Discussion Board Replies (Project management)

Select 1 of the topics below as the topic for your Discussion Board Forum.

Project, program, and portfolio management is used throughout the organization at different levels and for various purposes. Discuss how each level of management in project management structuring serves a vital role within the organization.

Define each stage in the project life cycle and why these areas exist. Which sections have a greater influence on schedule and cost control?

QUESTION #1

Discussion Board 1

Joshua Swanson

Most people have some sort of hierarchical chain of command or supervisory structure in their careers. Why is this? Depending on the size of the organization, there is typically a need for increasing levels of control and oversight. Not only that, but one person can only supervise so many people and so many tasks before they begin to lose control and visibility of their assignments. This is the concept of span of control (Holm-Petersen, Ostergaard, & Andersen, 2017). Is the management of projects any different? Does the size of an organization carrying out projects dictate necessary levels of control? The answers to these questions can be discovered by evaluating project management hierarchy. While there may be nuances in project management that are unique to the field, the overall concept is the same. This explains why there are tiers of project management and oversight (Wilson, 2014).

The first level of oversight and management is simply “project management.” This is the “boots on the ground” type of work where a project manager oversees a temporary endeavor that is focused on producing a product, service, or result for a specific customer or stakeholder (Project Management Institute, 2017). This level of oversight serves a vital role because without this type of management, the odds of a project succeeding are essentially zero! This level of control and management requires a focus on team leadership, deliverables, and resource management (Wilson, 2014). But what if there are multiple projects that are somewhat related to an overall business goal? Can one project manager handle more than one project? Depending on the size and importance, perhaps. More often than not though, another level of management is necessary.

It is absolutely critical that projects be aligned with the organization’s overall strategy. If they are not, the organization risks completing projects that bring very little value because they do not push an organization from its current state to the desired state based on its business goals (Maceta & Berssaneti, 2019). Therefore, the more projects an organization has, the more management of projects on multiple levels is needed. To ensure this, most organizations create programs. Programs consist of multiple projects that are all inter-related and focused on similar goals (Wilson, 2014). This type of management is vital because it centralizes the operational and strategic management of certain projects under one “roof.” Take for example, a company that has a new product development unit. Say there are 3 projects currently underway in this unit. It would be advisable for the company to have a program manager that manages the three project managers. This level of control and management should be focused on ensuring the deliverables meet the business’ needs, selecting the right projects, managing the project managers, and keeping a keen awareness of the organizational strategy (Wilson, 2014).

What if there are multiple programs within an organization though? This is actually quite frequent given how diverse companies are becoming based on their desire to be involved in diverse markets. How do business leaders keep track of the multiple programs they are responsible for that might be somewhat related while some might be completely unrelated? The most commonly accepted way of doing this is portfolio management. Portfolios group related programs and individual projects that are also related (Wilson, 2014). Again, this is a higher level of control that allows organizations to ensure that the right projects are being completed, the right resources are utilized as best as possible, and the organization’s strategy is actually being accomplished (Maceta & Berssaneti, 2019). Think of this type of management as the “30,000-foot view” of an organization’s project operations. Portfolio managers are focused on the overall business strategy and how their portfolios are accomplishing that high-level strategy.

These three tiers of project management are not new. In fact, official standards and guiding principles have been created. The Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge is perhaps the most recognized and accepted document that details the competencies of project management. However, it lacks in describing the concepts of program and portfolio management. The International Project Management Association created the Individual Competence Baseline (ICB4) that lists competencies that are necessary based on the level of management (i.e., Project, Program, Portfolio) (Vukomanovic, Young, & Huynink, 2016). For the reader of this discussion, are standards necessary to carrying out the levels of project management? Or do they create an unnecessary sense of rigidity for project managers? Can they be a lighthouse in a storm or the “pie in the sky?” Perhaps a biblical concept could shed light on these questions. Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, once wrote, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Eccl. 3:1, NIV). Perhaps there are times to abide by standards and times to think outside of the box?

References

Holm-Petersen, C., Ostergaard, S., & Andersen, P. (2017). Size does matter – span of control in hospitals. Journal of Health Organization and Management, 31(2), 192-206. https://www-emerald-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JHOM-04-2016-0073/full/html

Maceta, P., & Berssaneti, F. (2019). Comparison of project portfolio management practices in the public and private sectors in Brazil. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Ahead-of-print(Ahead-of-print), 1-18. https://www-emerald-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJMPB-09-2018-0176/full/html

Project Management Institute. (2017). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. Newtown Square, Pennsylvania: Project Management Institute.

