Entrepreneurship Development – self prepared notes The Project Life Cycle refers to a logical sequence of activities to accomplish the project’s goals or objectives. Regardless of scope or complexity, any project goes through a series of stages during its life. There is first an Initiation or Birth phase, in which the outputs and critical success factors are defined, followed by a Planning phase, characterized by breaking down the project into smaller parts/tasks, an Execution phase, in which the project plan is executed, and lastly a Closure or Exit phase, that marks the completion of the project.
Project activities must be grouped into phases because by doing so, the project manager and the core team can efficiently plan and organize resources for each activity, and also objectively measure achievement of goals and justify their decisions to move ahead, correct, or terminate. It is of great importance to organize project phases into industry-specific project cycles. Why? Not only because each industry sector involves specific requirements, tasks, and procedures when it comes to projects, but also because different industry sectors have different needs for life cycle management methodology.
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And paying close attention to such details is the difference between doing things well and excelling as project managers. Diverse project management tools and methodologies prevail in the different project cycle phases. Let’s take a closer look at what’s important in each one of these stages: 1) Initiation In this first stage, the scope of the project is defined along with the approach to be taken to deliver the desired outputs. The project manager is appointed and in turn, he selects the team members based on their skills and experience.
The most common tools or methodologies used in the initiation stage are Project Charter, Business Plan, Project Framework (or Overview), Business Case Justification, and Milestones Reviews. 2) Planning The second phase should include a detailed identification and assignment of each task until the end of the project. It should also include a risk analysis and a definition of a criteria for the successful completion of each deliverable. The governance process is defined, stake holders identified and reporting frequency and channels agreed.
The most common tools or methodologies used in the planning stage are Business Plan and Milestones Reviews. 3) Execution and controlling The most important issue in this phase is to ensure project activities are properly executed and controlled. During the execution phase, the planned solution is implemented to solve the problem specified in the project’s requirements. In product and system development, a design resulting in a specific set of product requirements is created.
This convergence is measured by prototypes, testing, and reviews. As the execution phase progresses, groups across the organization become more deeply involved in planning for the final testing, production, and support. The most common tools or methodologies used in the execution phase are an update of Risk Analysis and Score Cards, in addition to Business Plan and Milestones Reviews. 4) Closure In this last stage, the project manager must ensure that the project is brought to its proper completion.
The closure phase is characterized by a written formal project review report containing the following components: a formal acceptance of the final product by the client, Weighted Critical Measurements (matching the initial requirements specified by the client with the final delivered product), rewarding the team, a list of lessons learned, releasing project resources, and a formal project closure notification to higher management. No special tool or methodology is needed during the closure phase. Characteristics
Basics of Project Plans A project plan can be considered to have five key characteristics that have to be managed: * Scope: defines what will be covered in a project. * Resource: what can be used to meet the scope. * Time: what tasks are to be undertaken and when. * Quality: the spread or deviation allowed from a desired standard. * Risk: defines in advance what may happen to drive the plan off course, and what will be done to recover the situation. Balanced Plans The sad thing about plans is you cannot have everything immediately.
Many people plan using planning software packages, without realising the tradeoffs that must be made. They assume that if they write a plan down, reality will follow their wishes. Nothing is further from the truth. The point of a plan is to balance: * The scope, and quality constraint against, * The time and resource constraint, * While minimising the risks. Bad Plan Example When considering whether or not you have a project on your hands, there are some things to keep in mind. First, is it a project or ongoing operation? Next, if it is a project; who are the stakeholders?
And third, what characteristics distinguish this endeavor as a project? A project has several characteristics: * Projects are unique. * Projects are temporary in nature and have a definite beginning and ending date. * Projects are completed when the project goals are achieved or it’s determined the project is no longer viable. * A successful project is one that meets or exceeds the expectations of your stakeholders. Consider the following scenario: The VP of marketing approaches you with a fabulous idea. (Obviously it must be “fabulous” because he thought of it. He wants to set up kiosks in local grocery stores as mini offices. These offices will offer customers the ability to sign up for car and home insurance services as well as make their bill payments. He believes that the exposure in grocery stores will increase awareness of the company’s offerings. He told you that senior management has already cleared the project and he’ll dedicate as many resources to this as he can. He wants the new kiosks in place in 12 selected stores in a major city by the end of the year. Finally, he has assigned you to head up this project.
