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- Elapsed time is used to describe the time taken by an individual or a group of people to complete any given task. For example, if a task can be completed in 20 days by one person, then the task is considered to be completed in 20 elapsed days. But if the same task is completed in 10 days by two people, then it is said to be completed in 10 elapsed days. Effort is a term used to describe the amount of work or the units of work required to complete any given task. For example, if a task is completed in 9 days with the time frame being utilized each day is 6 hours, then the effort used to complete the task is considered to be 54 hours (Monnappa, 2020). The difference between the two terms is important to understand in project planning purposes because for a project manager it can be tough to understand and predict the effort required to complete a task but proper steps can be utilized to influence the elapsed time with the assistance of proper resources.
- In any project, resource availability plays an important role in the management of the project. Under normal circumstances, resource availability and workforce management are subjected to factors such as employee leaves and other training commitments but other factors which also influence them include unplanned employee sickness, etc. On an average each worker is expected to work for 4 days a week. Accordingly, calculations are made comprising of an overall availability of 85% considering time utilized in meetings, training, appraisals, etc.
- There are various human factors affecting estimating. The first and the main one being the alteration of estimates to provide a good competition to other organizations in the market. Companies often present estimates depending on the profit margin, market values, etc. Companies aim at designing the lowest estimations so as to make a competitive bid. The other reason being, the resistance faced by the estimators from the sales person. The sales team often tries to negotiate the estimated values presented by the estimation team until they can fix upon a final estimate.
- Some of the strategies which can be used to overcome human influenced estimation are:
- The most effective strategy can be making use of realistic and well researched data while forming estimations so as to reduce chances of negotiation and form a strong and reasonable justification for the estimation.
- More people should be consulted while forming the estimation so as to screen it for any errors and flaws.
- Various methods should be employed in the formation of estimations. According to Kwon & Kang (2018), both identified and non-identified risks should be analysed while forming the estimation.
Quality plays a key role in management process of any task. It can either be a part of the project plan or it can be documented separately with extra emphasis on each part of the project plan. Three methods which can be used to monitor quality are:
- Using team leader review: In this case, organizational leaders are responsible for conducting timely checks so as to understand whether the task being carried out is as per the required standards or not. Such quality management techniques are however not suitable for a range of tasks, as there might be chances that the project leader is not capable enough to identify each and every flaw in the process being carried out.
- Self-checking technique: These methods uplifts the methodology of total quality management and depends on the author of the work being carried out having in depth knowledge of the processes taking place and possesses good understanding and skill set required to implement the requirement of the project.
- Fagan Inspections: According to Ma, Chong & Liao (2019), the Fagan Nomogram serves as an effective tool to quantify causal relationships and the probability of risk to form a graphical approach for real time safety inspections. In such cases, the person assigned a particular task reports to the project manager which is followed by a six-step review process including steps such as planning, overview, preparation, meeting, rework and follow-up.
According to Zolfaghari, Aliahmadi & Mazdeh (2017), strategic project management is considered as an important success factor determining the effectiveness of a project. Strategy development can be carried out over a number of phases including analyzing the past data relating to views and other factual data, formation of a direction of plan depending on the analysis of the earlier analyses data, forming action plans and strategies in the field of direction, implementing the action plans formed and understanding the outcomes of these plans and finally, altering the plans to add effectiveness and efficiency.
- Investigating the past data and views in context to a project or a task undertakes the various parameters affecting the time period and completion of it. Understanding the internal and external factors is one of the main parts of this step. There are various tools which can be used to study the internal and external parameters. PESTLE analysis is used to outline the political, economic, social, technological, legislative and environmental factors affecting a task. SWOT analysis helps in understanding the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the organization and BCG matrix helps as visual aid in analyzing the different products and services offered by the organization.
- Planning the direction aims at predicting the future of the project and the business. Organizational mission and organizational objectives form the basis of this step. Mission and objective realization help in focusing on the expected performance of the business parallel to the ethical processes used by it to achieve its goals.
- Setting up of action plans in the pre-determined direction holds together the processes and plans which form the means of moving in that direction. It includes the approaches and its alternatives utilized to complete a task.
- Implementing action plans includes the on-field implementation of plans and their real-time monitoring.
- Reporting is a fundamental of project management as it can serve as a source of motivation for the project leaders and project members as it can help them visualize their contribution to the project and the positive feedback for their contribution received from others. A study carried out by Taniguchi & Onosato (2017) showed that continuous reporting can help in improvement of the quality of project management information systems and can act as an essential tool in assisting leaders and management teams in making better decisions, planning, organizing and controlling tasks.
The establishment of reporting requirements should take place at the start of any project which is often followed by signing the agreement of a contract or when the project plan is being setup. This helps the project manager such that they can include the effort for report preparation in the plans. Regular reporting procedures should also take place after the completion of every major task or stage in the process.
- Three reports which should be documented by project managers or the project team include:
- Customer reports: Customer reports are used to document the stages of the project along with the milestones achieved with their respective achievement dates. They also let users know of the problems encountered, change requests, and tentative end dates for tasks and the project.
- IT and Business Management Report: These reports hold some of the problems encountered while carrying out the project and tentative dates of the project. It provides a transparent view of the project to the organizational leaders and senior management teams.
- Quality Assurance Reports: These reports act a guide to ensure that quality standards are met at each stage along with detailed procedures to carry out quality assurance procedures.
