2. MANAGING A SYSTEM PROJECT

You must first complete 1. PHASES OF SYSTEM PROJECT MANAGEMENT before viewing this Lesson

2.1 COMPONENTS:
Team: A project team is comprised of a group of people who will realize the project result. The group is often comprised of people who have various backgrounds, each of whom contributes knowledge and skills.
Goal: A product result (or goal) is desired. After a project has been completed, something has been realized.
Limited resources: The amount of time and money that is available for completing a project is always limited. No project is completely free of time pressure.

2.1.1 UNCERTAINTY (RISK)
• One characteristic feature of projects is that their success is never guaranteed beforehand. Even if the desired goal is already being reached, it is uncertain whether it will be achieved within the available budget or within the proposed time. It is not unusual for a project to take three times as long and to cost twice as much as originally estimated.

2.1.2 TIME
• Time in project plans.
• Determine which activities should take place in which phase.
• Estimate how long each activity will take
• Determine the order in which activities should be completed.
• Allocate people and materials.
• Allocate activities over time.
• Determine the (most important) deadlines.
• Time in progress monitoring.
• Monitor progress.
• Monitor deadlines.
• Adjust schedules.

2.1.3 MONEY
• Money in system project plans:
• Determine the fees of the team members.
• Estimate the hours for the team members.
• Assign budgets to team members for specific tasks.
• Determine costs for material and tools.
• Money in progress monitoring:
• Monitor cash flow.
• Negotiate with suppliers.
• Determine whether the original cost estimates are still accurate.
• Adjust budgets.
• Negotiate with customer and/or client concerning budget adjustments.

2.1.4 QUALITY
• Quality in system project plans:
• Establish the desired quality of the project result and the intermediate products (this takes place primarily in the definition phase).
• Establish the desired quality of the carrying out of the various activities in the project.
• Quality in progress monitoring:
• Test the (intermediate) results.
• Address any quality problems.

2.1.5 ORGANIZATION
• Organization in project plans:
• Assemble the team.
• Assign authority.
• Assign tasks to team members.
• Make agreements concerning the availability of people with other (project) managers and higher management.
• Organization in progress monitoring:
• Direct the team.
• Monitor human aspects (soft skills).
• Mediate between the parties who are involved in the project.

2.2 COMMUNICATION, COORDINATION, TEAMWORK
Projects succeed only if your team is strong, and project teams are strong only if they have effective communication strategies.
Project teams are in a constant state of communication via email, videoconferences, telephone calls, texts, face-to-face discussions and even nonverbal interactions. Whatever media they use, project teams will increase their chances of achieving their goals if they develop successful strategies for keeping everyone informed about what’s going on.

2.2.1 EFFECTIVE TIPS FOR COMMUNICATION, COORDINATION AND TEAMWORK DURING THE COURSE OF A PROJECT
1. Meet regularly
Hold regular strategy meetings for the entire team. This gives everyone an opportunity to be present while project activities and changes are being discussed and creates a level playing field by giving all team members a chance to voice ideas concerns and share status updates. To reduce wasted time, try to limit meetings to 50 minutes; that gives everyone a few minutes for administrative work or downtime — or simply a chance to get to the next meeting.
To ensure that meetings stay on schedule, do the following:
• Assign a timekeeper.
• Draft an agenda and send it to all team members prior to the meeting.
• Ask team members to be prepared to discuss the agenda items
• Unless urgent, table any non-agenda issues raised, with the understanding that they will be up for discussion later.
• Schedule the next meeting in advance, and keep a record of discussion items to be carried forward.

2. Be inclusive
Make sure you don’t leave anyone out when you invite people to meetings or send out reports about recent developments. If you’re not sure whether certain people need to be involved in a meeting or kept in the loop about the latest project activities or updates, err on the side of caution and include them. It’s always better to gain more input from more people than limited input from just a few team members who are regarded as key players.

