The Role of the Project Manager A project manager is the person who has the overall responsibility for the successful initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of a project. The job title is used in construction, petrochemical, architecture, information technology and many different industries that produce products and services. The project manager must have a combination of skills including an ability to ask penetrating questions, detect unstated assumptions and resolve conflicts, as well as more general management skills.
Key among his or her duties is the recognition that risk directly impacts the likelihood of success and that this risk must be both formally and informally measured throughout the lifetime of the project. Risks arise from uncertainty, and the successful project manager is the one who focuses on this as the main concern. Most of the issues that impact a project arise in one-way or another from risk. A good project manager can lessen risk significantly, often by adhering to a policy of open communication, ensuring every significant participant has an opportunity to express opinions and concerns.
It follows that a project manager is one who is responsible for making decisions both large and small, in such a way that risk is controlled and uncertainty minimized. Every decision taken by the project manager should be taken in such a way that it directly benefits the project. Project managers use project management software, such as Microsoft Project, to organize their tasks and workforce. These software packages allow project managers to produce reports and charts in a few minutes, compared with the several hours it can take if they do it by hand. Roles and Responsibilities
The role of the project manager encompasses many activities including: ? Scope Management ? Time Management ? Cost Management ? Risk Management ? Quality Management ? Contract Management ? Communication Management ? Human Resources Management Finally, senior management must give a project manager support and authority if he or she is going to be successful. Scope Management Best Practices for Scope Management The knowledge area of Scope Management is all about making sure that the project includes only the work required to complete the project successfully.
To be effective at scope management, project manager must learn to control what is and what is not in the scope of the project. Below are some of the best practices for successful scope management. ? Collect Project Requirements ? Define the Scope ? Create a Work Breakdown Structure ? Verify the Scope and Get Feedback ? Monitor and Control the Scope 1. Collect Project Requirements The ability to define and then effectively control the scope of a project depends a lot on the goals and requirements of the project. For this reason, project manager need to gather the necessary information up front, before you ever start the project.
By clearly understanding the needs of the stakeholders and the capabilities and constraints of the resources, project manager have a higher chance to succeed. The easiest way to collect the project requirements is to perform interviews with the key stakeholders. Ask questions about their views of the finished product, the deliverables they expect to receive, and the schedule of the project. Once project manager have the information need, project manager may want to create a Scope Management Plan to define the processes that will be followed in defining scope, documenting scope, verifying and accepting scope, and managing change requests. . Define the Scope The scope of a project typically consists of a set of deliverables, an assigned budget, and an expected closure time. The previously collected project requirements will help project manager define the scope. Be sure to write down exactly what the project will entail and what it will not entail. Any amount of variation in the scope of the project can affect the project schedule, budget, and ultimately the success of the project. Getting a clear and concise definition of the scope will help project manager manage changes as they occur.
With a clear scope definition, project manager can simply ask the question, “Does this change fall within the scope of the project? ” If the answer is yes, then approve the change. If the answer is no, then put a pin it and save it for another time or project. Scope Creep: Scope creep is something common with every project. This refers to the incremental expansion of the project scope. Most of the time, the client may come back to the service provider during the project execution and add more requirements. Most of such requirements haven’t been in the initial requirements.
As a result, change requests need to be raised in order to cover the increasing costs of the services provider. Due to business scope creep, there can be technological scope creep as well. The project team may require new technologies in order to address some of the new requirements in the scope. In such instances, the services provider may want to work with the client closely and make necessary logistic and financial arrangements. 3. Create a Work Breakdown Structure A work breakdown structure or WBS is a graphical representation of the hierarchy of the project.
The WBS forces the project team to think through all levels of the project and identify the major tasks that need to be performed for the project to be completed on time. By starting with the end objective and then successively subdividing it into manageable steps or components in terms of size, duration, and responsibility, the WBS provides a high level view of the entire project. Furthermore, the framework makes planning and controlling the scope of the project much easier since project manager have a graphical chart to reference point for the tasks and subtasks needed for each phase of the project.
As a general rule of thumb, no task within the WBS should be less than 8 hours or more than 80 hours. 4. Verify the Scope and Get Feedback Because projects are expected to meet strict deadlines, verifying the scope of the project is critical before and during the project cycle. Scope verification can be done after each major task or phase is completed or if it is a smaller project, after the project has been completed. To verify the scope, meet with the project customer or stakeholder and get him/her to formally accept the project deliverables.
This includes getting a written acceptance of the deliverables and requesting feedback on the work performed. Getting feedback from the customer is an excellent way for project manager to improve processes and make sure the customer is happy with the work and the status of the project. The most important thing here is to communicate well and often. Verifying the scope and getting feedback will help you focus on customer acceptance, quality control, and verifying that work performed meets the definition of the scope of the project. 5. Monitor and Control the Scope
Now that the Scope has been clearly defined, a work breakdown structure has been organised, and the customer has formally accepted the scope of the project, it is time to actually manage and control the scope to avoid scope creep. Scope creep refers to the incremental expansion of the scope of the project, which may include and introduce more requirements that may not have been a part of the initial planning phases, but add costs and time to the original project. To effectively monitor and control the scope of the project, make sure project manager have an established process for managing change requests.
Any and all requests should be vetted and approved before they get introduced into the project. The budget and schedule of the project should also be altered to reflect the new changes. These changes should get a formal sign-off from the customer or key stakeholder before proceeding. It is important that project manager closely monitor and control the scope to avoid disgruntled customers, higher than expected costs, and projects that aren’t completed on time. Time Management Time Management refers to managing time effectively so that the right time is allocated to the right activity.