Vukomanovic, M., Young, M., & Huynink, S. (2016). IPMA ICB 4.0 – A global standard for project, programme, and portfolio management competencies. International Journal of Project Management, 34(8), 1703-1705. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1016/j.ijproman.2016.09.011

Wilson, R. (2014). A comprehensive guide to project management schedule and cost control: Methods and models for managing the project life cycle. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

QUESTION #2

Discussion Board Forum 1

Kara N. Lingenfelter

Discussion: Define each stage in the project life cycle and why these areas exist.  Which sections have a greater influence on schedule and cost control?

Project Life Cycle

A project life cycle is an overhead picture of how a project flows through each of its steps from the beginning to end.  This cycle is typically made up of four different phases to include conceptual, planning, execution, and closure (Wilson, 2014).  Each phase of the project’s life cycle is important as it build into the next phase and allows for a seamless transition within the project.  Studies have outlined that certain character traits and abilities of project managers have the ability to guide a project through its life cycle more fluidly.  The most important traits identified are planning and communicating, as they support every phase of the project life cycle (Cha & Maytorena-Sanchez, 2019).

Conceptual

The conceptual phase, also known as the initiating phase of the project life cycle is typically viewed as being a generalization of a project and overviews the end goal of the project at hand.  Typically, when the conceptual phase is complete, a project charter is the outcome.  A project charter provides authorization to the project manager to allocate resources appropriately for the project at hand (Wilson, 2014).  While the conceptual phase is important, many projects skip this phase and go directly into the planning phase.  However, those who do skip this first phase are at risk for proper authority or concept of the completion of a project.

Planning

Planning within a project life cycle is important because this phase is when the moving parts of the project start being estimated and outlined.  All stakeholders involved are gathered to discuss costs, potential risks, and time frames.  The importance of the planning phase comes from the need of a project to have set deadlines and price points so that it may stay on track later on (Wilson, 2014).  Without a planning phase in a project’s life cycle, the cost and time of a project could not be estimated.  Information gathered during this phase allows project managers to analyze how much materials are needed to complete the project and the exact steps that are needed within the project (Jeong, Ji, Koo, Hong, & Park, 2015).  Without a planning phase, it is nearly impossible to meet to requirements or need of a consumer.  Imagine as an example, a person was to make a cake without knowing the specific costs of measurements of the ingredients.  The conceptual phase could give them a baseline of what ingredients are needed, but the planning phase allows them to budget and allocate time to making the cake.

Execution

Executing a project is just as it would seem.  This phase of the life cycle is when the initiation and completion of work to finish the project is done (Wilson, 2014).  The steps outlined within the planning stage are now put to use as the implementers are able to execute the steps according to the plan and successfully.  However, within the execution phase, there are many risks that a project face.  At any time, there could be a number of things to go wrong and skew the projects plan.  Due to the high rate of risk and mistakes during the execution phase, this is when projects see the highest rate of managerial turnovers and change requests (Parker & Skitmore, 2005).  As the project manager of a build, the planning phase should also include guidelines for these potential risks that will occur during the execution phase.

Closure

The final stage of the project life cycle is closure.  Once the project is completed, the consumer must accept and be satisfied with what has been delivered.  Once the closure phase as commenced, lessons learned may also be documented for future endeavors similar to the project at hand (Wilson, 2014).

Conclusion

As seen throughout the life cycle, the two major phases that can cause the most disruption to a project is the planning and execution stage.  To eliminate disruptions or changes to a project, one can look toward the guidance of the Lord.  Ecclesiastes 10:8 (New International Version) says, “Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake.”  This verse shows that without risk there can be no reward, however there must be a plan and an acceptance to risk.  Because within the project life cycle there are several risks that can be taken, at what point do project managers accept the risks?  Are there risks too big to take?  As a project manager being introduced to a project, how does one know what risks may be involved or how comfortable they are with them?  All of these questions are important to discuss prior to the acceptance of a project, but as reminded in Philippians 4:6, God is with us through the tough times.

References

Cha, J. & Maytorena-Sanchez, E. (2019). Prioritising project management competences across the software project life cycle. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business. Retrieved from https://www-emerald-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJMPB-11-2017-0145/full/html

Jeong, K., Ji, C., Koo, C., Hong, T., & Park, H. S. (2015). A model for predicting the environmental impacts of educational facilities in the project planning phase. Journal of Cleaner Production. Retrieved from https://www-sciencedirect-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/science/article/pii/S0959652614000407?via%3Dihub

Parker, S. K. & Skitmore, M. (2005). Project management turnover: Causes and effects on project performance. International Journal of Project Management. Retrieved from https://www-sciencedirect-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/science/article/pii/S0263786304001012?via%3Dihub

Wilson, R. (2014). A comprehensive guide to project management schedule and cost control: methods and models for managing the project lifecycle. Pearson.

 
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