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Simulation & Gaming:
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Tips for better project management


From  http://www.itteam.uk.com/gwsftpm.htm

Software Project Management Factsheet – Introduction
Effective software project management facilitates the smooth running of horizontally oriented work in organizations that are traditionally vertically oriented. Software Projects require the co-operation of line managers both across the departments involved and throughout the various levels of seniority.

In large scale projects, an almost entirely self-contained project team can be created, either by assigning line staff to the project on a full-time basis or by hiring in external resources. Often a combination of both is used but in either case, because the project staff are essentially full-time, the conflicts between line and project management are minimized.

In these situations the project team member has only one boss, the project manager. Even in these large self-contained projects, it is likely that there will be a requirement for some resources that are outside of the their control. The very fact that the project is used to operating in isolation, may accentuate any communication problems that then arise.

However, it is more typical for projects to use staff and other resources that remain under the control of a departmental or line manager. This type of project environment raises both the opportunities and potential hazards of integrating line and project management. The challenge is to create an environment that fosters cooperation and not one that breeds counter-productive competition.

Software Project Management Factsheet – Keeping Sight of the Goal
Project based working involves the efforts of a group of people dedicated to achieving a specific goal. A series of factors will contribute to the success of the project:

The appointment of project leaders at all levels who are committed to the project and respected by the team.

A shared belief in what the team is trying to achieve and a constant focus on the goals.

A willingness to negotiate with those outside of the team for the benefit of the project.

The single most important factor in determining the success of the team is constant referral to the question "What are we trying to achieve?" It is all too easy for project teams to lose sight of the overall aim of the project.


Software Project Management Factsheet – Effective Cooperation
Projects often require resources which are not under the direct control of the project manager. The project manager will therefore need to negotiate with the relevant line manager to borrow and control these resources as and when they are required.

The cooperation of line managers is essential for the success of the project and project management staff should work hard at developing a good working relationship with them. The staff assigned to the project will often be reporting to two bosses - their line manager and the project manager; it is important that their position is clear at all times.

Effective project management is characterized by the following:

Clear leadership and direction
Seamless integration of new members into the team
Ability to communicate clearly
Arbitration skills when problem solving
Ability to handle interpersonal conflicts
Capability to plan and secure commitments

Project management staff should have the proven ability to assimilate and prioritize individual demands to make effective decisions. Conflict is a common occurrence in a project environment and project management staff should be skilled in conflict resolution. They will be judged heavily on their personal experience and the credibility that they already possess within the organization.

Software Project Management Factsheet – Is it a Single Project?
Every project should be placed under the overall control of a single project manager. Large or complex projects may well be divided into a number of sub-projects and sub-project managers can then be used to control them.

The division of a project into sub-projects is the responsibility of the project owner, who should work closely with the overall project manager when determining this. Sub-projects are often defined in terms of discrete areas of work, which can be allocated to sub-project managers with relevant expertise. The use of sub-project managers enables a wide variety of management structures to be imposed on any given project.

This series of courses share a common theme of being based on project scenarios that justify division into sub-projects. However, projects are often smaller and more straightforward, making this sub-division unnecessary. Where this is the case, all responsibilities assigned to the sub-project manager should be undertaken by the project manager themselves, who may then decide to delegate some of these to task leaders.

It is important not to make the organization of your project more complicated than necessary. You should apply the organizational framework detailed in this course in as streamlined a way as your project allows.

Software Project Management Factsheet – The 3 Main Roles
There are three major project management roles: the project manager, sub-project manager and task leader. The appointment of any or all of these positions should be made entirely with reference to the needs of the project. In the smallest of projects both the roles and responsibilities of all three of these roles could be undertaken by a single project manager.

Even though all three roles could be combined within one individual the demands placed on this individual may still not justify a full-time position. At the other extreme some projects can be enormous in scope, complexity and duration. The building of the Channel Tunnel, as one of the largest civil engineering projects in history, involved scores of project management staff, covering all three of the roles outlined.

The Channel Tunnel results were by no means atypical of such large scale and complex projects. Despite the bringing together of the best engineers, designers and project management experts available the project did suffer from significant delays and a significant overspend.

The inescapable conclusion is that to maximize the opportunities for success, projects and their corresponding management structures, should be run by staff who have gained experience in projects of a similar size and nature.