Effective time management allows individuals to assign specific time slots to activities as per their importance. Time Management refers to making the best use of time as time is always limited. Know which work should be done earlier and which can be done a little later. Time Management plays a very important role not only in organizations but also in our personal lives. Time Management Includes: ? Effective Planning ? Setting goals and objectives ? Setting deadlines ? Delegation of responsibilities ? Prioritizing activities as per their importance Spending the right time on the right activity Effective Planning Prepare a To Do List or a “TASK PLAN”. Jot down the important activities that need to be done in a single day against the time that should be allocated to each activity. High Priority work should come on top followed by those which do not need much of our importance at the moment. Complete pending tasks one by one. Do not begin fresh work unless we have finished our previous task. Tick the ones we have already completed. Ensure finish the tasks within the stipulated time frame. Setting Goals and Objectives
Working without goals and targets in an organization would be similar to a situation where the captain of the ship loses his way in the sea. Set targets and make sure they are realistic ones and achievable. Setting Deadlines Set deadlines for strive hard to complete tasks ahead of the deadlines. Learn to take ownership of work. One person who can best set the deadlines is project manager. Use a planner to mark the important dates against the set deadlines. Delegation of Responsibilities Learn to say “NO” at workplace. Don’t do everything alone.
There are other people as well. One should not accept something which he knows is difficult for him. The roles and responsibilities must be delegated as per interest and specialization of employees for them to finish tasks within deadlines. A person who does not have knowledge about something needs more time than someone who knows the work well. Prioritizing Tasks Prioritize the tasks as per their importance and urgency. Know the difference between important and urgent work. Identify which tasks should be done within a day, which all should be done within a month and so on.
Tasks which are most important should be done earlier. Spending the right time on right activity Develop the habit of doing the right thing at the right time. Work done at the wrong time is not of much use. Don’t waste a complete day on something which can be done in an hour or so. Also keep some time separate for personal calls or checking updates on Facebook or Twitter. After all human being is not a machine. For Effective Time Management Project Manager Needs To Be: Organized – Avoid keeping stacks of file and heaps of paper at workstation. Throw what all don’t need.
Put important documents in folders. Keep the files in their respective drawers with labels on top of each file. It saves time which goes on unnecessary searching. Don’t misuse time – Do not kill time by loitering or gossiping around. Concentrate on work and finish assignments on time. Remember the organization is not paying for playing games on computer or peeping into other’s cubicles. First complete the work and then do whatever feels like doing. Don’t wait till the last moment. Be Focused – One needs to be focused for effective time management.
Ten Essential Time Management Strategies for the Project Manager The following are the best time management practices for project managers: 1. Use the right tools and equipment. In project management, a project manager’s effectiveness will largely depend on the tools at his or her disposal. Even the most talented project manager will be limited if the right software and equipment are not available. Before taking on a project, project managers should thus assess their needs. Some areas to consider include: communications equipment, project tracking software, and collaboration software. . Get to know your project personnel. Social, economic, and cultural differences can often lead to misunderstanding and mis-communication among project team members, especially in situations where a project manager is working with a multi-national project team, and these misunderstandings can be a significant draw on project time. To counteract this affect, project managers should be familiar with the social, economic, and cultural differences of the project team members, and then ensure that these differences are taken into account within project communications. . The 20/80 rule. One of the guiding rules in the management of a project is the Pareto Principle which states that roughly 80% of the outputs will be generated by only 20% of the inputs. In other words, a few elements create the most impact. Project managers can capitalize on this principle with the use of a Pareto Chart, a vertical bar graph that identifies in rank order the most important elements or factors in a project, so that attention can be directed to the things that matter the most. 4. The fudge factor.
When creating the project budget and setting the project schedule, experienced project managers will always include a cushion in their estimates. These over-estimates of time and money are meant to compensate for any small, unexpected problems that may come up throughout the course of the project, and will ultimately help the project to stay on course. 5. Develop a solid risk management strategy. In addition to budgeting for unexpected draws on time and money, project managers need to have a solid risk management strategy in place so that a project recovery plan can be quickly implemented if problems arise. 6.
Effectively delegate tasks. One of the biggest pitfalls in project management is insufficient delegation of responsibilities. Project managers in particular must be available to oversee the various elements of the project and make key decisions. When they are being bogged down by tasks that can be done by others, then it compromises their ability to manage. 7. Conduct productive team meetings. When project personnel are brought together, it is vital that there be a clear and focused agenda to the meeting. Otherwise, the time of the project manager as well as all those attending the meeting will be compromised.
Experienced project managers are adept at determining which information must be discussed in a face-to-face meeting and which information can be disseminated via other mediums. 8. Effective communication system for communication. It almost goes without saying that a project will never run smoothly if the right information does not reach the right people at the right time. A system for effective communication of project information among project personnel as well as project clients and senior executives is a must.
Not only must the project manager ensure that he or she is presenting information in a clear, logical, and understandable way, but also that the right tools are in place, such as file- sharing programs, networks, and collaboration tools. 9. Daily personal to-do list. A simple, yet highly effective time management technique for the project manager is the daily creation of a personal to-do list. Having such a list on hand will help the project manager stay on track and not get caught up in the project’s myriad details. 10. Stay focused on the big picture.