Your first question should be “Is it a project? ” This may seem elementary, but confusing projects with ongoing operations happens often. Projects are temporary in nature, have definite start and end dates, result in the creation of a unique product or service, and are completed when their goals and objectives have been met and signed off by the stakeholders. Using these criteria, let’s examine the assignment from the VP of marketing to determine if it is a project: Is it unique? Yes, because the kiosks don’t exist in the local grocery stores.
This is a new way of offering the company’s services to its customer base. While the service the company is offering isn’t new, the way it is presenting its services is. Does the product have a limited timeframe? Yes, the start date of this project is today, and the end date is the end of next year. It is a temporary endeavor. Is there a way to determine when the project is completed? Yes, the kiosks will be installed and the services will be offered from them. Once all the kiosks are intact and operating, the project will come to a close. Is there a way to determine stakeholder satisfaction?
Yes, the expectations of the stakeholders will be documented in the form of requirements during the planning processes. These requirements will be compared to the finished product to determine if it meets the expectations of the stakeholder. If the answer is yes to all these questions, then “Houston, we have a project”. PROJECT FEATURES http://www. maxwideman. com/issacons/iac1002b/sld003. htm The influence of related disciplines on project management practice Introduction Project management is a relatively new discipline; one that has been formalized only in the last half century or so.
Consequently, both academics and practitioners routinely draw upon knowledge in allied (or related) disciplines in order to advance the theory and practice of project management. Given this, it is of interest to ask: what is the (current and future) influence of other, related disciplines on the profession of project management? A paper by Yoong Kwak and Frank Anbari entitled, Availability-Impact Analysis of Project Management Trends: Perspectives From Allied Disciplines, looks into this question. This post is a summary and review of the paper.
Some terminology and assumptions first. An allied discipline, in the context of this paper, is any discipline that is related to project management- examples of this include Human Resource Management and Information Technology. Availability is the volume of ideas relating to project management in an allied discipline and impact refers to the influence of that research on project management practice. Note that availability and impact are treated as independent variables in the study. Objectives, methodology and approach The questions that Kwak and Anbari seek to answer are: What trends in allied disciplines could have a significant effect on project management theory and practice? * How would these trends change (the theory and practice of) project management? * How would project managers have to change their mind-set because of the impact of these disciplines? * What actions can be taken to meet the challenges posed by trends in allied disciplines? Note that I have paraphrased their questions for clarity. To answer these question Kwak and Anbari surveyed a selected group of project managers and project management researchers, seeking their input on a range of issues relating to the above questions.
The surveys also solicited qualitative information through respondents’ opinions on the impact, trends and future of project management. The italics in the previous sentence are intended to highlight the conclusions are based on subjective data gathered from a relatively homogeneous sample – more on this later in the review. Based on the survey data, the authors: * Derived and plotted availability-impact relationships for each of the allied disciplines in a 2? 2 matrix (in which each of the two variables took on the values ‘High’ and ‘Low’) * Identified how trends in these disciplines influence project management. Conducted a structured survey to solicit opinions on how the project management community can respond to (or take advantage) of these influences. By reviewing project management research literature, the authors identified the following eight allied areas as being potentially relevant to the future of the discipline: 1. Operations Research/Decision Sciences/Operation Management/ Supply-Chain Management (abbreviated as OR/DS/OM/SCM) 2. Organizational Behavior/Human Resource Management (abbreviated as OB/HR) 3. Information Technology/Information Systems (IT/IS) 4.
Technology Applications/Innovation/New Product Development/Research and Development (TECH/INNOV/NPD/R&D) 5. Engineering and Construction/Contracts/Legal Aspects/Expert Witness(EC/CONTRACT/LEGAL) 6. Strategy/Integration/Portfolio Management/Value of Project Management/Marketing (STRATEGY/PPM) 7. Performance Management/Earned Value Management/Project Finance and Accounting (PERFORM/EVM) 8. Quality Management/Six Sigma/Process Improvement (QM/6SIGMA/PI) I’m not an academic, and don’t claim to be current with research literature, but I think that psychology and economics ought to have made it to this list.