At the project kick-off meeting, ask the team members about their communication preferences. One option is to use project software that includes a portal that can serve as a central hub of communication. Compared with relying on email and an assortment of other communication tools, a central portal decreases the likelihood that people will be excluded from conversations that are important to them.

3. Be transparent, clear and concise
Communication can be time-consuming in any form. You can avoid wasting other people’s time (and your own) by being transparent, clear and concise. Prior to picking up the telephone, typing an email or scheduling a meeting, take a moment or two to consider the following:
• The purpose of the communication.
• The audience. (Are they team members, executives, vendors, clients or other stakeholders?)
• The desired outcome.
• Whether you will need to refer back to the conversation later or provide details of it to others.
• Whether, in light of the factors above, you’re using the best medium for the type of communication you have in mind.
• Try to get your message(s) across in ways that are easy to understand and accessible to everyone concerned.

4. Show some respect
People are put on project teams for a reason. Whatever their roles, all members serve an intended purpose and bring intrinsic value to the project. Regardless of title and position in the organizational hierarchy, all participants should be expected to show respect for their fellow team members and should be held accountable for their behavior.

It’s natural that the opinions and thoughts of higher-level project participants may be given more weight than those of junior team members. But that’s a mistake. Even if they disagree with people who outrank them, all team members should be able to freely communicate their thoughts, opinions and concerns without fear of ridicule or consequence. Great ideas are great ideas, regardless of who they come from.
Similarly, when scheduling project activities, every team member’s competing responsibilities and time pressures should be taken into consideration. Teams cannot remain strong if they have weak links in the chain of mutual respect.

5. Recognize that being right may be wrong
On the surface, getting everyone to see that you’re right might seem like a big win. But such a “victory” can have far-reaching consequences if it affects the attitude or morale of other team members. Project teams are just that — teams — and therefore there’s little room for any member, regardless of position, to put a lot of energy into proving that he or she is usually right. Your need to be right can end up alienating others to the extent that they stop communicating altogether. Such a breakdown in communication causes the team to function at a less-thanoptimal level.

No project can be successful with a team of one. Egos need to be checked at the door when team members are communicating with one another.

6. Use online collaboration tools
Collaboration tools help streamline project management and facilitate the process of collaborating with team members and other stakeholders.
“If you’re looking for a free and easy way to communicate and collaborate with team members — in the same office or across the globe — consider giving cloud-based project management tools a try,” says Patti Rowlson, founder and marketing director at PR Consulting Inc. “Online project management tools are great for keeping everyone informed and up to date on a variety of project types. . . from keeping a sales pipeline moving to organizing volunteer efforts.”

Of course, collaboration software alone won’t guarantee that your team will communicate openly and efficiently.

Whatever medium you use, communication will only be as good as the communication strategies you adopt.

2.2.2. LEADERSHIP RELATED TO SYSTEM PROJECT MANAGEMENT
• Although there is an expectation for project managers to be leaders, project management and leadership are two different things. Being a successful project manager, delivering successful projects consistently, does not mean that one is a successful leader. Successful project managers develop project management skills through knowledge of the standard project management framework and through experience in utilizing best practices in implementing project management methodologies. Successful leaders are innovative and creative individuals who continuously develop new skills to integrate with their current capabilities. Effective leaders integrate leadership skills with project management skills, developing new leadership skills to complement their project management skills.

• Charles M. Cadwell (2004) summarized the difference between leaders and managers in the following chart. Cadwell says that “management skills provide a foundation for developing leadership skills. Effective leaders have the ability to apply the appropriate skill at the appropriate time and in the appropriate place” (p.).

• Leaders Innovate; Managers Administer
Managers usually focus on implementing and following processes, attending to the daily routine of activities, ensuring that the team can be productive with the tools they need to perform their tasks.
Leaders are innovators who are always looking to improve ways of doing things and challenging the processes in order to improve the team’s productivity level.

• Leaders Seek Challenges; Managers Seek to Maintain the Status Quo
Managers are skilled in following processes. Hence, they tend to accept the status quo and continue to do things the way they have been done. They tend to resist deviations from the current process, and therefore, resist new ways of doing things.
Leaders tend to look for challenges. Challenges lead to new ideas and improvements in the current processes.

