Project Management Research


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I decided to make this research about project management and show what it means to be a Project Manager (PM) and how can you help yourself on the way of been a PM. Also, I want to show my knowledge and experience in coaching and mentoring teams.

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Project Management Research

  1. 1. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ Research activity for Showcase module about the Project Management Created by Tatiana Smirnova Student of course MA Digital Media Management at Hyper Island Manchester 2013
  2. 2. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ Research activity about Project Management 1. Why Project Management is something important for me? I decided to be a project manager 5 years ago and my journey start from “learning by doing” which was interesting experience. Only, I didn’t know that from a very beginning is important to have some basic knowledge about area where do you want to work and what does it mean to be a project manager. That is why I decided to make this research about project management and show what does it mean be a Project Manager (PM) and how you can help yourself on the way of been a PM. Lets start from discharge what kind of Project management we are talking about. I dedicated this research to Project Management for a project, which can be building by using digital technology. PM is always a part of a team and it is two main cases when PM can work on a project: when team has clients or team is a client. As a first part is important to understand that any project should consist from understanding of budget, what your team can do and deadline need to be clear to understand for both side – client and you. As a center of this triangle you need to put Quality and the level of quality will be link with all three components. Traditionally, these constraints have been listed as "scope," "schedule," and "cost". [1] Picture source: 2011. Project management triangle: Facts, Discussion Forum, and Encyclopedia Article. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. 2
  3. 3. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ Going deeper you need to understand all risks if you are missing any of parts from the triangle. 1) Budget/cost – if you are missing this part you don’t know how to create an accounts valuation for your client and you don’t know how much hours of your team you can spent on the project. It doesn’t mean that only client know about budget. Sometimes client can ask you to make a assessed value based on a task or a work content. If you are your own client that an accounts valuation would be you finical plan for a project. 2) Scope – it is possibility of your team and what kind of expertise you can provide to the client and you must know it from the beginning of a project. It means that if you will sell more that you can do or you will sell something that you don’t know how to do, you will put your self and your team in a trap of late hours or even nonfulfillment the contract and just lose a client. Also, it is important to mention that scope is note only about you, it is also about client, on what kind of steps he/she can agree, because you can’t start work on a project which you client is not ready for. 3) Schedule – if you don’t know how much time will or should take a project it is the way to make your self-poor or full. I want to draw your attention to the difference between “will” and “should” take time. If you are saying that it will take X time it means that you know what you are doing and you’ve done it before. You, probable, will ask me, but how I can make a schedule for my startup or project when I’ve never done it before? That is where you can say – it should take X time. It means that you have another factors to make this project done. For example you need to start media campaign in the beginning of season that is why the web site need to be launched by the end of the month or your investors need to see the result by the end of the year. In this case you need to make a schedule based on inputs from outside factors. 3
  4. 4. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ 2. Typical development phases of a project Picture source: 2011. The Project Management Life Cycle - Successfully Guide Your Projects to Completion. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. When you know Cost and Scope of your team and client you can start build a schedule of your project. That is where a PM needed the most. It would be not faire to say that PM is not a part of Cost and Scope it is PM responsibility to know what team can do and how much money they can spend, but it doesn’t mean that PM needs to do it by him/herself. The most important talent of great PM is to know where to find knowledge and when to ask expert to help. So, how PM can make a schedule and how a working process does look like? Typical development phases of a project: 1. Initiation 2. Planning and design 3. Execution and construction 4. Monitoring and controlling systems 5. Completion “I think that people and how they interact on a project are the most important thing, and I think that they need to create a way of working -- a process -- that works best for them. Because their interactions are critical to project success, I suggest that teams begin the work with an approach that will bring them together as people, not one that will let them remain apart, communicating electronically”. — Ron Jeffries, one of the 3 founders of the Extreme Programming (XP) software development methodology circa 1996 4