As the old saying goes: don’t sweat the small stuff, that’s the job of the various project personnel hired to bring the project to completion. Putting undue attention on relatively insignificant aspects of the project can also quickly bring the project off schedule. Experienced project managers know where they can “let go” versus knowing which things demand their attention. By following the time management strategies mentioned above, the project manager can help to ensure that all the elements of the project are indeed brought together in a harmonious path towards project completion.
Time Management Tips for Project Managers Summary Time management is a basic skill for project managers. If project manager manage own time, how can project manager expect to manage the teams? Ask each day what project manager did to move the project forward. Plan the next day, what will project manager do to ensure the project continues along the straight and narrow. Plan the time, manage the resources with a light touch and communicate effectively. With a little time management, project success should come easier. Cost Management The following are the costs associated with the projects. Direct costs
Any costs that are directly attributable to the work on the project. These can include the salaries paid to the resources, the billing rate of the resources and costs of the software and hardware that are used for building the website Indirect Costs These costs are spread out against many projects and cannot be linked to one project alone. These costs include those incurred in shared services like cost of office space, taxes paid by the organization and other services like secretarial and janitorial staff Variable Costs Costs that change in proportion to the amount of time and material that are spent on produced in the project.
Fixed Costs Costs that do not change with the timeline or progress of the project. A cost be either Fixed or Variable; Direct or Indirect The overhead costs for this project are the office setup and shared services. While the costs incurred in setting up the office space can be general overhead cost as it is a one-time cost and is borne by all the projects in the organization. The project overhead costs are the costs incurred in the shared services such as secretarial staff and other services provide to the project and can be directly billable as such.
Time phased budget A time phased budget would include the costs incurred at each interval or milestone of the project. The milestones for this project would be requirements, design, coding, testing and implementation. The budget for the same would be the costs at each stage of the project. The budget at completion or BAC should have all the components of the costs included like direct and indirect costs, fixed and variable costs etc along with the cost at each phase or milestone of the project.
The cost variance should be measured using Earned Value technique and this tool allows the manager to assess the completion of the project at each milestone according to the cost incurred and the value accrued till then. Variance between these two measures gives an accurate estimate of the health of the project. Cumulative costs The cumulative costs of the project are the ones that are incurred up to a specific phase or milestone of the project. It can be measured by using a Cost Performance Index or CPI which measures the ratio of the Earned value with regards to the Actual cost incurred on the project.
As outlined above, all the costs that accumulate up to a particular phase can be called the cumulative costs of the project. Cost control The cost management plan should include the plan for controlling the costs of the project. There should be a measurement of the costs involved and their variances tracked, if any. Any variance to the budget must be controlled by the controlling the impact of the cost changes. Further, cost control can be done in the area of overhead costs and general and administrative expenses. Estimating Project Costs
The Wideman Comparative Glossary of Common Project Management Terms describes estimating cost as “The process of forecasting a future result in terms of cost, based upon information available at the time. ” In his book ‘How to be a Better Project Manager’, Trevor L Young defines estimating as “A decision about how much time and resource are required to carry out a piece of work to acceptable standards of performance. ” Many techniques, books and software packages exist to help with estimating project costs. A few simple rules will also help ensure you create an accurate and realistic estimate. Assume resources will only be productive for 80 percent of their time. ? Resources working on multiple projects take longer to complete tasks because of time lost switching between them. ? People are generally optimistic and often underestimate how long tasks will take. ? Make use of other project manager experiences. ? Get an expert view. ? Include management time in any estimate. ? Always build in contingency for problem solving, meetings and other unexpected events. ? Cost each task in the Work Breakdown Structure to arrive at a total, rather than trying to cost the project as a whole. Agree a tolerance with the customer for additional work that is not yet defined. ? Communicate any assumptions, exclusions or constraints project manager have to the customer. ? Provide regular budget statements to the customer, copying the team, so they are always aware of the current position. ? Much data exists about the length of time particular items of work take, especially in the construction industry. A useful database of production rates can be found at Planning Planet Common Mistakes ? These are some of the common mistakes that can lead to inaccurate estimates. Not understanding what is involved to complete an item of work. ? Starting with an amount of money and making the project cost fit it. ? Assigning resources at more than 80 percent utilization. ? Failing to build in contingency. ? Failing to adjust the estimate following changes in scope. ? Dividing tasks between more than one resource. ? Providing estimates under pressure in project meetings. ? Giving single-data-point estimates rather than range estimates. Three Point Estimating Three point estimating is a technique that helps project managers produce better estimates.
Rather than a ballpark estimate, project managers can use three point estimating to gain a greater degree of control over how the end value is calculated. The end value is the weighted average of three estimates. To do three point estimating for a particular task or activity, ask the resource for their best-case, most likely and worst case estimates. Add the best-case estimate to four times the most likely, then the worst case and divide by six. This gives you your estimate (E value) which is a slightly more balanced view of how long the task or activity is likely to take.
The formula is expressed as: E = (B + 4 M + W)/6 B = best-case (1/6) M = most likely (4/6) W = worst case (1/6) `Monte Carlo Simulation in MS Excel The Monte Carlo method of estimating project cost is based on the generation of multiple trials to determine the expected value of a random variable. There are several commercial packages that run Monte Carlo simulation; however a basic spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel can be used to run a simulation. Risk Management Literally speaking, risk management is the process of minimizing or mitigating the risk.
