Modern construction project management

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IINTRODUCTION:

The beginning of the application of modern construction project management started from the early 1950s. At the beginning of 1960s many giant companies became aware of importance of project management. United States space programme i.e. NASA was one of the first corporations to majorly use project management to tackle many of its important issues. That was the true beginning of project management. Leadership and organizational politics exist in every part of the project and can have a significant influence on the projects. Debates overruled on the socio-economic and abstruse results. Even though the BOK touches some of these Issues in its 3rd edition, but the one line set aside for tangible environmental consideration and technical issues cannot be considered sufficient enough for Issues as big as they are. One of the bigger predicaments with BOK is that the earliest edition was composed utilizing hearsay testimonies rather than from testimonies gained through experience. Although in the 3rd edition, research contributed profoundly. But it is still not clear as to exactly how much practical data has been used.

ISSUES NOT ADDRESSED:

The main issue was the book i.e. PMBOK was a problem indeed. PMBOK is a book which is referred to be as a problem solver by all project managers. But has it given the complete solution for all the issues? It hasn't, otherwise PMBOK would have figured out all the issues. Issues relating to enhancement of personal and professional relationship were not completely resolved. All the explanations' are not realistic i.e. they cannot be employed at every situation. All the features given in PMBOK cannot be implemented at all circumstances. A few issues have not been addressed in the 3rd edition of the BOK. This may appear excessively promising however, as these are the vital issues which tend to be an important part of project management. And these moldable issues however remain and will remain extrinsic to the extent of the PMBOK or the APM BOK considerably. An issue as common and circumscribing, but still failing to capture the authentic challenges of project management is not something which can be resolved in a speedy manner and it is also likely that this issue may never be resolved in all respects. At present, there are many Project Management Societies like the APM or the PMI and because of this there isn't one universal BOK that is used in common amongst them. This is a very big problem as the likelihood of variations between different BOKs will go against the integrity of the profession.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION:

The most attainable solution is to rename the BOK itself, this may seem to be an effort to bypass the real issue, instead of an authentic solution. This name change would ensure that all the readers would not consider it as the bible for project management, but one which once read will contribute the reader in becoming a great project manager. And through this it would also be made clear that other sources of written matter and real life experience must be sought, along with the BOK acting as a guide, all along, to help become a successful project manager. Another possibility is to divide the BOK into many volumes and make room for issues like Leadership, Office Politics and the number of moldable skills into a separate volume of the BOK. This would separate the hard hypothetical aspects of project management from the moldable issues and also allow the BOK to remain intact, while the missing issues so vital to Project management can be included in a new volume. Setting up a single BOK would also increase the integrity of the document and also that of the profession.

WHAT IS PLANNING?

Project Management is the discipline of planning, organizing and managing resources in order to successfully achieve certain specific tasks and goals. It is sometimes merged with program management for better management of the projects. Every project has a certain beginning and end. It has a fixed duration for its completion. The main intention is to accomplish all the project objectives without changing any of the preliminary ideas. In a particular project all the members', participants and stakeholders play a very important role. Each aspect proves to be advantageous and disadvantageous depending upon its utility and method of application. Project management is a simple method to procure objectives for finalizing the goals. It applies a very traditional method or approach of completing a particular project. The stages include project initiation stage, project planning or design stage, project execution or production stage, project monitoring and controlling systems, project completion stage. These stages vary according to the type of projects. It is no longer a unique mode of management and is swiftly becoming a new mode of managing business. Major set of issues which led to the use of project management are compression of the product life cycle, global competition, knowledge explosion, corporate downsizing, increased customer focus, small projects representing big problems. Project management reduces the threat and increases the chances of success. At the same time as project scheduling models were being developed, technologies for project cost estimating, cost management, and engineering economics were evolving, with pioneering work by Hans Lang and others.

Traditional project management involves very distinct project life cycle phases are easily decipherable. Tasks are completed one after another in an orderly sequence, requiring a significant part of the project to be planned up front. The need for project management was driven by businesses that realised the benefits of organizing work around projects and the critical need to communicate and co-ordinate work across departments and professions. Project Management varies according to scale and organization and has its specific tasks and goals to reach for. A systematic approach must be brought to use while managing a project. A project team must be built according to the requirements of the project. This project team would administer and finish the project work on time. Each team would include their respective project managers to impart resources and exchange knowledge. Administrative support services such as human resources, information systems, purchasing agents, maintenance and others must be provided in order to enhance the project. Functional managers play a key role in the success of the project. They play an important role to reduce the disruptions, if any in the project. Top management plays an important role in authorizing the funds and making significant adjustments in the scope and progress of the work. Project sponsors are the main pillars behind the financial backup of the project. Their main job is to use their authority and get the sanction for the project. Contractors are the ones who perform the actual work of completing the project. Poor work and schedule slips can affect the work detrimentally. Other agencies also provide great support for the completion of the project work. They help in preventing any sort of interruption and adjournment in the project.

WHAT IS LEADERSHIP?