  5. 5. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ Let's quickly explore what kind of PM system people are using nowadays. 3. The traditional approach or Waterfall At the beginning this method was using in software development and in software development, this approach is often known as the waterfall model, [2] Waterfall development works well for small, well-defined projects, but often fails in larger projects of undefined and ambiguous nature. [3], [4] Picture course: 2013. Waterfall Model. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. In Royce's original waterfall model, the following phases are followed in order: 1) Requirements specification 2) Design 3) Construction (implementation or coding) 4) Integration 5) Testing and debugging 6) Installation 7) Maintenance 5
  6. 6. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ “1) Clients are often comprised of different factions attempting to undermine each other, and conflicts not resolved in contracts are often impossible to avoid, leaving the agency exposed to failure, caused by the client discord. 2) There are a lot of people in the industry who lack the discipline to work in this manner, and the addition of contractors often exacerbates the problem. INFORMED OPINION Is that it is better suited to teams who work together all the time, and in particular for product development, and less comforting to use in high risk environments with a significant amount of customer management.” (c) Dave Quick, Microsoft PM/Lead SDE, Ascentium Director of Technology [13] 4. Agile project management Agile project management is an iterative and incremental method of managing the design and builds activities for engineering, information technology, and new product or service development projects in a highly flexible and interactive manner, for example agile software development. Agile techniques are best used in small-scale projects or on elements of a wider program of work, or on projects that are too complex for the customer to understand and specify before testing prototypes.[5], [6], [7] As you can see below in Agile Manifesto a team is the most important things in this methodology and a human factor counts as well. Before start to use this methodology make sure that your team understand all goals and targets of a project and share all of it with leaders of a project. Team should be able to motivate yourself, support and develop each other. Agile Manifesto: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Working software over comprehensive documentation. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Responding to change over following a plan. [8] 6
  7. 7. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ Picture source: 2009. Intro to Agile Project Management – Help Section for Planbox. [online] Available at: http:// [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. Agile is an umbrella term for multiple methodologies revolving around the Agile Manifesto, including but not limited to [9]: – Scrum – Lean / Kanban – Extreme Programming (XP) – Feature-Driven development (FDD) – Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) – Crystal For example scrum was developed for: 1) Small teams of talented people with a high level of responsibility. 2) Strong buy in from the client(s) who are effectively members of the team. 3) To compensate for the evolutionary accumulation of knowledge as development progresses. 4. Agile and Waterfall I’ve tried to compare two methods (Agile and Waterfall) and found difference between these methods. 7
  8. 8. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ Waterfall Agile Flexibility No, you can not go to the next stage before you didn’t finish a previous one. Frames in terms of deadlines Yes, you can go through a stage quickly and get a feedback about your prototype and that do a stage again Time management It will be faster to use waterfall it you know a process well and you don’t know your team it is more effective way to use Agile if you’ve never done this type of project before, but you know your team very well! Project Management Need one PM for project Don’t need PM but need a facilitator Costumer feedback Only in the end As fast as possible and as many times as it need Risks You can see the whole picture from the beginning and how much money and time you will need Faster way to see risks Focus Quality and following steps Process view human collaboration As a summary I want to share this quote: “I can point out things that throw a wrench in the works of scrum/agile: • if you have lack of communication with your client you are sunk • approval spin locks (i.e. waiting on approval of things over and over either internally or from the client) can kill velocity and make scrum pointless • if you don't have buy in from the client on the methodology of working with them in agile you put yourself into a dangerous place to be working agile internally and attempting to match whatever the client wants/needs. • if your own team does not buy in to doing agile it doesn't work • fixed fee without a fixed scope = how to make a small fortune out of a large one Where I see it working well: • if you're lucky and have a lot of long term relationships with clients, flexible scope, trust and ownership delegated to scrum team, your own agency's management (Delivery Management, Creative, Tech) are aligned in thinking it's a good idea, ability to keep aligned with moving client priorities (either active client planning by an account director in lock step with client or client actually working on backlog), 8