It starts with the identification and evaluation of risk followed by optimal use of resources to monitor and minimize the same. Risk generally results from uncertainty. In organizations this risk can come from uncertainty in the market place (demand, supply and Stock market), failure of projects, accidents, natural disasters etc. There are different tools to deal with the same depending upon the kind of risk. Ideally in risk management, a risk prioritization process is followed in which those risks that pose the threat of great loss and have great probability of occurrence are dealt with first. Refer to table below: IMPACT |ACTIONS | |SIGNIFICANT |Considerable Management Required |Must Manage and Monitor Risks |Extensive Management essential | |MODERATE |Risk are bearable to certain extent |Management effort worthwhile |Management effort required | |MINOR |Accept Risks |Accept but monitor Risks |Manage and Monitor Risks | | |LOW |MEDIUM |HIGH | | |LIKELIHOOD | The above chart can be used to strategize in various situations. The two factors that govern the action required are the probability of occurrence and the impact of the risk.
For example a condition where the impact is minor and the probability of occurrence is low, it is better to accept the risk without any interventions. A condition where the likelihood is high and the impact is significant, extensive management is required. This is how a certain priority can be established in dealing with the risk. Apart from this, typically most of the organizations follow a risk management cycle. Refer diagram below: [pic] According to this cycle there are four steps in the process of risk management. The first step is the assessment of risk, followed by evaluation and management of the same. The last step is measuring the impact.
Risk identification can start at the base or the surface level, in the former case the source of problems is identified. We now have two things to deal with the source and the problem. Risk Source: The source can be either internal or external to the system. External sources are beyond control whereas internal sources can be controlled to a certain extent. For example, the amount of rainfall, weather over an airport etc! Problem: A problem at the surface level could be the threat of accident and casualty at the plant, a fire incident etc. When any or both of the above two are known beforehand, certain steps can be taken to deal with the same.
After the risk has been identified then it must be assessed on the potential of criticality. Here we arrive upon risk prioritization. In generic terms ‘likelihood of occurrence ? impact’ is equal to risk. This is followed by development of a risk management plan and implementation of the same. It comprises of the effective security controls and control mechanisms for mitigation of risk. A more challenging risk to organizational effectiveness is the risk that is present but cannot be identified. For example a perpetual inefficiency in the production process accumulates over a certain period of time and translates into operational risk. The Principles of Risk Management
Every project manager and business leader needs to be aware of the practices and principles of effective risk management. Understanding how to identify and treat risks to an organization, a programmed or a project can save unnecessary difficulties later on, and will prepare managers and team members for any unavoidable incidences or issues. The M_o_R (Management of Risk) framework identifies twelve principles, which are intended “not to be prescriptive but provide supportive guidance to enable organizations to develop their own policies, processes strategies and plan. Organizational Context A fundamental principle of all generic management methods, including PRINCE2 and MSP as well as M_o_R, is that all organizations are different.
Project managers, programmed managers and risk managers need to consider the specific context of the organization in order to ensure thorough identification of risks and appropriate risk treatment procedures. The term ‘organizational context’ encompasses the political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental backdrop of an organization. Stakeholder Involvement It is easy for a management team to become internalized and forget that stakeholders are also key participants in everyday business procedures, short-term projects and business-wide change programmed. Understanding the roles of individual stakeholders and managing stakeholder involvement is crucial to successful.
Stakeholders should, as far as is appropriate, be made aware of risks to a project or programmed. Within the context and stakeholder involvement, “appropriate” concerns: the identity and role of the stakeholder, the level of influence that the stakeholder has over and outside of the organization, the level of investment that the stakeholder has in the organization, and the type, probability and potential impact of the risk. Organizational Objectives Risks exist only in relation to the activities and objectives of an organization. Rain is a negative risk for a picnic, a positive risk for drought-ridden farmland and a non-risk for the occupants of a submarine.
It is imperative that the individual responsible for risk management (whether that is the business leader, the project/programmed manager or a specialist risk manager) understands the objectives of the organization, in order to ensure a tailored approach. M_o_R Managing of Risk Approach The processes, policies, strategies and plans within the M_o_R framework provide generic guidelines and templates within a particular organization. These guidelines are based on the experience and research of professional risk managers from a wide range of organizations and management backgrounds. Following best practices ensures that individuals involved in managing the risks associated with an organization’s activity are able to learn from the mistakes, experiments and lessons of others. Reporting
Accurately and clearly representing data, and the transmission of this data to the appropriate staff members, managers and stakeholders, is crucial to successful risk management. The M_o_R methodology provides standard templates and tested structures for managing the frequency, content and participants of risk communication. Roles and Responsibilities Fundamental to risk management best practice is the clear definition of risk management roles and responsibilities. Individual functions and accountability must be transparent, both within and outside an organization. This is important both in terms of organizational governance, and to ensure that all the necessary responsibilities are covered by appropriate individuals. Support Structure
A support structure is the provision within an organization of standardized guidelines, information, training and funding for individuals managing risks that may arise in any specific area or project. This can include a centralized risk management team, a standard risk management approach and best-practice guidelines for reporting and reviewing organizational risks. Early Warning Indicators Risk identification is an essential first step for removing or alleviating risks. In some cases, however, it is not possible to remove risks in advance. Early warning indicators are pre-defined and quantified triggers that alert individuals responsible for risk management that an identified risk is imminent.