Leadership cannot be achieved forcefully, it has to be earned. Leaders are the one who makes people believe that they have got that zing in them, which alleviate them to new heights. It can be achieved by creating trust among people and make them believe that you are someone they can depend upon. A leader must be affable and available. A leader must be able to show directions and the team members. Never take credit for your teams work. Praise about their work with your customers and your managers. Every member must be given equal importance and right methods must be employed to know the team well. A leader thrives for results not for the means used to achieve those results. A leader has vision and he has to know the methods to share it with other team members to achieve results. A project manager plays a key role in improving the overall manageable tasks by building up a strong team to work upon that particular project. Project managers must know how to calculate and monitor risks to the project and assuage them. His continuous efforts must be to motivate his team members. As no project goes according to plans every project manager must know to adapt themselves to the different conditions. They are one of the most important constituents of the any project. The duty of any project manager is to bring the project back to its normal form. They must have necessary technical and administrative knowledge.

Psychologically, they must be results-oriented, self-starters with a high tolerance for ambiguity. In a particular project many things can go wrong which can become the major causes of a project failure and they are called as barriers. Poor communication, difference in opinion, harsh weather conditions, union strikes, personality conflicts, improper management, inappropriately set goals and objectives. A project manager must have a range of skills such as good control over the project constituents, must be a strong leader, an effective communicator, should have positive influence on other working members, should be able to resolve disagreements, achieve objectives and goals, manage the contract properly i.e. contract management, estimating, should have innovative ideas for beneficial management of the company, loyal to the company, should be flexible at his approach, should be problem solver. People, conflict and time management are other essentials of being a competent project manager. The levels of commerce have become more complicated and they have become more interconnected. New techniques should be invented to perform new developments in any project. One of the most remarkable or successful achievement in the field of project management is that it is gradually being informed by project managers all over the world. Project manager must know to deal with political tide of the organization and the stakeholder community.

CROSSCULTURAL IMPACT:

The definition of culture given by scholar Traindis is that," Culture is a subjective perception of the human-made part of the environment. And this includes the categorization of social stimuli, associations, beliefs, attitudes, roles and values individual share. Ineradicable and orderly arrangement of cultural behaviours can be so delicate as to completely decline allusive articulations." There are some cultural issues that have to be solved. Some cultures invite very direct speech, which sometimes tend to create problems. Some cultures follow a very formal hierarchy in terms of project communication, while other cultures communicate at the same level within an organization. As a project manager, our project will work within a particular cultural environment, and will necessarily thus reflect that culture, both explicitly and implicitly. Cultural differences would surely have a tremendous impact on the future of the project. Every project manager has to keep in mind that there are certain issues that have to be solved by thinking tactically. Any of us who have travelled even to a neighbouring country have likely encountered some form of cultural influence different than their own. It helps us to understand others views and are more accurate than ours. Since project-life is so unsettled, there's a good chance that if we become one into the field, we would either find ourselves working in a variety of cultures, or working with people who reflect a collection of multicultural perspectives. Information about these varieties of cultural horizons will not only produce good project mangers but would also make them an effective communicator and listener. It is very difficult to handle the different sort of pressures for project managers while taking up an international assignment.

CROSSCULTURAL DIFFERENCES:

In any country two factors play very important role for smooth functioning of the project i.e. project ingredients and local laws. Those project managers coming from other countries have to enhance their capability to adjust, accept and should have a high regard for their customs and religion. It's totally different, working in Asia as compared to work in United States. There is a lot of difference in the working styles of both the countries. Asians do not get pleased with loud and boisterous manners and they would like to keep a greater physical distance while working as compared to Americans. Americans do not prefer to give an emotional touch in all the business events as compared to Asians. Asians think that usage of local language would be beneficial for inimitable profit for the business. Americans stand by to their decision of usage of English as their standard business language. Asians depend more on collective or organisational groups show complete loyalty to that group. They perform collectively in groups in order to stay away from risks. Americans strongly believe in individual performance. They do not prefer working in groups as their culture does not place a high value on these working methods. Asians does not mull over agreements as zealously as Americans. Americans place high significance on contractual safeguards as compared to Asians. Asians usually adopt long term orientation than Americans. In Asians individual relationships are given more priority as compared to Americans. Asians aggrandize to solve a problem through adjustment and mediation.

The Indian Subcontinent and the West: Cross-Cultural Implications

Western

Non-Western

1. Christianity is involved with unconditional moral beliefs, differences between good and evil, and salvation of the soul.

1. Non-Western religions focus on virtue. Buddhism and Confucianism provide an ethical code of behaviour.

2. Society is built on legalistic contractual relationships.

2. Society is built on direct personal relationships.

3. They mostly depend on individualistic orientation.

3. Group orientation: It may be clan, caste and tribe.

4. Their behaviour is controlled by rules, punishments and rewards.

4. Their behaviour is controlled by group adaptation. Departures from the group norm are accompanied by feelings of shame.

