Strategies for Successful Project Management
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Published: Wed, 07 Mar 2018
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 a
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