This enables the most thorough and prepared approach to handling the situation. Review Cycle Related to the need for early warning indicators is the review cycle. This establishes the regular review of identified risks and ensures that risk managers remain sensitive to new risks, and to the effectiveness of current policies. Overcoming Barriers to M_o_R Any successful strategy requires thoughtful consideration of possible barriers to implementation. Common issues include: ? Established roles, responsibilities, accountabilities and ownership. ? An appropriate budget for embedding approach and carrying out activities. ? Adequate and accessible training, tools and techniques. Risk management orientation, induction and training processes. ? Regular assessment of M_o_R approach (including all of the above issues. Supportive Culture Risk management underpins many different areas and aspects of an organization’s activity. A supportive culture is essential for ensuring that everybody with risk management responsibilities feels confident rising, discussing and managing risks. A supportive risk management culture will also include evaluation and reward of risk management competencies for the appropriate individuals. Continual Improvement In an evolving organization, nothing stands still. An effective risk management policy includes the capacity for re-evaluation and improvement.
At a practical level, this will require the nomination of an individual or a group of individuals to the responsibility of ensuring that risk management policies and procedures are up-to-date, as well as the establishment of regular review cycles of the organization’s risk management approach. Quality Management Procurement and Quality Process The art of project management calls for an increased vigil on quality and related processes. The project manager is expected to be aware of the best practices that are used for the project and is supposed to make sure that he or she adapts them to the use of project management. One area of concern nowadays is the absence of processes in procurement and staffing. These are areas of concern not only to the project manager but also to the organizations.
There is a need to balance the requirements of the fast procurement and staffing cycle with that of proper processes to be followed. There has been much debate in many organizations about the lack of quality in recruitment and procurement. These twin areas of quality and procurement have the aspect of ruining the chances of a successful project and hence the project manager has a responsibility to steer the course and ensure that quality does not suffer. There are several areas of project management that need quality control and there are several benchmarks of quality that can be used to meet these standards. For instance, many organizations use Six Sigma and SEI CMM level processes to guide them in the art of quality and meeting quality specifications.
These are just one instance of how the quality framework is used to differentiate between the processes that are error free and those that need revision and rework. Sampling method prescribed by Kaizen, Six Sigma etc can be used to improve the quality of the processes that are employed by the organizations. Kaizen, in particular relates to continuous improvement, a theme that would find resonance in the uber-competitive world of today. All organizations strive for quality and to find the edge that would differentiate those from others and thus these initiatives are the ones that the project manager must look forward to and implement them diligently in the workplace.
To address the issues arising out of poor procurement and staffing practices, the project manager has to be in constant touch with one important stakeholder i. e. , the procurement and staffing teams and this is where the project manager is expected to show their level of competence by managing the procurement and staffing cycle. Quality Management Vs Quality Control Quality is defined as the degree to which the project meets the requirements (PMBOK, 2009). The operative word here is meeting the requirements and hence anything that is done that is not conforming to the requirements is said to be deviating from the norm of quality. In the subsequent paragraphs, I look at the distinction between quality management and the processes of quality control.
Quality management is the practice of drawing up plans that determine the standards that need to apply to the project, determining who would be involved in managing quality and their specific duties, meetings to determine if the project is conforming to the quality specifications laid out in the quality management plan and laying out the metrics that are used to measure quality. As defined by the PMBOK, Project Quality Management is the comprehensive plan that includes all the components of the quality planning process (PMBOK, 2009). Quality control, on the other hand, is the set of processes that measure the metrics of quality by assessing the specific project results against standards.
Quality control processes are done during project monitoring and controlling functions whereas quality management is done during the initiating and planning phase (PMBOK, 2009). Hence, quality control is the subset of quality management and is the final phase of the project management cycle. Quality management is all encompassing and consists of laying down standards against which the project quality metrics are defined and need to be measured against. Quality management takes into account the lower level details of how the output of the project is to be tracked and measured. Quality control is the process of ensuring that the quality metrics are met.
Hence, while quality management is the process of planning and managing the requirements of the project from the perspective of quality, quality control is the process of measuring the level of output and the quality of the output and typically consists of measuring the output against the quality metrics that were decided upon in the quality management plan. The reason that quality management and quality control are used interchangeably is due to the perception that quality control encompasses the planning aspect as well. This is certainly true in organizations that do not have a separate quality department and quality planning and quality control is the domain of the project management processes. In organizations that have separate quality departments and where there is a well thought out quality plan, quality management and quality control are separate and are handled by different people.
In conclusion, quality management typically produces as its deliverables a comprehensive quality management plan that includes the quality control aspect of it. Quality control in this case is handled by a different set of people who do the tracking and measuring of metrics in a dedicated manner. Typically, the process of quality management includes the representatives from the quality department and the quality control processes are the reverse with the quality department handling the tracking of metrics and reporting to the project management team. Quality control is an independent audit of the quality of deliverables and is necessary for the sign off of the project. Deming’s 14 Points and Quality Project Manager
Quality is misunderstood by many who think of it only as it relates to the final deliverable, but a quality product is itself achieved only through quality processes focused on efficiency, innovation, and continual improvement, and these require a quality management culture not only in our projects, but within our organizations. In chapter two of his 1986 book, Out of the Crisis, Edward Deming presented 14 principles that he believed could make industry more competitive by increasing quality. Organizational improvements can begin with anyone. While it’s true that our professional domain as project managers is bounded by the project life cycle, our influence is often much greater than that, and quality management is one of those areas where skilled project managers are best suited to be instrumental change agents – first in the culture of their projects, and second, in the culture of their departments and organizations.