In the survey questionnaire, the authors asked respondents to rank the above disciplines on a 7 point scale, for the following criteria: * The availability of project management-related information/knowledge/research in the discipline. * The impact of the discipline on project management. The rating was done on an ordinal scale of 1 to 7. Respondents were also asked open ended questions regarding trends in allied disciplines and how the project management community should adapt to or take advantage of these trends.
The authors describe the demographics of the survey population – I won’t go into details of this; please see the paper for details. Results and Discussion The current availability and impact of allied disciplines on project management – as perceived by the surveyed practitioners and academics – is summarized in Figure 1 and the predicted future availability-impact relationships are shown in Figure 2. I’ll discuss the current situation first. Current Situation The current situation is as shown below: Figure 1: Current availability-impact of allied disciplines
According to the survey data, disciplines in the lower left quadrant are lacking in novel project management-related information and thus have potential for more research. They also do not have much of an impact on the field. In my opinion, even though there may be a lack of research directly related to project management in these areas, there are plenty of papers whose findings can be adapted to project management – see this post from an example drawn from a recent paper on strategy execution. My point: even research that isn’t directly related to project management can be relevant to the field.
Disciplines in lower right quadrant have plenty of research related to project management, but most of this work tends to have a low impact on the field. This seems reasonable– there’s a stack of research dealing with project performance and engineering/construction projects (this observation is based on a quick survey of papers that have appeared in the Project Management Journal over the last two years). Most of this research tends to have little effect on the field – for example, there haven’t been many radically new practices in the area of performance and construction management.
Disciplines in the upper left quadrant lack research but could potentially have a great impact on project management practice. To me this quadrant presents interesting possibilities because it refers to areas which currently have no (or very little) project management-related research but which could, nevertheless, have a high impact on practice. As described in my discussion of the low-low quadrant – a lot of research in other, unrelated fields can be adapted to project management.
Based on my readings, I believe behavioural science/psychology (focusing on the individual rather than the group) and economics fall into this category – as examples see this post for an example drawn from psychology and this one for one drawn from economics. Unfortunately these fields are not considered by the authors. This brings us to the upper right quadrant, which includes quality/process management and information technology. There’s little doubt that in recent years there’s been deluge of project-related research papers published in these areas.
It is also clear that these areas have had a high impact on project management practice. However, in my opinion, it is far from clear that the effect of this research has been positive ; if anything it has lead to an unhealthy obsession with process and technology based approaches to project management. Future situation Future trends, according to those surveyed, are as depicted in Figure 2. Figure 2: Future availability-impact of allied disciplines Let’s look at the disciplines that have moved: PERFORM/EVM and STRATEGY/PPM have moved up to the high-high quadrant reflecting their (perceived) future importance.
However, is this really the case or is it a case of availability bias? The latter is plausible, given the recent flood of papers, articles and talks on topics relating to STRATEGY/PPM in journals and conferences. Practitioners and academics exposed to this constant barrage of information (propaganda? ) on the topic cannot but help think that it must be a field of great relevance The anticipated increase in importance of PERFORM/EVM, on the other hand, reflects the belief that project management will become more “metricised” or measurement-oriented.
This is no bad thing, providing the metrics are meaningful. In this connection, it is worth looking at Douglas Hubbard’s book on the measurement of intangibles. OR/DS/OM/SCM has moved from the lower left to the lower right quadrant reflecting the respondents’ perceptions that there will be more project management related research in these areas, but that this research will continue to be of limited relevance to the profession. On the surface, this seems quite plausible – as one of the respondents put it, “The impact of decision sciences on project management was high until the 1960s.
