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  • 1. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India “Project Management - Ethics versus business interest, how to cope with conflicting scenarios." Piyush Govil PMP® Vice-President (ITCONS e-Solutions Pvt. Ltd) Archana Sharma PMP® Delivery Project Manager (Mpahsis an HP Company)2|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 2. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India Contents 1 What do you mean by ethics? How many times have you refreshed your concepts about ethics?.....................................................................................................................................4 2 Do ethical parameters vary from region to region?............................................................4 3 Assembling and Exercising Ethical Values........................................................................5 4 How do you cope with such circumstances? .....................................................................5 5 The Journey Begins............................................................................................................6 6 Ethical Impasse during Execution Phase...........................................................................6 7 Inference from a Project Management Community forum................................................7 8 Ethical Impasse during Pre-Sales Phase.............................................................................7 9 Conjectures by Project Management Community..............................................................8 10 Laying a Foundation for an Unhealthy Business Environment.....................................10 11 Ethical Impasse While Monitoring the Project Health...................................................10 12 Laying a Foundation for an Unhealthy Business Environment.....................................11 13 Conclusion......................................................................................................................12 14 About the Authors: ........................................................................................................12 15 Acknowledgement:.........................................................................................................14 16 Reference:.......................................................................................................................143|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 3. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India Ethics and business interest are like two contestants striving to stay ahead of the other to seize their clientele. Amazingly everyone may be wondering how to recognize who are the potential clientele. Surprisingly, the answer is: we as a Project Management community are esteemed clientele. Project Leader’s as a ‘buyer’ encounters Business Interest and Ethics as two ‘sellers’ at each step in the entire life cycle of a project. It is the choice of the Project leader to choose the seller; however, most of the time their decisions are driven by the excessive delivery pressure from stakeholders. They lean to choose the easiest path rather than a complex one, which may or may not lie within ethical periphery. Being ethically correct always helps in long run.1 What do you mean by ethics? How manytimes have you refreshed your concepts about ethics? Ethics, by definition, is the code of conduct in which one adheres to when involved in professional engagements. Ethics and Morals go side by side as the former is behavior based in professional life and the latter is more person or human oriented.2 Do ethical parameters vary from region toregion? Ethical behavior varies as it crosses geographical boundaries. Behavior by individual or by group may be ethically acceptable in certain geographies and the same conduct is absolutely unacceptable in other geography. In the era of globalization, the project management community carries a huge responsibility on their shoulders and is also accountable for their ethical conduct. They have to create equilibrium without jeopardizing the integrity of the organization as a whole. Multi located corporations; therefore, formulate common ethic polices for employees wrapping up with best practices across industries that are acceptable across geographies. “The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.” ~Zig Ziglar Nowadays it looks like every one of us is in some kind of a rat race to stay ahead professionally. We focus our attention to our conduct and make determinations based on acceptable and unacceptable ethical parameters. People articulate that this competitive world does not allow one to take sufficient time to revisit the conduct or the decisions made due to various compulsions. Is it really complex to4|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 4. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India measure various decisions taken to get new business on ethical parameters? Do we always have to compromise? It is true in numerous occasions; it leaves many of us at a juncture where no room is left for a person to evaluate actions. 3 Assembling and Exercising Ethical Values When we began our educational journey, we were taught moral science to develop our ethical values and follow the path of ethical conduct throughout life. When one enters the corporate world, lessons learned in moral science class helps to instill the code of conduct in one’s professional life. The code of conduct policy protects organization as well as individual employees from harm resulting from unethical practice. Basically it is handed over to employees to refresh moral lessons and provide guidance to handle conflicting situations. In contrary to various excuses made to correct judgment, based on the situation, we would like to bring up an interesting fact. As we grow and move from college to professional life, every one of us make use of various subjects learned since our school days. We use mathematical operators to do all sorts of calculations in preparing estimates, etc. We make use of science topics like physics, chemistry or biology, and math for innovations to help save life and meet daily demands. Why does it seem we forget our lessons learned in moral science classes? Is the act of exercising ethical values so complex? Are we trying to stand ahead of each other by hook or crook? 