Meet an agreed budget
- Deliver on time
- Add value
- Meet quality requirements
- Sense of professional satisfaction for the team
The top 5 factors found in successful projects are:
- User Involvement
- Executive Management Support
- Clear Statement of Requirements
- Proper Planning
- Realistic Expectations
There are some characteristics identified for a successful projects, are broadly classified into 3 categories:
- Project participants
- Communication and information sharing and exchange
- The project management/system development process
Two ingredient frequently identified as essential for project success are the commitment and the involvement of key project participants such as top management, the project manager, the project team and the user.
Top management commitment is essential to project success because it influences acceptance or resistance from others on the project. Management shows commitment by supporting the project- Allocating necessary resources, giving the project manager adequate authority and influence. Ex:
- Select subcontractors
- Approve overtime
- Select team personnel
- Relax specifications, etc.
In successful projects, the project manager is confident about top management's support and satisfied with the levels of responsibility and authority conferred him.
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