Project management had its genesis in Operations Research. However, since the 1970s the relative importance, knowledge and research in this area has been decreasing [in comparison to other fields]…” However, I’m not entirely convinced: case can be made that radical advances in decision sciences may cause a reversal of this trend. The portents are already there – see Hubbard’s work on applied information economics, for example. EC/CONTRACT/LEGAL has moved from the lower right to the lower left quadrant. I think this is quite possibly correct. Why?
Well, because project management, ever since its inception, has been borrowing and adapting much from these areas. It is therefore only natural to expect that this will plateau out (if it hasn’t already) and decrease as time goes on. A note on relative availability and impact or IT/IS From an analysis of the raw rankings of the disciplines, the authors infer that IT/IS has, and will continue to have, an availability and impact that is much greater than any other discipline. Presumably this is a consequence of IT/IS being ranked much higher on the 7 point scale than any of the other disciplines.
I can’t help but wonder if this is due to a bias in the surveyed population: if one interviews IT project managers or academics specializing in IT, it should be no surprise if they rate the accessibility and importance of technology as being much higher than that of other disciplines. Unfortunately Kwak and Anbari do not give a discipline-wise breakdown of the survey respondents, so I’m unable to judge if this is so. Opinions of selected respondents The authors also present detailed opinions of selected respondents. On reading these I found nothing strikingly new.
Two academics pleaded for project management to be treated with more respect by other academics – i. e. be “recognized in the management faculty and accorded an equal status to with other traditional management science disciplines. ” That academics are concerned about the status of the profession is only natural; whether this “equal status” is desirable is another matter altogether. Another researcher waxed eloquent on the effects of globalization and technology – trends that I think are evident to most practitioners.
The practitioners, on the other hand, focused on currently fashionable areas of practice: quality management/process improvement and portfolio management. There was also a mention of how a “project-based world” was needed in order to respond to “increasing complexity. ” The problem is that these terms mean different things to different people, consequently they don’t mean much at all (see this post for more on the confusion regarding the term “complexity” in the context of projects). Conclusion The authors end with some general statements that they claim to have derived from the survey data.
These can be summarized as follows: 1. OB/HR is becoming increasingly important as much of project work is about managing internal and external relationships. There is a growing recognition (finally! ) that projects are more about people than processes. 2. There will be an increasing dependence on software tools to manage projects. (IS/IT) 3, There will be an increasing focus on measuring performance and compliance with regulations and standards (PERFORM/EVM) 4. Portfolio management and quality/process improvement (STRATEGY/PPM and QM/6SIGMA/PI) will continue to get a lot of attention in industry. . New tools and techniques will emerge from the intersection between traditional management disciplines (OR/DS/OM/SCM and PERFORM/EVM) and newer ones (IT/IS and TECH/INNOV/NPD/R&D) It isn’t entirely clear on what basis the authors make the above statements: are they based on: 1) survey responses, 2) research literature or 3) the authors’ opinions? And, if it is the first: can one make the above broad generalisations based on small surveys involving less than 100 respondents ? Perhaps not, I think.
Finally the authors end with this plea “The project management profession is continuously evolving, so the project management community should be receptive to new ideas and also be sensitive to the yearning (!? ) of the public and professional community so as to model project management practices to meet their expectations. ” This is true: the project management “community” remains fixated on classical practices and techniques, many of which have questionable value. A degree of openness to new ideas and practices wouldn’t be amiss.
The paper attempts to gauge the current and future influence of allied fields on the research and practice of project management. It does so by surveying a sample of project management academics and professionals and making inferences based on the collected data. The sample is drawn from a population that is steeped in current practice and theory. As a result the respondents may not be aware of the possibilities offered by fields that are currently not on the “project management radar. ” This might explain why the upper left quadrant is empty in both matrices.
To get around this the authors could have solicited the opinions of practitioners/theorists from allied disciplines. To summarise: The authors infer some interesting trends from their data, but there remain some questions about the robustness of the inferences and the generalisations made from them. PROJECT CLASSIFICATION Project classification is one of the most important techniques of capital budgeting. | It is of utmost importance for the present day business entities as proper project classification is essential for their financial well-being.