4 How do you cope with such circumstances? As such, there is no definitive answer or solution to such scenarios. Moreover it depends on how best the situation is judged by a person and performed based on the conscience. In some cases Project Leaders refer to related decisions made in earlier projects. It has also been observed Project Leaders make decisions based on a general trend in an organization or learn by observing the decision making methods of reporting managers during the course of their acquaintance with them. It is really tough for a Project Leader to make a decision under such circumstances. These decisions should be weighed, balanced and mitigated for future adverse implications.5|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 5. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India5 The Journey Begins We intend to present our paper on cases/scenarios collated, based on the different anecdotes encountered during professional life and inferences from project management professional forums. Project Management professionals may find that couple of the cases they have come across at some point of time during the entire life cycle of the project or career. It is also possible that you may have never encountered such scenarios. This paper possibly confers an opportunity to learn and take a vital step, if encountered and geared up with some corrective actions, when similar circumstances arise. During the entire life cycle of the project it is obvious that the Project Leaders may land up in a crisis situation due to various reasons. A state of dilemma and apprehension to share information, at that moment with major stakeholders whom could be a client or senior management, may lead to more trouble. Maintaining transparency with stakeholders always facilitates making the right decision at tough times and helps build one’s own credibility. It is observed that a majority of time, when information dissemination is proactively handled, one can deal with tricky situations with ease. Those who are involved in projects, and are affected due to crises situations, surely collaborate to sail safely to shores.6 Ethical Impasse during Execution Phase An interesting case cropped up during the execution phase of a project: Try to step into the shoes as a Project Leader in this situation and introspect how you would muddle through such a situation. A Case… You are a Project Manager (PM) on a global project X which is a Time and Materials contract. One of your critical resources resigns and leaves the project during the particular phase where his skill set is most required. A Challenge… To avoid any backlash from the client, your PM says not to apprise the client of the resource resignation. Instead he proposes to use a relatively new resource, which does not possess the required skill set and expertise. This new resource would work in the name of the resource that resigned and also use the email id of the old resource. A state of dilemma… You are not comfortable in communicating this unethical decision of your supervisor. What will you do? However, in order to avoid any business loss you may be forced to continue with what your supervisor says. How would you cope with the situation where you feel morally compromised?”6|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 6. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India 7 Inference from a Project Management Community forum When the above scenario was discussed in the Project Management Global Community Forum, we received remarkable comments from professionals. Business ethics differs across geographical boundaries. Consequently this includes expression of thought. Professionals suggested that this scenario not only falls within ethical boundary; it can be treated as fraud and moreover, do not hesitate to share that their country has a law to protect the whistle blower. Quite a few professionals put forward their views in a modest manner and maintained that transparency always facilitates the maintaining of credibility and avoids multiplying more unethical decisions to be taken to hide the first unethical decision. Professional also shared it is preferable to take your customers into confidence and put their foot down against the will of the supervisor that made the unethical decision. In practical terms taking such a stand against a supervisor’s advice is certainly a brave stand as insubordination may have an adverse effect on immediate career growth. In contrast, a successful ethical project completion shall lead to immense learning, while establishing the trust of your customer, for you and can pave the way for future business opportunities with same customer. As rightly said, this does not have a decisive answer and thoughts expressed are all based on individual’s ideology. As an author we ourselves do not have a remedy. What you think, do you have an answer?8 Ethical Impasse during Pre-Sales Phase Today every business faces cutthroat competition with ever increasing new players. Organizations are not willing to leave any stone unturned to win projects. To win new clients or get new assignments from existing clientele is equally difficult due to competition. Winning the existing client’s confidence requires a job well done with sustained reputation and credibility. Project management professionals involved in drafting proposals may spend sleepless nights to prove the Unique Selling Point (USP) of their organization and work under extreme pressure to win the project work for their company. When any PM performs under stress with capability at stake and growing pressure from senior management, there are chances of stumbling upon questionable values which may hurt individual’s ethical beliefs. As per individual ideology certain actions may possibly lie outside the ethical periphery; however at the same time those actions are deemed acceptable to get the business.7|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 7. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India Here, we present another case which everyone may have come across, when involved during the pre-sales phase in your organization. When no direct involvement pre-sales team connects to discuss project details to fill in the technical gaps in the proposals. A case… “You are a PM and have to submit a proposal for a new project to client X. You have read the RFP and know that the technology is new to your organization and skills are not available. However due to organization strength, you are convinced that the company can hire the skills on demand. As per the RFP requirement, you have to mention previous projects executed using the same technology. Your company has just started the first project using the same technology and is training resources. A contest with inner soul…It is clearly stated in the RFP to declare previous projects executed using the same technology. Though the company does not have implementation experience, your Director wants you to respond to the RFP making a claim that you have several projects in implementation stages. A sticky situation… To win the project bid, you refer to projects executed in your organization on a different technology by changing the information about that technology. You also attached the resume of an Architect drafted, at your end, with the required technology expertise. This action is unethical. It is fraudulent to state that you have experience where you do not even though you think what you are doing is in the businesses best interest. What would you do in this situation – Business or Ethics? 9 Conjectures by Project Management Community When this case was presented to the Project Management Community to solicit their viewpoint, their contribution was remarkable. Many professionals commented that the pre-sales team’s aim is to win project contract as their job is at stake. Due to cut throat competition, and to achieve their quotas, they have to frame proposals accordingly. Bigger organizations are sufficiently equipped and capable of acquiring matching skills resources on8|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 8. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India demand and execute the project. To remain profitable in business they have to showcase their strengths. Over showcasing can potentially lead to project failure and bring about a bad name. One has to state a team ramp-up plan, of experienced resources required, as soon as the contract is awarded with reference to similarities in earlier projects. This is the best approach and is acceptable in all markets. A catch 22 situation for a buyer is seen during the selection process of the vendor. They have to select the best out of all the vendors based on the past projects and market credibility. What you think? What will you choose ethics or business? Practically to win the bid you may choose business, however to execute the project for a successful completion, you may choose not to leave the ethical track so that you are able to build credibility with the client. If you step in the shoes of the client what will you do? When you have to evaluate proposals, have you ever had brainstorming sessions with similar questions on submitted proposals? Have you ever had a chance to select the same vendor, even when you know they do not have the expertise and even though it is mentioned in the proposal they have the required skills for the project? “When a company or individual compromises one time, whether its on price or principle, the next compromise is right around the corner and you can bet your last nickel on it.” ~Zig Ziglar One other case we observed during the pre-sales meeting between a ‘seller’ and ‘buyer’ of the project. We would like you to step in the shoes of as a PM. A Case… You are a PM; during your meeting with customer you agreed upon all the requirements, as you have to achieve your quota numbers and met your target. You were able to secure the order. You briefly described the requirement and forwarded the information to the delivery team. The delivery team found the requirements very simple and estimated the duration and resources accordingly. Your client is glad that they will get the product with all the scoped items, on time. A challenge… When intermediate deliverables begin delivery, the team starts getting hit. Deliverables were not matching with the client’s expectation and specifications.9|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 9. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India Discussions started between delivery team and your customer. The Project Delivery Team argued that the client’s expectation was not in scope. The client, at this stage, does not agree and puts forward that specifications had already been agreed upon during the pre-award stage. A state of dilemma… As a delivery team you have to put forth extra effort. Resources required must be made available to meet client’s expectations and to avoid your organization getting a bad name. 10 Laying a Foundation for an Unhealthy Business Environment Being a PM your personal goals are not above organization’s goals. To achieve your quota numbers and in the process making other team deliverables vulnerable, is not acceptable ethically. This also directly spoils an organizations name. One has to set goals that are in line with an organization’s goal. Have you also performed in the similar manner if being part of pre-sales team? What would be your reactions? Suppose you were leading the delivery team? Business Interest and Ethics both has a vital role to play, do you agree? 