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A Strategic Approach towards Project Management
Masters at University of South Florida, Tampa (2015)
Bachelors at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (1996)
Has 16 years of industry experience in the field of project management and development work in the semiconductor, oil and energy, specialty chemicals and steel industry.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone # - 813-474-8829
Abstract: Effective project management helps to reduce and manage risks resulting in better team coordination leading to superior team productivity and smooth operation of the project. It further creates an organized approach towards managing material, money and human resources in the project leading to enhanced resource planning and allocation of resources and puts in place a methodology where lines of accountability are short and the responsibilities of individuals are clearly defined. This paper discusses a new methodology which is a ten step approach towards project management since most large projects in an organization are very resource hungry. This approach of project management can be used in wide varieties of projects ranging from engineering projects to enterprise resource planning. These steps are business process study, project scope management, organizational planning, project plan management, resource allocation, project risk management, execution and implementation, training, project report and finally closing of the project. It discusses the process involved in each of these steps and provides a controlled way of managing projects leading to optimization of resources namely money, materials and human resources in an organization. This paper further breaks up the ten steps of project management structure into three broad categories referred to as the three phases.
Introduction: Project management provides a structured approach towards identification, strategizing, planning, designing, execution, implementation and re-engineering of strategic business and technology goals. An organized and structured approach towards these projects is essential in successful execution and implementation of the projects which leads to reduced downtime, no budget overflows and effective utilization of an organization’s resources Effective project management helps to standardize and systemize it as an engineering discipline. When all the above mentioned factors are carefully taken into consideration, it leads to better management and implementation of the program.
Discussion: There are basically ten steps to project management (Figure 1). These steps are business process study, project scope management, organizational planning, project plan management, resource allocation, project risk management, execution and implementation, project training, project report and closing off on the project. These steps can be broadly divided into three phases (Figure 2). These are phase 1 which is the preliminary phase and consists of business process study and project
scope management and is the initial phase of the project. This phase is an effective tool in analyzing the business and technical requirements of the organization to make it a leader in the marketplace. It puts in place a system which helps the decision makers of the organization to prioritize the resources for effective project management. The second phase is the execution and implementation phase which consists of detailed steps from organizational planning to execution and implementation of the project. This is the technical implementation phase of the project and it puts in place a process map and methodology for the execution and implementation of the project. The idea is to translate business requirements into technical requirements by carefully studying and mapping the processes. This requires careful team selection for the project. It further requires prioritizing and allocation of the resources in the project and a thorough assessment and management of risks involved in the proper execution and implementation of the project. The third phase is the final phase of the project and is the post implementation phase and consists of project training, report and signing off on the project. In this phase the project transitions from the development phase to a full blown production environment. It also involves preparing reports and manuals and training of all individuals from management to end users on the newly implemented process. The three phases is basically a systematic approach to the ten steps of project management and provides a direction on how to proceed with the optimization of the resources for effective project management.
Figure 1 – Ten Steps to an effective Project Management
Figure 2 – Phased Approach in Project Management
Business Process Study: The objective here is to define the strategic business goals for the organization. This requires a detailed business analysis including organizational and historical information, operational information, financial information, market study and ROI investigation to support the objectives of the project. It is important to first identify the business strategy in place which involves an overall identification of existing processes and conceived processes and mapping of business processes that needs to be resolved. Once the business analysis is done it is important to compare these metrics to industry standards to establish a baseline. Clear linkages with business strategy along with creating a strategic map needs to be created to define cause and effect linkages. This establishes a business case for investing in the project by making a case for business alignment of the objectives and values of the organization that can be highlighted and realized through this investment which further helps in identifying business requirements and high level problems that project management implementation will help resolve.
Project Scope Management: This involves establishing a technical case for investing in the project by identifying business processes that needs to be re-engineered and mapped into project functionalities. Technical baseline scope identification needs to be done by redefining project goals and objectives along with project deliverables and timeframes. Major business processes that will be transformed through this implementation needs to be scoped and a study of the relationship of the project with the legacy system needs to be established and the pros and cons of the implementation needs to be evaluated. Project management’s impact on the business being run differently also needs to be established along with its effect on employees and their jobs and training and implementation issues. Detailed evaluation and selection involving assessment of benefits, flexibility, maintenance and support challenges, risks involved, functional capabilities, expansion potential, value enhancements and technology deliverables needs to be evaluated during this process. Changes in the technical structure needs to be identified along with its impact on business and technical processes to create a cohesive business operation model using the future established as infrastructure of backbone needs to be evaluated. It is important in this process identify which development work and functionalities will have the maximum impact on new infrastructure of project and conduct a feasibility study and ROI investigation of the selected process. Again in this phase the goal is to scope out major processes and technologies that will be transformed to do a feasibility study in terms of technology and its impact on the business being run differently.