Basis of Project Classification The projects that are undertaken by the business entities are categorized as per the following considerations: * Amount of Risk involved * Quantity of Work to be put in | Importance of Size in Project Classification Size is an important part of project classification. One of the most crucial tools in this case is the Size Matrix. The Size Matrix has separate categories that reflect the size of the particular project. For example, Class 1 denotes a smaller project. On the other hand, a big project could be represented by Class 5.
The size of a particular business project could be gauged by studying the following factors: * Hours needed to complete a project * External Stuff Budget * Internal Stuff Budget The following table represents the various project classes according to their sizes and the various requirements of individual project classes: Class of Project| Internal and External Staff Budget| Work Effort in terms of Hours| 1| Less than $ 8,000| 80 to 159| 2| Between $ 8,000 and $ 24, 999| 160 to 499| 3| Between $ 25,000 and $ 249,999| 500 to 4,999| 4| Between 250,000 and $499,999| 5,000 to 9,999| | More than $ 500,000| More than 10,000| Importance of Risk Factors in Project Classification The risk factors are an important part of a project since there cannot be a project where no risk is involved. The risk factors need to be carefully evaluated while classifying a particular project. As per the Risk Matrix following are the main risks that may be associated with any business: * Political status of a particular project * Size of the team of the project * The various complications associated with a project * Number of workgroups that are involved with a project Impact of political scenario * Technology involved in the project * Project Classification Elements * There are a number of factors, which combine to define the project classification: * Project Focus – Business Processes or Information Technology * The most fundamental difference is in the high level focus of the project – is this piece of work * targeted at a new or changed business process which will be implemented without changing the * existing information technology systems or is it about using information technology to enable and * implement a change to the way we do business? There is a third, very uncommon type of project – the “pure” information technology project; those * undertaken within the information technology team to meet technology demands. These types of * project are normally technology upgrades or changes such as migrating from one platform to another. * The selection between these three project types is the most fundamental choice to be made, as this will * significantly impact the methodology approach to be undertaken. * Project Risks – Low, Medium or High * All projects have risks associated with them.
Understanding the degree of risk and the nature of these * risks is important to the selection of the methodology elements. * The methodology identifies project risks at three levels – Low, Medium and High. * To identify the level of risk associated with the project please refer to the Risk Assessment in the * Business Case. * Total Investment – Size * Project size is measured in the overall investment, in the following bands: * Under $250,000 Enhancement * $250,000 to $1M Small project * $1M to $3M Medium project * $3M to $10M Large project $10M or more Very large proCommunication Complexity
There are three aspects to complexity: 1. The number of people who are actively involved in the project 2. Geographical/temporal distribution of the project activities 3. Cultural distribution of the project team The more people there are on the project the more reliance there must be on written artefacts for the explicit transfer of knowledge. Likewise the larger the geographic distances over which the teams are spread the more reliance there must be on written communication. Where teams are distributed over large geographic distances they are often unable to effectively coordinate verbal conversations and must correspond in writing.
Where team members are from different cultural backgrounds they must work harder to ensure that they understand each other. See appendix 1 for a discussion of culture as it relates to team formation. When assessing the communication complexity of a project the project a simple three-tier assessment should be used which takes into account these factors. It is acknowledged that this is a subjective assessment made by the project manager in consultation with the team. The three rankings are: Low Complexity – The team is small, located within the same geographic area and largely homogeneous.
Projects of this nature are well suited to low-ceremony largely verbal communications, with an expectation that the team will talk to each other frequently. Medium Complexity – Any two of the three factors are present that will prevent the team from communicating effectively at all times. Perhaps there are groups within the project team that are co-located but other team members are off-site, or the total team is too large to get together at one time. Project of medium communications complexity will require more formal, written communication than a low complexity project, but there will still be some reliance on verbal informal communication.
High Complexity – Large teams, outsource/offshore development activities and distributed multi-cultural teams will require much more formal communication channels and will necessitate reliance on formal, written artefacts, with rigorous review and sign-off procedures. These projects will by definition take longer and run higher risk of misunderstood requirements. Team members are encouraged to talk to each other frequently and build relationships to reduce * the risk involved in having to rely on explicit communications channels. ject