As project managers, if we follow Deming’s principles, we can create project environments where quality thrives, not only benefiting our customers and projects, but perhaps serving as a tipping point for effecting a quality management change within our organizations. 1. Create Constancy of Purpose towards Improvement Deming is telling management to stop reacting and plan better for the long-term. For project managers: What has been traditionally thought of as long-term planning is no longer achievable. Business changes too rapidly, and detailed, up-front plans take too long to produce and are always outdated by the time they’re committed to paper.
Yet projects must have a plan that establishes activities, milestones, and priorities, so what we should strive for in our projects is thorough planning based on iterative, rolling-wave, or Agile approaches. Thorough planning uses detailed planning for the short-term with a longer-term view emphasizing constant reviews, re-planning, and risk management, especially for opportunities that can be exploited. This results in a project plan that can adapt quickly to abrupt business and deliverable changes without throwing the project into chaos. 2. Adopt the new Philosophy Deming is telling management to stop being hypocritical, awaken itself to the challenge, and become leaders.
For project managers: People will always see through anyone who says one thing, but whose actions are entirely different. Lasting, energizing change starts first with us, and only then will it spread outward and excite others into action. As managers, our core values can’t just be expressed through our words, but they must be evident in all our actions with our teams and coworkers. It takes time, but as our message and attitude spread to an ever-broadening base of people, a domino effect takes place and the members themselves become believers and evangelists in quality management themselves. 3. Cease Dependency on Inspection Deming is reminding management that the need for inspection will decrease if quality problems are prevented in the first place.
For project managers: We all know that prevention is better than inspection, so our project management and execution processes need continual improvement methods built into them to reduce quality problems. But inspection goes beyond its purely quality connotations. Are we propagating a management style based on inspection? If our team has a tendency to run everything first past us for approval then we may be, and that isn’t good for us, the team, or the project. Our responsibility as a project manager isn’t to be the funnel through which everyone seeks approval. If that’s what is happening then the project will stagnate and become inflexible.
Instead, let’s make sure we create a project culture where the team has the skills, information, and experience it needs to make every-day, rapid decisions on its own. 4. End the Practice of Awarding Business on the Basis of Price Tags Deming’s purpose behind this point was to eliminate variations in the manufacturing process by having too many suppliers of component goods. For project managers: Price alone should rarely be the determining factor because most procurement needs go beyond simple commodities. When a project is likely to involve frequent changes, we need vendors who can adapt or offer their own new ideas for responding to those changes, and that isn’t likely to happen when cut-rate suppliers are chosen.
This principle also holds true in our role as the vendor for internal or external customers. We are not just collectors of requirements – we need to be engaged with the customer and stakeholders, understanding their business objectives in order for us to provide the deliverable that best meets their changing needs. 5. Improve Constantly and Forever Deming is reminding industry leaders that they have to constantly strive to reduce variation, which leads to quality problems. For project managers: Continuous improvement is a core philosophy of the PMBOK, but it isn’t like a switch that gets turned on or off. It’s a mindset that is nurtured by the right environment.
Members of the team need skills, information, and knowledge beyond their core subjects of expertise, and we should encourage experimentation and reward mistakes made in the search for innovation, which means we need to eliminate blame and ingrain the lessons-learned process in every part of the project. Large-scale improvements and innovative approaches often come from “amateurs” and not specialists because amateurs are driven by their interest in the subject and less wedded to preconceived notions and ideas. Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, says, “I’ll take a passionate amateur over a bored professional any day. ” 6. Institute Training on the Job On-the-job training increases efficiency and results in job outputs with fewer errors. For project managers: Continuous improvement extends beyond just processes.
It applies to the hard and soft skills, experiences, and knowledge of the entire project team. Professional development, coaching, and mentoring should be encouraged, acknowledged, and rewarded. Training doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to be formalised. Some of the best training experiences involve group-led efforts that also serve as team building exercises, such as Webinars, vendor demonstrations, and specific discussions on best practices. 7. Institute Leadership Deming wants management to be leaders not merely supervisors. For project managers: The problem on most projects is not a lack of management but a lack of leadership.
Leadership is more about people skills than about project management skills. Few projects have sponsors that view themselves as the leader on the project, and if the leadership charge is not picked up by the project manager then the project is not likely to be successful. A leader translates the project’s vision into actions that excite, inspire, and motivate the project team, and he or she is able to instil a perception that the project isn’t just creating a deliverable; it’s accomplishing something phenomenal for the customer. 8. Drive out Fear Deming tells us that management by fear or punishment is detrimental because it inhibits questions and ideas from the workforce.
For project managers: Fear stifles two cornerstones of quality – innovation and continual improvement. A fearful team isn’t going to generate new ideas and it’s going to hide its mistakes, leading to a poor lessons learned process. Deming’s point goes beyond what most of us associate with fear. Fear is also that little voice all of us hear that suppresses us from speaking up or sharing ideas – fear of failing, fear of sounding silly, fear of making a mistake, fear of missing a deadline, fear of stepping on another’s toes, and so on. Yet these fears are just as detrimental to quality as fear of punishment. It’s a lack of trust between team members and in the project’s leadership that drives these fears.
