Project Management Advanced
Course Code: PM3
Project Management Advanced
This course deals with advanced aspects of Project Management form risk assessment to risk management and conflict resolutions.
Duration: 45 m.
Author/Source: Giulia Costantino, Lorenzo Costantino (IDP)
Tags: project management, courses, training, volunteering
Starting: 21/11/2012 Ending: 01/01/2014
Module 1: The project budget: resources available and the definition of a sound budget
DU 1.1 The Project Budget:
The project budget
The budget of the project identifies the resources needed to produce the set results within the identified timeframe. Resources are one of the three main elements of a Project (together with Time and Results).
The detailed budget should be drafted after defining all the other elements of the project: results (qualitative and quantitative); duration; WBS; roles and responsibilities. This is because each of these elements can influence the definition of a correct budget (e.g.: if your
project intends to organize information seminars, the number of seminars you want to organize, their “style” –more or less formal, the type of location etc-, the number and type of participants attending. All these elements will influence the budget).
The budget is part of the Project Plan, which is drafted and approved during the Planning phase.
Definition of a sound budget
Resources are not only financial: they represent all you need to implement your project.
According to PM theory, there are seven categories of resources:
- People (the project team)
- Materials and supplies
When drafting the budget, you should consider carefully:
- The type of resources needed
- Are they available within your organisation or should you find them (and pay for them) outside?
- The cost estimates for each resource (see below in next section)
When drafting the budget you should consider
- Which types of resources do you need
- Which measure
- The complete costs for each category of resources
Types of resources:
To define this, you need to have a clear picture of the entire project.
The main elements of the Project Plan will help you in this exercise: the objectives, the results, the WBS and the Gantt chart. Measure: The Gantt chart represents a very efficient tool to measure the quantity of resources you will need, starting with the Human resources and their costs
IMPORTANT: even if you are involving volunteers, it is important to calculate the effort needed to accomplish a certain task, for a number of reasons:
- You want to know for how much time the person should be available
- The person wants to know how much time he/she must dedicate to the project
- Should the person, for any reason, not be able to finish the project, you know for which effort you need to fond a substitute
Even if some resources are available “for free” you should consider the costs of using them: e.g. if you involve volunteers in the implementation of project activities, you don’t pay for their work, but their involvement can entail some costs: transportation; insurance; food; a uniform (even a t-shirt); some basic training, etc. The same for material resources available for your organisation (e.g.: premises: you don’t pay for their use, but maybe you will need to pay for services related to their use: power, cleaning, insurance, etc).
Moreover, you should carefully consider not only the cost to acquire a material resource, but also the costs generated by its use: a typical example is a car: you pay to buy it, but also for the insurance, the fuel, etc. A correct budget takes all these elements into consideration.
Module 2: Risk Management and contingency plans
DU 2.1 Risk Management and contingency plans
Definition of risk in Project Management
Projects are subject to constraints and risks. They are relevant not only during project implementation, but already at the earlier stage of Project Planning. What is the difference between risks and constraints?
Constraints are limits known in advance. A constraint can be the time limit or the financial limits you have. You need to take them into consideration both when planning (e.g. scheduling the project or defining the budget) and when implementing the project (e.g. for decision making). Ignoring constraints during project planning will lead to failure.
Constraints can relate to one or more of the following project elements:
- Budget and resources
- External environment (e.g. formal authorizations to hold a public event)
Risks present two features: uncertainty -you don’t know if this situation will actually occur. If it does incur a loss, it generates a problem for your project. Identifying and anticipating risks before they occur and setting up possible corrective measures will make you face the risks in a shorter time and with a smaller loss: you are already prepared! This is a “proactive approach”.
You want to identify and assess risks already in the Planning phase of the project life cycle. This will allow you to consider the resources you will need to face the risks (be it time, human or financial resources).
To identify the risks linked to your project, you can use the following sources:
- Your experience
- Your project team members
- Knowledge within your organisation deriving from previous similar projects
- Stakeholders’ experiences
- If needed, external experts’ advice
Besides identifying the risks, you also need to assess them, in order to be able to prioritise them and decide which are worth taking into consideration in your Project Plan.
Assessing the risks requires you to evaluate their relevance on the project, by analyzing their two features: uncertainty and loss. You will need to estimate the likeliness of the risk to occur and its impact on the project.
To do so, you can use a simple tool called a “Risk assessment grid”, where you identify the risk, the probability it occurs and the impact on the project.
The grid refers to the organisation of an open air fund raising event in July.
Tackling the risks
The following steps will help you to manage effectively the risks in your project:
- Identify the risks early, during Project Planning
- Analyse and assess them using the Risk Assessment Grid
- Prioritise them: focus only on the most relevant (those with a highest degree of relevance)
- Plan the answers to the most relevant
- Define responsibilities: who is in charge?
- Communicate about the risks: the project team needs to be informed, and you might need the consensus of the major stakeholders (e.g. the board of your organisation, or the main sponsor of the operation)
- Keep track of risks (also for future projects)
Choose the right answer: you can consider different options to face the risks:
- Avoid the risk: plan your project in such a way that the risk is not likely to occur, or to impact your project (in our example, plan the event indoor to avoid the risks linked to bad weather)
- Mitigate the risk: try to influence the causes of the risks so as to minimise the probabilities of its occurrence or the impact (in our example, put some pressure on the office in charge of issuing the permit)
- Develop a contingency plan: developing the corrective measure in advance (if the relevance of the risk is high) can help you save time or resources if the risk occurs (in our example, being prepared to rent the gazebo)
- Transfer the risk: typical actions include taking out insurance or outsourcing parts of the projects. This is often quite an expensive solution (in our example it could be finding an external supplier, e.g. hiring people to attend to the stand for longer opening hours)
- Accept the risk: if the relevance of the risk is very low, you can consider this option as the definition of a plan would cost more (in terms of time or other resources) than facing the risk if it occurs. It is very important, though, that this be a conscious and shared choice.
