Brighton School of Business and Management Student Newsletter February 2010
Contributions from you, our students, are very welcome ~ if you have information, advice, website links, or ideas, that may be of help to other students, please send them to us.
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Personal & Career Development ~ Tip of the Month
As can be seen, this issue focuses on Project Management. We have chosen this because there is a visible, major shift in the skills and qualifications requirements of many major business sectors, towards project management, particularly in the developing countries around the world.
Our Tip of the Month is to investigate and analyse to what degree your organisation, your business sector, or your planned future sector, is adopting, turning to, demanding, project management skills to enhance, supplement, or replace traditional management skills.
It is almost certain that you will find there is a significant trend towards the adoption of project management approaches, methods, tools, & techniques, and this will increasingly be reflected in the experience, expertise, and qualifications required by employers when taking on personnel, and by clients when selecting providers.
As part of your personal, professional, and career development activity, it is now essential that you seriously consider gaining project management knowledge, skills, and, possibly, qualifications.
What is a Project?
For those of you who are knowledgeable about projects, this will be familiar to you, but may be a description that you can use in your induction for new project team members.
People have been undertaking projects since the earliest days of organized human activity. The hunting parties of our prehistoric ancestors were projects; they were temporary undertakings directed at the goal of obtaining meat for the community. Large complex projects have also been with us for a long time. The pyramids and the Great Wall of China were in their day of roughly the same dimensions as the Apollo Project to send man to the moon. We use the term project frequently in our daily conversations. Going hunting, building pyramids, moving offices, entering a new marketing sector, building a new airport, all share certain features that make them projects.
A project has distinctive attributes, which distinguish it from ongoing routine work or business operations. Projects are temporary in nature. They are not an everyday business process and have definitive start dates and end dates. This characteristic is important because a large part of the project effort is dedicated to ensuring that the project is completed at the appointed time. To do this, schedules are created showing when tasks should begin and end. Projects can last hours, days, weeks, months or years.
Projects exist to bring about a product or service that hasn’t existed before. In this sense, a project is unique. Unique means that this is new, this has never been done before. Maybe it’s been done in a very similar fashion before but never exactly in this way. For example, a car manufacturer is in the business of designing and assembling cars. Each new model that is designed and produced can be considered a project. The models differ from each other in their features and are marketed to people with various needs. However the actual assembly of the cars is considered an operation – a repetitive process that is followed for most makes and models. The same is true of services, where the design and implementation of a new service, or major variation, will be treated as a project, but once completed it becomes part of the portfolio of services that is managed operationally.
A project is completed when its goals and objectives are accomplished. It is these goals that drive the project and all the planning and implementation efforts are undertaken to achieve them.
A formal definition
A project is a temporary endeavour – with a planned beginning and end – which is undertaken to create a unique product, service or outcome.
The end is reached when the project’s objectives have been achieved, and the resulting new or changed process, product, or service, is absorbed into routine operational management activity.
Managing Projects Successfully
For those of you who are experienced in taking part in, or leading projects, you will recognise, nod wisely, and perhaps smile at some of these points ~ for those of you who don’t have experience of projects, this list should enlighten you as to what is involved in a project.
Four key planning points:
Do the right project. Using benefit cost analysis or ROI (return on investment) analysis, and looking at opportunity cost, look at the project that gives you the biggest value for your effort and is most aligned with your organisation’s strategy, moving you in the direction you want to go.
Define Scope (depth and breadth, and boundaries) clearly and precisely.
Plan the whole project. Make a plan for each of the nine areas.
Do good architecture. Work with words and pictures to bring people with different perspectives onto the same page, contributing to and committed to the project.
Prepare your team in just two steps:
Get the right team. Using a WBS (work breakdown structure), define the skills needed, and get people with those skills. Be honest about gaps, and close them by taking time to learn to get it done right.
Get the expertise you need. Know that being expert in one area means not being expert in other areas—sometimes closely related disciplines. Recognize that projects, being unique work, require learning from and collaborating with experts. Remember, hiring experts you can work can be a lot less expensive than not hiring experts you can work with.
Cover all the bases with the nine knowledge areas:
Scope. After defining scope clearly, consider how to manage potential changes, in order to add to or make changes to the project only when it is essential.
Time and cost. Use unbiased, accurate estimation techniques. Set up systems to gather, track, and analyse time and cost information, so you can keep them under control
Quality. Focus on quality at all three levels to ensure value. At the technical level, trace requirements and design checking and testing throughout the project to reduce errors. At the project level, plan to prevent error, then during the project find and eliminate the errors that slipped through. At the business level, include (internal or external) customers in planning wherever possible, and remember that the goals are customer delight and added value.
Risk. Plan for uncertainty; prepare for the unexpected. Perform risk management with your team every week of the project.
Human Resources. Help each team member step up in self-management and technical expertise. Ask everyone to work to the PDCA cycle, so that they can improve individually and collectively. Show them how to work together, ensuring that you have a great team of effective people.
Procurement. Be sure to obtain the supplies and resources you need. The right amount, quality, and availability of resources is vital to the success of your project.
Communications. Have a communications plan, and follow it so that you are in touch with all stakeholders throughout the project. Make sure everyone knows what they need to know to make decisions and get work done. Analyze status information to create status reports. Be prompt and decisive.