11 Ethical Impasse While Monitoring the Project Health Project, by definition, is a unique activity. During the entire life cycle a PM has to cross many barriers starting from the scope until closuring activities. PM’s have to engage their stakeholders by constituting proper communication channels to deliver project deliverables successfully. To keep all stakeholders apprised proactively, information dissemination is one of the most important techniques of project management. PM’s have a huge responsibility to maintain various matrices to monitor the progress and health of the project and share this data with stakeholders. A case… You are a PM in ‘X’ organization certified by a software engineering maturity model body. You are handling a global project and, to meet the minimum requirements for certification, you have been asked to maintain certain metrics to monitor the health of a project during its entire life cycle. The organization’s process team organized regular meetings to record and take stock of the project requirements. These records are updated for external auditors and to help project teams make corrective actions in case of lacunae’s.10|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 10. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India The standard matrices provided to you are more appropriate for a development project rather than support project. Your project is not purely a development project it is more a support project with enhancements in the client’s existing system. Users of the system, at your client’s end, based on day to day experience report changes which lead to frequent changes for your team. Due to which priorities of deliverables also changes accordingly. A challenge… You are facing difficulty to fulfill the organizational need to update the matrices and to show the data that your project is achieving 100% health. Due to frequent change request from your client, you have to redefine, and reschedule activities based on priorities agreed upon between you and the client. You have a challenge to fulfill the organization requirement by entering appropriate data into matrices to show health status and progress of your project. Due to changing priorities your project health on papers does not meet the minimum satisfactory level for the organizations process group; however, you and your client are on same page. Your client is highly satisfied with your project management activities and work progress on defined priorities. A state of dilemma…To satisfy senior management neither your delivery manager nor your Software Engineering Process Group likes to differentiate project kind whether it is development project or a support project. They instruct or amend suggested changes to the metrics accordingly and want you to cook data to fit the already existing standard matrices used for other projects. In the organizational process review meeting nobody tries to understand your viewpoint and they want you to show data as they see fit. Nobody seems bothered whether the data is relevant to your day-to-day project management. 12 Laying a Foundation for an Unhealthy Business Environment During your appraisal cycle because of your reluctance to cook data, to simply satisfy your supervisor’s demand, your supervisor wrote unable to meet project management minimum requirement and your grade was determined on the basis of appraisal comments. Should the discussion above be linked with the performance of an employee? How would you react? What action might you have taken when you are the supervisor dealing with a similar case? At such junctures why do we miss the11|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 11. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India recalling of our moral lessons whereas we always want to apply mathematical operators to form the best data to satisfy the need? “Divorced from ethics, leadership is reduced to management and politics to mere technique. “ - James MacGregor Burns13 Conclusion The project management community carries a huge responsibility for delivering projects within triple constraints of scope, time and cost. Add to that a quality wrapper to build their respective nations and to imbibe high ethical values. Business Interest and Ethics should go hand-in-hand rather than be looked upon as contestants. Both entities are found standing face-to-face at a number of junctures. Both claim that they are within their defined ethical periphery. Professionals engaged in business need to take a balanced approach while making decisions without compromising on credibility as well as integrity. ***********************14 About the Authors: Archana Sharma B.E, MS, ITIL, PMP® Delivery Project Manager (Mpahsis an HP Company) Archana has over 16 years spanning 12 years in Telecom Software Delivery and 4 years in IT Program Management Consultancy & project Delivery in Banking Domain. Archana is certified ITIL V3 Foundation and12|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 12. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India Project Management Professional (PMP®). She has been associated with PMI since 2009 has been actively involved in PMBOK fourth edition review. Archana’s 16 years of professional journey started from ITI Ltd, further associated with Daewoo Telecom, Hughes Software Systems, EDS and currently associated with Mpahsis an HP Company. Piyush Govil B.E., PMP® Vice-President (ITCONS e-Solutions Pvt. Ltd) Piyush has over 16 years of experience majorly into software development Project Management. He has major experience in managing software products for US Education domain. In earlier days of his career he has being involved in IT infrastructure management before moving into IT software development. He has been associated with PMI since 2007 being member of various standards team like Program Management, Risk Management Item writing committee and others. In his current role, he is managing the Talent Management Software product development to new business acquisition. Piyush is founding member of “PMI Ethics in Project Management Community of Practice” and associated with PMI North India Chapter as Vice-President- Communication13|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management
  • 13. Project Management National Conference 2011 PMI India15 Acknowledgement: 1. Sangita Garg B.E., M.tech (Senior Consultant) 2. Dr. Sonya Surrett LS, PMP, CLC (Decision Life Coach) We are honored; they selflessly helped us in reviewing our paper and provided valuable suggestions.16 Reference: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-ethics-and-morals.htm14|P a g e Application of Select Tools of Psychology for Effective Project Management