5. Attribution groups are important (family, class, occupation).

5. Frame or groups are important (village, neighbourhood, company, region, and nation).

6. They have weak hierarchical structure.

6. They have strong hierarchical structure.

7. Important values are freedom and personal conscience.

7. Important values are security and obedience.

8. They need to self-assert themselves regularly.

8. There is a need for coordination.

9. Contractual relationships are based on rights and duties.

9. Personal relationships are based on mutual obligations and mutual dependence.

Source:http://www.geocities.com/krisnossamone/west_versus_india.htm

WHAT IS ORGANISATIONAL POLITICS ALL ABOUT?

Politics is a technique to influence or cajole for affecting the outcome of the result, decision and planning. In every organization there is an eloquent presence of politics. It many a times affects the funding of the projects. It happens when choosing of the project is not done properly and other properties are not properly defined. Projects should be selected only on the basis of authenticity and not under any political pressure. Politics can play a pivotal role in project selections. By working on mega projects many individuals can elevate their individual power. Project management isn't what it used to be. From who's on the team and where team members are located to the tasks they're expected to complete, project management is a changing discipline. Consider that project teams are increasingly dispersed across large areas, sometimes spanning the globe, and that team members are finding themselves in more partnerships with managed subcontractors and outsourcers (Brandel, 2006). All type of games is played to reach at great heights and achieve different goals.

TEAMWORK:

Established project management teams are utilized to design, develop and coexisting provisions and appurtenances. Project can be created within itself if ever individual takes on the leadership dynamism. The use of Management Support Teams (MST) has brought appreciable development majorly in two areas i.e. management of team members and the carrying out of leadership dynamism in the enterprise. Due to this people have realized about the management and leadership issues and opportunities they had missed before when traditional methods were used. Projects must be delivered within certain time limit, within cost constraint, within scope and must meet all the primary customer quality requirements. A project should always be done in teamwork and a connection with the customer requirements must be maintained; otherwise it proves to be a heavy financial and investment loss. One of the best examples of this was The Tran rapid Shanghai train which was termed as one of the best engineering accomplishment. It travels with a speed of 430kph from Pudong International airport to Shanghai's business centre in less than eight minutes. The main drawback of this superfast train is it carries only 400 to 700 passengers in a day but the capacity of the train is 453 passengers per trip. This loss is due to the high fare rates per ride. Most of the Chinese families cannot afford these high price rates. In this case the linkage between the final customer needs and the financial case was not given the foremost precedence. This project was not rewarding in terms of time and money as people were opting for other modes of transport.

Negotiation and Problem solving:

Negotiation is an exchange of ideas attempted to solve conflicts and issues. Negotiations can take place directly or with assistance; assisted negotiations are Mediation and Arbitration. Negotiations may happen around various issues, many times and many levels of the project. In an archetypal project, project team members are prone to negotiate for any of the following:

* Cost, Time and Scope.

* Contract Terms and Conditions

* Resources

It involves a blend of Defining Problems and Making decisions. Defining Problems requires differentiating between causes and symptoms. Problems can be both internal and external can be Technical, Managerial or Interpersonal. Examples for Problems:

* Internal-an essential team member is reassigned to different project.

* External-a permit required to begin work is delayed.

* Technical-different point of views about the best way of designing the product

* Managerial-a working group is not producing as per plan.

REFERENCES:

* Aguinis Herman, 2002. "The Search for Universals in Cross-Cultural Organisational Behaviour". Organisational Behaviour: The state of the science (2nd Ed) Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

· Pan Fan, K., Zhang, Zigang (2004), Cross-cultural challenges when doing business in China

* Management Review, 01295977, 2004 1st Half, Vol. 26, Issue 1. Extracted February 28, 2004 Business Source Premier at http://www.apollolibrary.com/databases.asp

* Sosik, John and Jung Dong, 2002. "Work-group characteristics and performance in collectivistic and individualistic cultures". The Journal of Social Psychology. Washington, pp 5-23.

* Weaver, K Mark, 2000. "Attitudes toward Cooperative Strategies: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Entrepreneurs", Journal of International Business Studies, 31, Fourth Quarter 2000: pp 591-609.

* Timofeev, Valery (2002), National Concepts and Globalization, TRANS; Dec2002, p159, 4p, 4 diagrams. Extracted February 28, 2004 from Business Source Premier at http://www.apollolibrary.com/databases.asp

* Ting-Toomey S, 1985. Toward a theory of conflict and culture. In WB Gudykunst, LP Stewart, S Ting-Toomey (Eds). Communication, Culture and Organizational Processes, pp 71-86. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

* Bhagat, Rabi S., Kedia, Ben L., Harveston, Paula D., Traindis, Harry C. (Apr2002), Cultural Variations in the cross border Transfer of Organizational Knowledge, Academy of Management Review; Apr2002, Vol. 27 Issue2. Extracted February 28, 2004 from Business Source Premier at http://www.apollolibrary.com/databases.asp

* Brandel, M (2006, January). What's Next in 2006: Project Management? Compuerworld Retrieved May5, 2007, from http://www.computerworld.com/managementtopics/management/story/0,10801,107305,00.html

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