Integration. Constantly monitor progress and take corrective action where necessary. Evaluate all future events that could change the project schedule, and all scope change requests. Review the effects of any change on all nine areas before making a decision, and then implement a revised plan.
Keep the project on track with stages and milestones:
Use a life cycle approach. At a minimum, make a formal launch of the project, and then have milestones after planning, after each key event, and for each major stage completion.
Every milestone point should encompass a thorough evaluation. Bring every deliverable—parts of the product/service, documentation, technical documents, the project plan and supporting documents—up to specification. If a project appears not capable of delivering value, be willing to change it.
Use feedback with your team and focus on scope and quality in the doing stage:
Use feedback at all four levels. Give team members the support and resources to meet quality targets and stay on schedule; ensure delivery of milestones; manage project risk; and manage project change.
Focus on scope and quality. Get it all done, and get each piece done right.
Follow through to success:
Deliver customer delight. Seek to exceed customer expectations while leaving customers delighted with every encounter with your team. Use every success and every error as a chance to learn to do a better job next time.
When reviewing and evaluating the success of the project, be honest about the degree of your success. Compile project historical information and lessons learned to make future projects easier, and more successful.
Excerpted from Entrepreneur Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to Project Management: Get It Done Right! Sid Kemp. Copyright 2005, Entrepreneur Press
Featured BSBM Course
Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Project Management ~ UK Accredited
* we have featured these before, but as discussed in this newsletter, there is currently a phenomenal rise in demand, especially in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East for qualified project team members and managers – good reasons for considering these qualifications
Many management thinkers argue that in today’s world, middle and senior managers are now, in effect, project managers, managing overlapping projects that are a mix of simple and complex projects.
Our Level 4 Diploma in Project Management is designed to give junior and middle managers all the knowledge and understanding that they need to contribute positively and effectively to workplace projects.
The Level 6 Advanced Diploma is designed to equip national and international managers at middle, senior, and specialist levels, with a comprehensive range of knowledge and skills, enabling them to successfully lead and manage complex, large scale, projects.
The content in both courses is based on the internationally recognised PMI Project Management Institute set of best practices in managing projects.
Assessment is through work-related or research based Assignments for each module, plus an in-depth, strategic-level research report.
If you are looking for a highly respected, internationally recognised, project management qualification, the Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Project Management is worthy of serious consideration.
To see full details please visit our website www.brightonsbm.com/professional-courses/professional-courses-index.htm
Rising Demand for Project Management Skills
Projects come in all sizes, involving one or two people up to many thousands, and they can cost anywhere from a few £hundreds to many £billions. They can last anywhere from a few days to several years.
In most countries project management skills are now recognised as being valuable for any size of organisation, in any sector. However, in countries such as India and China, and in regions such as the Middle East, Africa, and South America, the demand is particularly high for project management skills to support major infrastructure development projects.
In India for example there is a 20 year plan to completely revolutionise the country’s road and rail network, a 10 year plan to build 5,000 5 Star hotels, and the Indian government has forecast a need for 20 million people to be trained in project management techniques.
In China there is planned development for cities and rural areas that will bring networked infrastructure such as road, rail, telecommunications, electricity, water and sanitary services, to 750 million people, and the development for leisure and tourism purposes of 10,000 sites of historical interest.
These massive, long-term projects are just a few of the thousands of similar projects being planned around the world.
For more information on projects such as these, see these web pages:
Study Resources of the Month
There are hundreds of sectors and technique-specific books on Project Management ~ here are some recommendations:
Managing Projects: A Team-Based Approach
Karen Brown, Nancy Lea Hyer. Publisher: McGraw Hill
Project Management: Best Practices: Achieving Global Excellence
Harold Kerzner. Publisher: John Wiley
Public-Sector Project Management: Meeting the Challenges and Achieving Results
David Wirick. Publisher: John Wiley
Project Management in Health and Community Services
Judith Dwyer, Pauline Stanton, Valerie Thiessen. Publisher: Routledge
Project Management, Fourth Edition: Get from the Idea to Implementation Successfully
Elvin Haynes. Publisher: Crisp Learning
On our website we now have a direct link to the Amazon Management Books section ~ to use this go to our Study Bookshops page.
Student Recommended Resources
www.openworkbench.org, we use this in our company – it’s free and it’s effective”~ our thanks to Elias
www.projectkickstart.com, simple to use … meets all our mid-sized business needs….” ~ our thanks to Francis
Advice from the Gurus
“The manager of the 21st Century will be a managing projects”
Tom Peters ~ Management Guru ~ 1975
“..businesses are realizing that traditional management processes cannot adequately deal with the amount of change in today’s working environment, and that a project management approach is best suited to handle the degree of relentless change that we encounter daily..”
Charlie Ashmore ~ Alpha-Net Solutions
“Having started in the 1990s and now continuing into the 21st century, project-based management is sweeping aside traditional functional management and almost all organisations will adopt flat, flexible structures”
Rodney Turner ~ Editor – International Journal of Project Management
Useful Study Links
Each of the websites listed here have a range of articles, reports, case studies, discussions, best practice checklists, and links to other sites ~
all directly or indirectly related to Project Management