Sample Management Essay Paper on Project Management – An Integrated Approach

PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Project Management – An Integrated Approach

Project management is responsible for the numerous innovations today. Different companies work day and night in an attempt to come up with various products that satisfy customer needs. However, it is important to note at this stage that management plays a major role when it comes to the inception and implementation of projects. The modern aspect of project management entails an integrated approach that puts into use various factors for efficiency. At this stage, it is important to understand the term ‘project’. According to Rothman, C. (2009, 12), a project is a temporary endeavor that an organization undertakes in order come up with a unique product or service for the consumer. Therefore, a project is a special endeavor that does not entail the daily activities of a company.

An integrated approach to project management ensures that the managers come with a plan that creates efficiency of the operations towards the production of the product or service. This means that each project requires having certain characteristics. The first characteristic is the objective of the project. For instance, an organization may have an objective to develop given software by a given date, say December 31, 2017. This definite objective may miss in the daily routines in an organization. The normal life of an organization entails some forms of repetitive activities that have no specific objectives or timelines. On this note, an integrated project management also entails definite timelines. Therefore, a project should have its end, meaning that after completion, workers are free to turn their attention to other projects.

Project managers are responsible for the implementation and completion of a project. However, this person has to work with other offices in order to have different professionals. A project cannot be undertaken by a single office because it may lack all the required expertise towards delivering a proper product or service. Therefore, a project requires various analysts in charge of finances, quality control, and engineering departments. All these offices work under different managers who all report to the project manager. Another important characteristic of a project is the uniqueness it offers to the consumers (Gould, E. 1996, 23). This means that a project should entail some of the processes that have never been done before. Some of the projects may entail some routine activities; however, in a project, these activities undergo customization in order to come up with some unique product use. Lastly, a project requires some specific determination of the cost, time and achievements made. This means that the customer would be able to enjoy the benefits according to the cost, time and the achievements accomplished at the end of the project.

Therefore, it is apparent that a project is not a routine activity taking place within an organization. These daily activities within an organization do not lead to the final products. An organization needs to understand the differences between the daily operations and projects in order to known when to allocate resources to those activities that would help in coming up with new products and services to the consumers. In addition, the need for a project may come from the consumer demand, for instance, a fruit drink company can order the production of a brand of a drink with less sugar. It may also come from the business need to increase its revenue, social need or a legal requirement (Peters, T. 2004, 19). Project management ensures that the processes, including the cost and timelines, are met.

Portfolio Management System

Integrated approach to project management requires that an organization make a list of all the activities of the project in terms of the priority to the organization (Anbari, F. 1997, 13). The portfolio may include all service from within an organization to those outsourced. One common thing should be in terms of the value to the business activities. Portfolio management system is important it helps a project organization make a priority of the activities in order to make a balance between the cost involved versus the risk.

According to Gould, E. (1996, 21), management of the service portfolio requires that an organization consider certain factors before allocating resources and embarking on a project. First, an organization should ask itself why a customer would prefer to buy a product or service from them and from the other competitors. On the same note, other factors like price, strengths, and weaknesses all play a role when it comes to developing an efficient service portfolio. In this process, the product manager is responsible for ensuring that all services and tasks take place as planned during the project lifespan.

In order to come up with an efficient service portfolio, three subsections need to be considered. First is the analysis that helps in making the definition of the proposed project and the impact it may have on other portfolio services. Secondly, the portfolio should be submitted to the relevant authority for authentication before proceeding to the next stage. The third and last stage in the management of portfolio requires a constant follow-up and review of the services within the portfolio in order to assess whether everything works according to the initial plan.

A portfolio should contain a catalog that can be accessed by the customer, detailing some of the services and products the organization offers. The pipeline section helps in giving the detailed account of some of the projects at hand, going further to indicate potential growth in the future. Customers are also able to access the long-term and short terms objective entailed within the portfolio. The last section of a portfolio has the details of some of the finished or soon to be finished projects. An organization may have certain services that have been retired while others at their initial stages of operations (Stewart, T. 1996, 23). Therefore, a portfolio helps in the understanding the transition between different services by an organization. For quality, the portfolio should have color codes and timesheet to make it easy for the viewers.

Some of the reasons that may make it difficult to manage a portfolio include having very many projects at the same time. When an organization decides to embark on multiple projects at the same time, a single project manager may be responsible for a number of projects, making it impossible to keep the focus to deliver proper services. In such a situation, lack of focus may lead to the failure to deliver as per the intended plans. When the senior managers fail to give maximum support as stated in the portfolio, it may be difficult to get all the requirements that can deliver the services. In most cases, budget constraints lead to serious shortfall and low quality of the services. At the same time, in-house politics also work towards mismanagement of the portfolio, especially when it becomes difficult to adopt a new technology because of the organizational culture (Ibbs, W., & Kwak, Y. 1997, 4). Misallocation of resources is also an impediment when it comes to proper management of the portfolio.