- A business case should be established at the beginning of any project. Since a business case holds key information related to a project such as the timeline of the project budget, etc, it acts as a justification to the project as to what is to be done and why. According to Nguyen, Killen, Kock & Gemunden (2018), a business case plays an important role in justifying a project and supporting strategic decision formation at the portfolio level. The early formation of a business case helps in analyzing the major requirements of the project and the resources required. It also helps in cross checking the progress of a project alongside the important parameters of the project such as the costs are within the allotted budget and that timelines are being followed for each task.
- The role of a project manager in documentation of a business case depends on the organization involved in it. Some organizations tend to involve project managers at an early stage in the project lifecycle so as to act an extra source of input even if the business case does not entirely depend on the project manager. In some cases, the project manager is appointed after the business case has been documented and the project has been approved by the designated authorities. However, in either cases, a business case is one of the most important documents for a project manager, as it helps a project manager in following the project details, budgets, timelines and expected results and make sure that the project objectives are fulfilled.
Leaders form the foundation for any organization and act as a watch guards over each and every process being carried out. According to Karia & Asari (2019), the emergence of leadership attributes has had a significant positive effect on factors such as organizational commitment, job satisfaction and career satisfaction. The four attributed which are admired by people in leaders are:
- The ability to tell. This ability has been admired amongst people as leaders help in breaking down complex steps and allot these tasks, essentially tell everyone what has to be done and how that task to be performed.
- The ability to sell is also an admired attribute of a leader. Leaders possess the capability of persuading people into doing particular task or to carry out a certain action. This quality of adopting techniques to present ideas or commands to the people so that they can accept it willingly is an admired trait of a leader.
- The ability to receive feedback irrespective of it being negative or positive and incorporating it to facilitate betterment of any task has been an admired trait over different professions. It is a leader’s duty to form ideas depending on the data collected and then present these ideas before other people and people at higher posts than the leader and then make use of the feedback to alter the ideas into new and effective ideas.
- A leader also plays an important role in practicing team spirit. Leaders hold the responsibility of bringing together a group of different people and form collective decisions. The leader then presents ideas by joining their ideas and perspectives hence, acting as a voice to the group.
Every project undertaken has to include changes brought to it over different factors. Changes form an integral part of a project and as a project manager, the ability to handle such changes effectively form the basis for success. According to Verenych & Achkasov (2017), under any circumstances a project manager should be able change the tasks or objectives undertaken for the project so as to develop possible chances of taking into account the changes and consolidate new approaches for future purposes. The main reasons due to which a business would consider making changes to their plans or goals are:
- The first reason due to which a business would invest in bringing changes is its failure to manage expectations. Often companies and organizations fail to cater to the customer’s demands forcing them to continuously find new ways and methods so as to produce something close to what the customer needed.
- While a project is underway, customers tend to suggest changes to their project as they are familiarized with new and innovative ways to complete their project or add extra features to their project. Also, businesses also tend to present new ideas to their customers as add-ons to their project requirements.
- Internal forces also act as a major source of change. In cases where the customer has changes in priorities, this can bring along some business pressures and give a rise to internal politics.
- External forces include the competition faced by a business due to other ventures in the market and other factors which are not controllable by the organization. These factors also act as a source of changes in a project.
Customers tend to hold different expectations for project managers depending on the various factors. These factors can either be grouped under rational notions or irrational notions. Expectations for the base of a business deal and hold the perceptions which a customer or a business might have for each other. According to Tolley & Hoch (2016), there are various procedures which are carried out to manage the expectations of all stakeholders related to a project. These include meetings at regular intervals, reporting the progress and other relevant data to organizational leaders and reviewing the task.
Expectation management forms an important part of a project manager’s role because the inability to do so leads to some of the most fundamental problems related to the development of a project. The inability to manage the expectations of a customer can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts between the parties. Short and long term expectations control the formation of business or a contract and long term expectations carry along until the task has been completed. Since they form an integral part of any project, managing expectations is one of the key tasks handled as a project manager.
Jordan, T., Tolley, P. & Hoch, D. (2016). Industry Supported Projects-Managing Differing Expectations In Proceedings of the 2016 Capstone Design Conference.
Karia, N. & Asaari, M. H. A. H. (2019). Leadership attributes and their impact on work-related attitudes In International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management.
Kwon, H. & Kang, C. W. (2019). Improving project budget estimation accuracy and precision by analysing reserves for both identified and unidentified risks In Project Management Journal. 50(1). pp 86-100.
Monnappa, A. (2020). Effort Vs. Duration Vs. Elapsed Time: Project Management Series. Retrieved from: https://www.simplilearn.com/effort-vs-duration-vs-elapsed-time-in-project-management-article
Nguyen, N. M., Killen, C. P., Kock, A. & Gemünden, H. G. (2018). The use of effectuation in projects: The influence of business case control, portfolio monitoring intensity and project innovativeness In International Journal of Project Management. 36(8). pp 1054-1067.
Taniguchi, A., & Onosato, M. (2018). Effect of continuous improvement on the reporting quality of project management information system for project management success In International Journal of Information Technology and Computer Science (IJITCS). 10(1). pp 1-15.
Verenych, O., Bushuieva, V. & Achkasov, I. (2017). Change form for changing characteristics: A project manager competence for managing change In 2017 12th International Scientific and Technical Conference on Computer Sciences and Information Technologies (CSIT). 2. pp 192-196. DoI: 10.1109/STC-CSIT.2017.8099447
Zolfaghari, S., Aliahmadi, A., & Mazdeh, M. M. (2017). From strategy to project effectiveness: introducing the three stages of strategic project management In International Journal of Business Excellence. 12(3). pp 308-328. DoI: https://doi.org/10.1504/IJBEX.2017.084441