If we improve trust, team members will be more willing to share their ideas and question existing processes. 9. Break Down Barriers Between Staff Areas Deming wants everyone to realise that each person is a customer of someone and that everybody is a supplier to somebody. For project managers: Silos and a rigid hierarchy are dangerous not only to the project, but to the organisation. Innovation and continual improvement come about by somebody seeing a connection that is not inherently obvious, and connections can’t be discovered when one is stuck behind artificial barriers. We can help break those barriers by exposing people to diverse situations outside their normal environment and comfort zones.
Though there is a short-term productivity loss when people work outside their specialty, there is a longer-term gain for the project and organisation. This strategy helps build a larger pool of “generalists” in many subjects, and new experiences are a powerful motivator for many people. This approach also improves opportunities for innovative approaches and is a risk management strategy should key personnel leave the project. 10. Eliminate Slogans, Exhortations, and Targets for the Work Force Slogans imply the problem is with the employees, but the real problem is with the process. For project managers: The first point we have to accept is that we are responsible for problems within the project, whatever those issues might be.
It isn’t the team’s fault, the customer’s fault, or the organisation’s fault – it’s our fault. The root causes of most project problems are deficiencies in communication, scope, requirements, activity definitions, project planning and re-planning, risk management, and stakeholder involvement. All of these are within our professional domain even if we aren’t the ones personally performing them. It’s our responsibility to make sure the project processes are performed effectively to a level appropriate for the project. 11. Eliminate Management by Objectives Setting production targets only encourages people to meet those targets through whatever means necessary, which causes poor quality.
For project managers: On the surface this principle probably sounds like heresy to most of us – how can a project be managed if targets aren’t set? Well, it can’t, but that wasn’t Deming’s point. He’s talking about short-sighted versus thorough planning. Setting targets in response to a problem without first understanding and addressing the root causes in the processes will only lead to more quality problems. Milestones are the predominant targets for projects, and they need to be challenging to motivate the team, but they have to be achievable and flexible. Yet flexibility is one of the most common scheduling failures a project manager makes, especially on projects that are very iterative and involve rolling wave planning.
As these projects progress, milestones have to be continually reassessed, and this often means that the original dates get pushed. Too many of us perceive these readjustments as “missing our target” because we’re too married to dates that were only best-guesses or top-down estimates set early in project planning. We also should be careful to present milestone dates to stakeholders as estimates and help them understand the iterative nature of these kinds of projects – as the project is better understood and the work needed becomes clearer, milestone dates may change. 12. Remove Barriers to Pride of Workmanship Deming tells us that nobody feels good about producing shoddy work.
When management creates an environment that fosters poor quality, employees are frustrated. For project managers: Recognising the team and individuals for their contributions and achievements helps instil pride of workmanship. Everyone on the project team should feel that his or her work is recognised and valuable to the project’s success. Sincere appreciation is one of the easiest and cheapest yet most effective motivating agents we can use. Even “failures” and mistakes are achievements as long as there were valuable lessons learned. 13. Institute Education and Self-Improvement Deming wants everyone, managers and the workforce, to pursue training, education, and self-improvement.
For project managers: Ongoing professional development is expected of certified project managers, but we should also expect and encourage it among our team and coworkers. Nearly every profession has its own certification and continuing education requirements, and our team members will appreciate it if we have a general understanding of their profession’s requirements, recognise them for certification efforts, and help them with opportunities for meeting those requirements. 14. The Transformation is Everyone’s Job Deming says that everyone is involved in the fixing the processes. For project managers: This one is easy if we’ve done everything else right because all the other principles will result in quality management culture where everyone is involved in continual improvement and innovation.
Having experienced first-hand a quality management experience, the people on our team will in turn spread those ideas to other project teams. Communications Management Having good communication skills is one of the key abilities of a project manager. However, this fact is frequently overlooked when choosing the ideal candidate for that position. Moreover, it is not emphasized as much as it should in most project management training programs. Thus, many times we find project managers with excellent management and technical skills but which are really not-that-good communicators. Why is it so important? First of all, because a good leader should be a great communicator in order to lead and motivate his or her team, as we have discussed before.
This is something that not only applies to the members of the team but to all the stakeholders of the project. A project manager has to be aware that all of them have different profiles and interests, and that it requires from him or her great ability to adapt the message to each one. Communication principles Good communication should be based on accuracy, clarity, transparency and interaction. Accuracy has to do with the detail and scope of the information that is being transmitted. The project manager must be able to provide the information that is needed for everyone within and outside the team. Sometimes excessively detailed information may divert attention from the main message and can lead the interlocutor to confusion.
Mostly, the communication with the team should focus on the objectives, and the plan to take to achieve them. While, for example, information that is provided to clients will focus on the requirements of the project and its evolution. To ensure information clarity, the language is a crucial thing and the project manager must perfectly handle all its variants. Generally, it will be common to use a more technical and specific language within the team, and a more formal style if the message is addressed to a client or a company directive. Transparency has a direct impact on the project manager’s credibility. A project manager’s honesty should be beyond doubt, and so, he or she has to provide continuous communication about the problems that arise.
The last principle, but not a less important one is interaction. Communication cannot be unidirectional. In all situations, with any type of interlocutor, the project manager must be open to dialogue. He or she has to know how to both ask and listen in order to get accurate information that can be relevant in later decisions. It is essential to have continuous communication with all parties involved in the project. To help project manager with this, Doolphy, as an online project management tool, helps project manager to centralize all project information and adjust the access to each kind of user. Top Five Communication Skills for Project Managers 1.