Estimating Project Times & Costs

As noted in the first topic, a project must have a definite timeline for implementation. Therefore, a proper schedule for estimating time is required in order to fast track the progress. At the same time, all the activities must have cost estimates in order to allow for preparations of the services. Time management system should entail certain processes. Activity definition helps in identifying some of the activities that should be undertaken within the project in order to produce deliverables. According to Benko, C., & McFarlan, F. (2003, 18), activity schedules also helps in identification of certain activities that may depend on other operations. Schedule development and control are also important aspects of the project time estimation because they help in making an analysis of the sequence of activities, duration and certain constraints that may come up during the process. The controlling part helps in the monitoring the changes that may occur during the implementation stage.

Activity definition is the foundation that determines how other time-related operations are implemented. It helps in making a proper structure of all operations and transactions in terms of the tasks. All operations defined in this section is further divided using the work breakdown structure (WBS) in order to enhance the flow within given timelines (Gates, M., & Scarpa, A. 1974, 525). Therefore, work breakdown structure helps in giving further details of each activity to be undertaken in a given project.

The activity schedule helps in providing a clear sequence of the activities. The activity helps in determining the time required for each activity. The scheduling can be manual or with a special software. All relevant information is gathered in order to come up with an estimated scheduled activity durations. At the same time, schedule development is a requirement for time estimations. Such information helps in displaying the project start and ends. Lack of clear information of the expected end of projects may lead to the delays in the implementation and completion of projects.

Project cost management is equally an important part of project management (Anbari, F. 1997, 13). Every project must be implemented within certain budgetary limits; therefore, the coming up with cost estimates should help guide the project to stay within the allowable cost limits. Project cost management helps in looking at the different aspect of implementation in order to come up with opportunities that offer greatest saving aspects. Input that helps in estimation include costs of each activity within the schedule and the resources for implementing them. The work breakdown structure is another source of information for estimating costs. As noted above, this document has a clear list of all the activities to be undertaken within the project.

A comprehensive cost plan requires many inputs to be put in place. Environmental factors affect implementation of projects. These are the factors determined by the market environment (Ibbs, W., & Kwak, Y. 1997, 5). Availability of the required products and services from suppliers may dictate the price of implementing a project. Most of such information is available in the databases and other platforms, helping to make estimates of the cost of equipment to be used. Pre-determined approaches are the second input that helps in coming up with a comprehensive cost management plan. These well-known guidelines in place help in regulating the industry. Such information may include data from reports of a completed project of the same nature. It may also entail an experience of a team a previous task of a project. A review of such data helps in providing an overview of other factors like the regulations, a number of resources and other constraints of the project.

The schedule management plan is another source of information towards coming up with a comprehensive cost management plan. This document lists all the activities to be undertaken in the project, giving timelines and a number of resources required. Therefore, the document forms a relevant basis where direct costs can be calculated. Lastly, the project management team also determines the cost implication of the project (Stewart, T. 1996, 15). For instance, an experienced team that works together would spend less time in putting everything together, thus cutting on the cost. At the same time, a team with their main focus on a single project will become efficient in delivering the plan in good time, rather than managers whose attention are divided between various activities.

Project Management Structures

Planning the project entails working on a management structure to help in implementing the plan. Management structure helps in putting into place measures towards supervision and implementation of all project activities. Such a structure should be able to encourage smooth interaction among the team members in order ensure smooth implementation of all activities. It is important to note that each project is unique, thus calling for establishing management structures that consider the project environment. The structure can also take different forms, with each form having distinct merits and demerits. Project structure takes the form of a graphical representation of an organizational chart, with the main objective in trying to avoid confusion within the chain of command. The project manager has the responsibility of coming up with a structure that will help serve throughout the project life, avoiding uncertainty and confusion (Sagan, S. 2009, 2).

Cohen, J., & Graham, R. (2001, 5) note that factors considered in designing a project structure are many. Specialization is one of them. In most cases, a project may require specific specialization. Other projects have wide arrays of specialization, requiring different experts at each stage of development. Therefore, the structure should be able to account for the different areas of specialization in the project. However, having different specialties within the same project require hard work on the part of project manager in an attempt to make all departments work together to achieve a common goal. This comes to the need for coordination in order to form a management structure that can deliver the project within the period. Therefore, a structure must ensure a smooth working relationship between departments, creating harmony.

Developing a Project Plan

A project plan helps in the smooth implementation of the project activities, amidst the time constraints. A project network plan is designed in order to provide for the structure of the different activities from the beginning to the end of the project. This indicates some of the expected paths of activities that must take place in order to achieve the goals (Gates, M., & Scarpa, A. 1974, 527). It turns out that project plan is an important document that proves the number of activities undertaken in the process of implementing the project.

References

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Benko, C., & McFarlan, F. 2003. Connecting the Dots. Boston: HBS Press.

Cohen, J., & Graham, R. 2001. The Project Manager’s MBA. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gates, M., & Scarpa, A. 1974. Reward-Risk Ratio, ASCE. Journal of the Construction Division

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Gould, E. 1996. Mamging the Construction Process: Estimating, Scheduling, and Project

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Peters, T. 2004. PM Network, Vol. 18, No. 1, p. 19.

Rothman, C. 2009. “Promising New Lupus Drug Stirs Hope for Millions.” The StarLedger.

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Sagan, S. 2009. “Motorola Hangs Smartphone Future on Android,” PCMag.com.

Stewart, T. 1996. “The Corporate Jungle Spawns a New Species: The Project Manager,”

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