Module 3: Managing the project team: conflict resolution
DU 3.1 Conflict resolution
Why conflicts and which conflicts?
Managing the conflict
As the team is key to project implementation, conflicts are inevitable in each project, and usually are strongest at inception. They are not always negative, as by tackling them you can be informed of troubles that would affect the project at a later stage, highlight some critical elements, and even enhance some of the solutions planned.
To effectively face and solve a conflict within the team, it is important to recognize it and to know what caused it in the first instance.
Some of the most common causes of conflicts in a project are:
- Lack of commitment on project goals: the person does not share the same vision of the rest of the team on some key elements of the project (it can be the goals, the schedule, the roles). This can be due to poor communication of the project structure, misunderstandings or different perceptions. One way of avoiding this as a cause of a conflict is to make sure all project team members have a clear vision of all project elements; when communicating the roles (e.g. n the individual meetings at project inception or during the kick off meeting) make sure that your message is complete. Do not assume your explanation was clear!
- Role uncertainty: as above, sometimes people feel frustrated by the fact that they are not sure about their role or responsibility in the project. Effective and complete communication from your side can avoid this type of conflicts.
- Schedule is misunderstood: again, it is your responsibility to make sure all project team share the complete vision of the project
- Personality clashes: this source of conflicts can be very common in an environment like volunteering, where people have many different backgrounds. Age, different experience and training, erroneous assumptions, all contribute to potential conflicts among team members.
As a Project Manager, it is part of your responsibility to manage conflicts.
First of all, it is important that you recognize a conflict. Internal and informal communication, spending time with different members of the team, planning an appropriate number of project meetings: all these actions can help you gain a clear picture of the real feelings of the team members. Moreover, you should make it clear that you’re always available for interaction with team members.
When a conflict is identified, there are different possible actions you can take and options to face the conflict:
- Knowing the issues: one effective action is to invite both parties to explain –separately- the situation from their point of view. Encourage frank, open discussion and avoid quick judgment: you should use these sessions to gain information regarding the issue
- Separate the people from the matter, and concentrate on the latter: you should try to be objective and form an idea on what is the core of the problem without letting your personal feelings for the people involved influence you.
- Keep your focus on your main interest, which is the correct implementation of the project.
- After a (short) period to choose the solution, illustrate your decision to both sides, either separately or together. Remind people that you are all involved in a common project, and that you should all try to get the best out of it.
You can chose to:
- Negotiate: finding a compromise between the two parties, trying to apply a win-win approach
- Smooth down the impact of the conflict, highlighting areas of agreement and minimizing the disagreements. This solution, though, could represent only a temporary answer to the problem, which is likely to rise again.
- Consider the possibility of satisfying the requests of one or both parties: it can be the case that a small change in project planning, with little consequences on the overall project, can solve the situation (e.g. if the conflict is about schedule or roles)
- Make the two parties confront each other openly: this can be a difficult solution to manage, but can be also a good option, especially for conflicts due to personality clashes. You organize a meeting, acting as a mediator.
- Force a solution: when no other option works, remind that the main interest you have to safeguard is that of the project. Use your authority to solve the situation.
- Ignore the conflict: some conflicts have a very little impact on the project. In this case you can choose to ignore them, at least until they remain so limited.
Module 4: Leadership
DU 4.1 Leadership:
Management and leadership are complementary.
An effective manager should also implement an appropriate leadership style to keep the team motivated.
“The manager’s job is to plan, organize and coordinate. The leader’s job is to inspire and motivate” (The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business).
Different theories have been developed to identify leadership styles and patterns. One of the most acclaimed is that of “Situational leadership” developed in 1972 by Hersey and Blanchard; the authors suggest that leaders should match their leadership style to the different features of team members.
There are many different list of “Leadership skills” or “Leadership tips”.
Here a selection of suggestions to enhance your leadership:
- Lead yourself first; set an example for the other members of the project team
- Communicate openly and effectively: hold regular meetings with team members, both in group and individually
- Listen to people
- Respect the different personalities within the team
- Provide regular feedbacks to team members: are they doing right or wrong?
- Don’t be afraid of delegating
- Learn from mistakes
- Harold Kerzner (2003), Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling (8th Ed. e.d.). Wiley, ISBN 0-471-22577-0.
Body of Knowledge 5th edition, Association for Project Management, 2006, ISBN 1-903494-13-3.
Russell D. Archibald (2003), Managing High-Technology Programs and Projects (3rd edition), Wiley, ISBN: 978-0-471-26557-3.
Bjarne Kousholt (2007), Project Management – Theory and practice. Nyt Teknisk Fortag. ISBN 87-571-2603-8.
Sebastian Nokes (2007), The Definitive Guide to Project Management, 2nd Ed.n., London (Financial Times / Prentice Hall), ISBN 978-0-273-71097-4.
Martin Stevens (2002), Project Management Pathways. Association for Project Management. APM Publishing Limited, 2002, ISBN 1-903494-01-X.
Paul C. Dinsmore et al (2005), The right projects done right!, John Wiley and Sons, 2005, ISBN 0-7879.7113-8.
Lewis R. Ireland (2006), Project Management, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006, ISBN 0-07-147160-X.
Dennis Lock (2007), Project Management (9th edition), Gower Publishing Ltd., 2007, ISBN 0-566-08772-3.
Morgen Witzel (2003), Fifty key figures in management. Routledge, 2003. ISBN 0-415-36977-0 Joseph Phillips (2003), PMP Project Management Professional Study Guide, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2003. ISBN 0-07-223062-2