• Leaders Think Long Term; Managers Think Short–to Mid-Term
Leaders create a vision—the future state of the organization when its strategic goals are achieved. Leaders think long term in achieving the vision. Project managers are focused on achieving the short-term and mid-term deliverables to accomplish the project goals, as part of achieving the long-term strategic goals.
This makes both effective leadership and project management essential in achieving short-term and long-term strategic goals for any organization.

• Leaders Motivate and Inspire; Managers Control
Leaders motivate and inspire their people simply in the way they work with them: in setting goals, making meaningful contributions, recognizing their efforts, always encouraging the team to deliver the best work that they can. Managers, in their focus on implementing processes, control their people and the working environment, including their work assignments, schedules, deliverables, etc.
Successful project managers continuously develop leadership skills in motivating and inspiring teams. They practice effective human resource management processes for team development.

• Leaders Worry about Doing the Right Things; Managers Worry about Doing Things Right
Leaders are focused on accomplishing the vision for the organization. Implementing the organizational strategy through projects and programs depends on the organizational leaders making the right decisions on what things, what initiatives, should be implemented. Once the decisions (on what initiatives to start) have been made, managers take care of project/program delivery, ensuring that things are done right (utilizing project management to implement the project).

• Leaders Have a Wide Circle of Influence; Managers Have Limited Influence
Effective leaders impact the entire organization and also people outside the organization. Their influence extends beyond the boundaries of the organization.
Project managers’ impact dominates their own projects, but they have little influence outside of their project stakeholders.

2.2.3. THE COMMONALITY BETWEEN PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP
The biggest commonality between project management and leadership is what the followers bring.

Peter F. Drucker (1996) gave his definition of a leader, as one who has followers, i.e., having followers defines a leader. What else do followers bring? The success of a leader is determined by the performance of the followers.

In a project environment, the project manager’s followers are the project team. In a project environment, the success of a leader and the success of a project manager depend on the performance of the project team. The performance of a project manager and the effectiveness of a leader are both measured in terms of the performance of the team.

2.2.4 LEADERSHIP SKILLS FOR PROJECT MANAGERS
Project managers accomplish assigned project work through their project teams. They acquire the necessary technical, business, and leadership skills to help manage their project teams effectively. They apply effective leadership skills in motivating their teams in accomplishing project objectives and completing the project deliverables to achieve the project goals.

Essential leadership skills for project managers start with motivating and inspiring teams. Other leadership skills including negotiating, communicating, listening, influencing skills, and team building are also important, especially to the extent that they contribute towards improving team performance.

• Motivating and inspiring. Leaders develop a vision and then continually communicate that vision throughout the organization, working with the team to achieve the vision. Leaders keep their people enthusiastic in doing their work and focused on the project vision. They encourage the team members to do their best and accomplish the work with full self-satisfaction for the making their contribution towards the project vision.
• Team building. Leaders help the team members help each other, as they make their individual and group contributions toward achieving the project goals.
• Negotiating and communicating. Leaders get the team members and project stakeholders to work effectively with one another, considering all parties with shared or opposed interests, with intent to compromise before reaching a team decision. Leaders create a project environment where team members can be honest and open in communicating with each other, understanding each team member’s communication style, and able to communicate effectively with project stakeholders.
• Listening and influencing. Leaders are active listeners, understanding and considering the team members’ perspective before making team decisions that will affect the team. Leaders get project team members and other stakeholders to collaborate and cooperate with each other, working towards a common goal.

2.3 INFORMATION
• Information in system project plans:
• Which information must be provided to whom and in which form?
• Which information will be recorded, distributed and archived?
• Which information tools will be used?
Information in progress monitoring:
• Arrange for periodic consultation.
• Ensure that the right information is provided to the right person.
• Determine whether agreements have been met.

Lesson tags: managing, system project
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