Organizational Planning: The objective here is to establish a structured approach towards team formation and effective communication between the team members in the project to achieve strategic goals and deliverables for the successful execution and implementation of the program. Most big projects puts heavy demands on personnel working on these projects. Therefore it becomes project managers and steering committees job of careful staff acquisition for the project for their intended roles and responsibilities as prime movers and shakers of the project. Careful team development should include representatives from different functional groups from all departments that will be affected by re-engineering along with technology partners and external internal customers as applicable. It also involves delegating responsibilities to each and every member of the project along with their intended role and involvement in the program. A program for project time management (Figure 3) needs to be established along with establishing a proper communication channel between the members of the project and project activity and milestone deliverables also needs to be established. A consistent method and format for information distribution among team members from electronic mail system to in person information and data distribution to providing status reports to supervisors and management needs to be established. It also involves evaluation and monitoring of the project progress on a regular basis to keep track of the competency of the team and the program for the timely execution of the project. This is a very important phase of the project and involves diligence and careful thought process for the project to be successful.
Figure 3 – Project Management Time Management
Project Plan Management: The goal here is to establish a detailed breakdown of the strategic business requirements into technical and functional requirements by mapping the project deliverables from all angles for the successful implementation of the project. It is basically a technology implementation plan. The idea is to translate business requirements into technical requirements by first identifying key business process flows that the business will transform. It further involves detailed implementation strategy and proper sequencing and scheduling of each step in the implementation process for successful execution and implementation of the project. This step also involves detailed implementation strategy and proper sequencing and scheduling of each step in the implementation process for successful execution and implementation of the program. The details of the implementation process should include thoroughly defined scheduling to include realistic goals, costs and timeframes to minimize system downtime. Each factors affecting the implementation plan ranging from business factors, technology factors, budgetary factors and human factors should be carefully analyzed such that they are broken down in different phases of the program for effective execution and implementation. Process maps should be explored from every angle and solutions provided along with configuration for the worst case scenarios. There should be stress on automation as opposed to manual intervention along with realistic goals and milestones simple straightforward solutions.
Resource Allocation: The objective is to properly allocate and delegate the project resources to the project deliverables to comply with time and budget constraints along with project metrics for the successful implementation of the project. The idea is to identify major resources namely money, human resources and material that will be required for the project. Strategic goals of the project should be prioritized and the team should develop simulations or create scenarios to allow flexibility and tolerances on the project deliverables to prevent scope creep during the implementation process. Contingency plans should be developed to avoid budgetary issues along with developing a detailed methodology for complying with the above requirements where ever possible or applicable
Risk Management: The objective here is to develop solutions and methodology for successful risk management for the project thereby leading to successful execution and implementation of the project. First step in risk management involves risk identification which involves a detailed identification and analysis of the constraints of the project including budgeting, time and performance and safety issues to name a few. This involves developing a detailed quantitative and qualitative risk management plan by developing a system for monitoring, identifying and tracking progress for effective risk management and control. It further involves developing a methodology for risk response along with appointing a risk response committee. Roles and responsibilities needs to be clearly defined and delegated to each member of the cross functional team to effectively manage risks and minimize downtime and manage change control. Quality control issues needs to be assessed and quality plan should be developed and quality assurances and control activities should be carried out. The quality and risk management team should implement high risk scenarios and simulations of high risk processes to evaluate the scope of the program. The objective thereby is to develop a shared understanding of the program and the best tool for identifying all of the attributes of the project objective and deliverables to quantify and manage risks effectively.
Project Execution and Implementation: The objective is to put execution and implementation process in place involving prioritizing and sequencing of the different phases of implementation such that it results in minimized downtime and effective execution and implementation of the project. This involves full scale implementation of the project across the floor requiring tracking and monitoring of the activities of the tools and humans through rigorous monitoring and data collection. This further involves execution of a rigorous change management process to control changes to the project’s objective, specifications and overall definition. Contingency plans should also be put in place if there are any issues. Effective risk management should take place by anticipating potential risks and resolving the problem before they become an issue and taking corrective actions if there are any issues. It involves preparing the go live strategy and the cutover plan along with simulating go live scenarios and readying the production system and preparing for technical go live. Roles and responsibilities of the team members and the departments should be defined and channels of communication should also be open and clearly defined. Project schedule and timeline should be
followed upon as discussed and planned in the project plan management stage and the projects goals and objectives should be restated for the execution and implementation phase.
Project Training: The goal is to transfer knowledge and train and familiarize the employees and the management with the newly implemented process for effective execution of the processes within the organization. Formal classes and courseware for the end users as well as system developers and technical support staff should be prepared along with onsite training workshops. It is important to determine the personnel that need to be trained from management to end users and customizing and delivering training curriculum accordingly. Computer based and online training product documents and user manuals should be created and a system should be set up to provide certification and a feedback loop to improve the value of the training
Project Report: Create a format for the project which basically covers each step of the project management plan from business process study to go live according to client and project requirements. The data for the final report should come from all the information that that was collected during the course of the project in the form of actual reports (namely weekly or management reports), e-mail transactions of information and or the database system that was set up for project communication. The report should also include all the projects business requirements, all the system settings that were made to satisfy the requirements in the implementation phase and all the business and technical decisions that were taken to overcome issues during every phase of the project. The project report should serve as a future reference material or a guide for the organization as they maintain the system after the project has been completed.
Project Closing: This involves final signing off on the project where the project transitions from development, training and testing stages to a full blown production environment. It should also involve preparing operations and help desk along with updating “as-is” documentation and providing future support and service information along with support agreements and leveraging joint escalation centers. There should be post implementation evaluation and support along with monitoring during go live week and in the real work and planning for continuous improvement This final step requires signing off on the project and contract closeout.