  9. 9. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ longer term projects and work that allow you to understand better task sizing for the team, etc. = agile can be great. (c) Curt Doolittle The Propertarian Institute. [13] 5. Lean Development. As a new method for project management I explored the lean development method. Lean project management uses principles from lean manufacturing to focus on delivering value with less waste and reduced time. [10] In Lean Development, you select, plan develops, test and deploy one feature (in its simplest form) before you select, plan, develop, test and deploy the next feature. By doing this, you further isolate risk to a feature-level. In these environments, you aim to eliminate ‘waste’ wherever possible – you therefore do nothing until you know it’s necessary or relevant. Picture source: The Agilista PM. 2012. Differences between Waterfall, Iterative Waterfall, Scrum and Lean Software Development (In Pictures!). [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. The Lean development methods really good for Startups and provides a scientific approach to creating and managing startups and get a desired product to customers' hands faster. The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup-how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere-and grow a business with maximum acceleration. It is a principled approach to new product development. [14] 9
  10. 10. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ Picture source: 1858. The Lean Startup | Methodology. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 21 Aug 2013]. 6. Tools for PM. The table below contains results of project management tools usage taken from TargetProcess leads (from May to July). [11] People requested trial or free versions of TargetProcess. There were 371 requests with answers about tools usage. [12] 10
  11. 11. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ 7. Interview I’ve made my own research and asked people from digital industry what kind of task manager are they using at work and for life? Are they using agile and waterfall project management approaches with their team/work? My survey felled 50 people with different background and experience. Who are this people? Take a look on the diagram below. 11
  12. 12. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ A couple of interesting observations have been established during the conducted study: – People which experience was 1-2 years or less don’t use any tools for project management, except CEO and Interpreters (Basecamp, Jira). With the year of experience growth more and more people are using as a main task manager for work – Basecamp (from 2 people in 2-3 years of experience to 13 people with more than 5 years of experience). – CEO prefer to use waterfall or Agile+Waterfall, but not only Agile. Header positions like Senior Producer or Projects Director prefer to use Agile or Agile +Waterfall methods. I can assume that is because CEO need to think about business from long-term perspective and PM can improvise with tasks, but they also need to have control and need to have ability to explain to a boss what is going on with project. Interesting answers from the survey on the question: “Which methodology and tools you feel are the most useful when planning digital projects?” “Merlin or Omniplan + Spreadsheets will take care of 99% of all the planning you need. Basecamp or other management tools are great for project communication 12
  13. 13. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ and of course lastly, nothing beats team workshops in getting aligned and efficiently moving forward.” Johnny Michaelsen, Senior Producer at Fantasy Interactive, Inc. “Agile methodologies, Prioritisation, Task Analysis, Concept-before-backlog” Lawrence Kitson, Design Lead, Interaction Design & UX at ustwo™ 8. Summaries and my Experience. Waterfall, Agile and Lean methods were made for software development, but they adapted to be a part of project management so easily and now it is the main methods in a working process nowadays. In my experience it is no perfect method or tool to work with your team on your project. I believe that teamwork should start from building a culture, purpose and goals that is the best way how to become efficient. Also, I want to notes that role of a Project Manger is constantly changing and now it is more about facilitation and big-picture-keeper instead of manager who controls all tasks and deadlines. As a project manager for the past 5 years I use to use a lot the waterfall method and it works perfect when you know what you are doing, you know all process, you know what is your final goal, even if people in your team are new. Now I am using and consulting in all three methods. 9. References: [1] 2013. About Us | Agile Leadership Network. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. [2] 2001. Manifesto for Agile Software Development. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. [3] 2003. MANAGING THE DEVELOPMENT OF LARGE SOFTWARE SYSTEMS. [online] Available at: cmsc838p/Process/waterfall.pdf [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. [4] 2007. A short course in project management - Project [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. 13
  14. 14. Tatiana Smirnova ___________________________________________________________________ [5] 2008. Which Life Cycle Is Best for Your Project? - PM Hut. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. [6] Quora. 2013. Can scrum/agile project management be used effectively in a digital agency?. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. [7] 2007. The genealogy of lean production. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. [8] Stellman, A. and Greene, J. 2006. Applied software project management. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly. [9] 2009. Intro to Agile Project Management – Help Section for Planbox. [online] Available at: 206597-intro-to-agile-project-management [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. [10] 2009. Intro to Agile Project Management – Help Section for Planbox. [online] Available at: 206597-intro-to-agile-project-management [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. [11], [12] 2008. Agile Tools. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 20 Aug 2013]. [13] Wysocki, R. and Mcgary, R. 2003. Effective Project Management. New York: Wiley. [14] 1858. The Lean Startup | Methodology. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 21 Aug 2013]. 14