Active Listening In first place is project manager ability to listen to and understand others. Listening to the words and the meaning behind their words, not interrupting or letting our minds wander, asking questions to check understanding, observing non-verbal signals. According to Indian project manager Nirav Patel CAPM: “The benefits include getting people to open up and due to that lots of misunderstandings and conflicts can be resolved. ” 2. Building Relationships based on Trust and Respect Trust and respect are the cornerstones of personal relationships. They are earned not a right and come from experience of our honesty, integrity and expertise.
Among the characteristics people used to determine project manager credibility are truthfulness, openness, willingness to share ideas and information freely, consistency, reliability, loyalty, capabilities and competence. “Trust encourages people to propose ideas, suggest ways to enhance work, speak of their concerns and give advice,” says Dubai-based Kareem Shaker PMP. 3. Setting Clear Priorities In third spot is a project manager’s ability to convey the strategy for their team – by setting goals, planning and prioritizing. This is the what, who, when, where, why and how of the project. Team members should understand both the big picture and the lower level technical priorities. “Essentially this is what a project manager does.
If you can’t do it you won’t get everybody working on the same page,” says Australian Paul Ramussen. 4. Enabling Collaboration In a collaborative environment team members support and encourage each other rather than focusing solely on their own tasks and responsibilities. They are willing to co-operate and share information, ideas and assets to help each other. The result can be greater than the sum of its parts. “When we collaborate we get the 1×1=3 effect. Things happen that might not have if people had remained focused on their own work,” says American Adam Michaelson PMP. 5. Conveying the Organisation’s Vision Contract In Project Management Project Contract Types
Explaining the bigger picture helps team members understand where the project fits within the overall aims of your business unit and organization. Senior executives are focused on the triple bottom line – finances, environment, reputation – this is where they expect your project to make a difference. American Jhaymee Wilson PMP says: “As project managers if we can’t convey the link between our project and the organization how can we show we are delivering value? ” This article is based on research among project managers from around the world and was originally published as Five Essential Rules for Project Leaders on the PMI Career Central website. Introduction:
In the world of business, contracts are used for establishing business deals and partnerships. The parties involved in the business engagement decide the type of the contract. Usually the type of the contract used for the business engagement varies depending on the type of the work and the nature of the industry. The contract is simply an elaborated agreement between two or more parties. One or more parties may provide products or services in return to something provided by other parties (client). The contract type is the key relationship between the parties engaged in the business and the contract type determines the project risk. Example most widely used contract types:
Fixed Price (Lump Sum) This is the simplest type of all contracts. The terms are quite straightforward and easy to understand. To put in simple, the service provider agrees to provide a defined service for a specific period of time and the client agrees to pay a fixed amount of money for the service. This contract type may define various milestones for the deliveries as well as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). In addition, the contractor may have an acceptance criteria defined for the milestones and the final delivery. The main advantage of this type of contract is that the contractor knows the total project cost before the project commences.
Unit Price In this model, the project is divided into units and the charge for each unit is defined. This contract type can be introduced as one of the more flexible methods compared to fixed price contract. Usually the owner (contractor/client) of the project decides on the estimates and asks the bidders to bid of each element of the project. After bidding, depending on the bid amounts and the qualifications of bidders, the entire project may be given to the same services provider or different units may be allocated to different services providers. This is a good approach when different project units require different expertise to complete. Cost Plus
In this contract model, the services provider is reimbursed for their machinery, labour, and other costs, in addition to contractor paying an agreed fee to the services provider In this method, the services provider should offer a detailed schedule and the resource allocation for the project. Apart from that, all the costs should be properly listed and should be reported to the contractor periodically. The payments maybe paid by the contractor at a certain frequency (such as monthly, quarterly) or by the end of milestones. Incentive Incentive contracts are usually used when there is some level of uncertainty in the project cost. Although there are nearly-accurate estimations, the technological challenges may impact on the overall resources as well as the effort.
This type of contracts is common for the projects involving pilot programs or the project that harness new technologies. There are three cost factors in an Incentive contract; target price, target profit, and the maximum cost. The main mechanism of Incentive contract is to divide any target price overrun between the client and the services provider in order to minimize the business risks for both parties. Retainer (Time and Material – T&M) This is one of the most beautiful engagements that can get into by two or more parties. This engagement type is the most risk-free type where the time and material used for the project are priced. The contractor only requires knowing the time and material for the project in order to make the payments.
This type of contracts has short delivery cycles and for each cycle separate estimates are sent of the contractor. Once the contractor signs off the estimate and Statement of Work (SOW), the services provider can start work. Unlike most of the other contract types, retainer contracts are mostly used for long-term business engagements. Percentage of Construction Fee This type of contracts is used for engineering projects. Based on the resources and material required, the cost for the construction is estimated. Then, the client contracts a service provider and pays a percentage of the cost of the project as the fee for the services provider. As an example, take the scenario of constructing a house. Assume that the estimate comes up to $230,000.
When this project is contracted to a services provider, the client may agree to pay 30% of the total cost as the construction fee, which comes up to $69,000. Conclusion Selecting the contract type is the most crucial step of establishing a business agreement with another party. This step determines the possible engagement risks. Therefore, companies should get into contracts where there is a minimum risk for their business. It is always a good idea to engage in fixed bids (fixed priced) whenever the project is short-termed and predictable. If the project nature is exploratory, it is always best to adopt retainer or cost plus contract types. Contract Project Management Services
Contracting a project management professional to manage a project offers advantages in leadership, experience and cost savings. Yet