Project Management: Real World
Real life project management processes, just like processes, are comprised of various sequential steps like initiation, planning, implementation, monitoring and closure. Keep in mind that any project is finite in nature, which means it has specific initiation and finishing deadlines.
The key factor, therefore, is to successfully complete the project without any time or cost overruns. Managing projects is indeed a challenge that calls for conceiving a definite strategy and creating a workable methodology apart from problem-solving, communication, and team-building skills. These parameters divide a project into different phases.
Whether planning a family wedding, anticipating the delivery of a new child, or going on a holiday, real life project management is involved to ensure the outcome follows the plan. Wikipedia aptly defines the project management process as “the discipline of planning, organizing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. Project management process relies on two activities: planning first, and then doing."1
Study these four PM process examples, which can acquaint you with the phases of project management and why it is necessary to execute a project in a particular manner.
Problem Solving Skills Project
Red Cliffs East Primary School and Red Cliffs Secondary College developed an innovative approach to problem solving with a real life project that utilized the help of a local winery. Teachers saw first hand how the winery operated and identified problem areas that existed. The winery manager explained the processes involved in wine production that could be used as part of the problem solving activities. The student visits were then organized to focus on different areas and classroom work was conducted during both before and after the visits. The visits engaged the interest of students and motivated them to engage in discussions. During the course of the real life project, students were exposed to many different tasks that required a number of different problem solving strategies.
Project Relocation by Power Rangers
Fermilab LInC believes in asking high school students to do real life projects. One of the real life projects they undertook was to investigate the "ethnic/cultural diversity of a particular community." The hometown of the Power Rangers, organizers of the popular TV show was destroyed due to certain acts of vandalism. The Rangers posted a plea for help via the Internet for relocating to a new home base that is ethnically and culturally diverse. In order to convince the Rangers to adopt Montgomery County as their new home base, second-grade students found out specific facts about different ethnic and cultural groups in the community, and presented them in a persuasive manner to the Rangers.
MWC Communication Project
The Miami Workers Center (MWC) is known for its effective community organizing work in the USA. Its basic function is to fight for the rights of low-income minority communities in a hostile environment. When the MWC was awarded the Tides Foundation Bridging the Economic Divide Grant, they decided to build an efficient communications network. MWC already had a good strategic communications facility and trained staff to operate the system. The project was not to build communications capacity from scratch but to help optimize an already successful program.
As a first step SPIN, who was entrusted with the project management process, assessed the existing facilities and studied how MWC had been represented in the media. SPIN identified that MWC's greatest area of potential improvement was the need to create a central message system. After the real life project was completed, Sushma Sheth, MWC Communications Director said “The SPIN Project’s hands-on approach sharpened our communications program, taking it to a new level." Problem solving is a skill that one often requires to overcome difficult situations in daily life.
Capacity Building Project
Gerhard Wullink is doing research on intelligent capacity planning particularly in project environments beset with several indeterminate factors. He is presently testing his method in a case study of complex repair projects in a shipyard. The ship repair business which, in the Netherlands, as elsewhere is erratic. At times there is heavy workload and at times employees have no work.The crying need for the project management process was capacity planning. There were far too many uncertainties making planning difficult. He says “I have to consider criteria like average cost of using non-regular capacity, variance of these costs over different scenarios of resources utilization. My job is to devise algorithms that fit these requirements as far as possible."2
One cannot truly learn real life project management in a university or by reading text books or by surfing the Internet. This knowledge has to be acquired by being part of real-life events and intimately observing human behavioral patterns.
- Image: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/931543 under royalty free license
- Power Rangers project example, "Montgomery County to the Rescue," Fermilab Llnc Project examples, http://ed.fnal.gov/lincon/el_proj_examples.shtml
- 2 – Undisclosed, "Intelligent Planning in Real Life Project Environments (Interview,)" http://www.ctit.utwente.nl/research/sro/old/eproductivity/interviews/gerhard_wullink.doc/
- Smiley, Erica, "Case Studies: Miami Workers Center," The Spin Project, http://www.spinproject.org/article.php?id=79
- 1 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management