Software Project Management Factsheet – The Matrix Management Approach
Matrix management is a descriptive term for the management environment where projects cut across organizational boundaries and involve staff who are required to report to their own line manager as well as to the project manager.

This is not a radical departure from traditional hierarchical management; in fact the traditional vertical management structure is still in place but is enhanced by temporary horizontal structures representing each project. To see an illustration of the type of reporting structures that arise, click on the graphic.

   project management training - matrix management example

The diagram illustrates the reporting structures that may result in an organization that is running multiple projects. An individual who is working in department B and who is assigned part-time to projects X and Y will find themselves reporting to three different managers all of whom will have some degree of authority over this member of staff.

Software Project Management Factsheet – The Need for Effective Communication
Matrix management relies on cooperation and communication between everyone involved. Whilst in a pure project environment, the decision-making authority rests with the project manager; in a matrix environment all major decisions will be reached by consensus.

A satisfactory working arrangement needs to be reached that bridges the inevitable differences in priority that will exist between project managers and line managers. Project managers will tend to view their own project as the focal point whereas departmental managers will tend to view things from a departmental perspective.

To function effectively matrix management environments should have the following characteristics:

There should be effective channels of communication between the managers involved. All of the relevant line managers should contribute to project planning and resourcing decisions should be reached by consensus.

There should be formal procedures in place for resolving any management conflicts that do arise.

Project staff should feel committed to the project as well as to their own department.

In an ideal world the project manager would have little more to do than plan the project, secure the agreement of the line managers to deliver their pieces of the jigsaw on time and within budget, and then sit back and let it all happen. The real world is usually very different.

Matrix management relies on cooperation and communication between project and line managers, as all major decisions are necessarily reached by consensus.

To function effectively, matrix management environments should incorporate effective channels of communication as well as formal procedures for resolving any management conflicts that arise.


Software Project Management Factsheet – Sources of Conflict
Regardless of how well planned a project may be, it will be subject to unforeseen demands and the direction of the project may need to change as it progresses. Conflict often arises from decisions that inconvenience people, but are nevertheless essential to the success of the project.

Unforeseen changes in priority may result in conflict both within the project environment and between the project and the external departments that will be most effected by a change in project emphasis.

If a project falls behind the plan then there is likely to be conflict between the project and external departments who will then be expected to extend their commitment of personnel to it.

Technical conflicts are common where a department is supporting the project in a technical capacity. The project manager may reject the solution preferred by the department on technical, cost or scheduling grounds.

The administrative procedures in use on the project may be unfamiliar to some of the external departments effected.

Personality conflicts often manifest themselves as one of the earlier types of conflict already highlighted. This often makes them difficult to identify and therefore they can be very difficult to resolve.

The project manager will often try to minimize each external departments billing to the project. Conversely, the departmental managers will often try to secure as much of the projects budget as possible.

Conflict is an inevitable consequence of project work, where there is constant pressure to achieve targets within strict time and resource constraints.

Software Project Management Factsheet – Staff Concerns
When introducing project working into an organization a variety of issues may cause concern to members of staff, especially those who are requested to work on the first projects that are implemented.

It is common for staff involved in project work to be concerned about the extent to which the efforts they expend on project related work will be recognized. This problem may be compounded if they feel their project related work will not be acknowledged and recognized within their own department.

Staff may feel that their personal rewards may be jeopardized by undertaking project related work. They may feel that however hard they work on the project it will not effect their chances of advancement or promotion within their department.

Staff may be concerned that the project itself may not be an outstanding success and that any perceived failure on its part will reflect badly on the individual staff involved with it.

Staff involved with projects may have long term worries about what happens to them at the end of the project. Perhaps their department will learn to cope without them; or even worse it may have developed new procedures whilst they were otherwise occupied.

Projects are all about utilizing existing resources and expertise in an efficient and effective way to get things done. The downside of this, from a staff perspective, may be that projects are not seen as training oriented environments in which to develop personal skills.

This concern is primarily an issue with staff seconded to projects on a full time basis. They may feel increasingly isolated and left behind in relation to their long time colleagues and the departmental practices with which they are familiar.

Many of these issues may be complicated further if staff are working on more than one project at a time. Personnel assigned to a project should be totally clear about the management structures, which affect them on a day-to-day basis.


Software Project Management Factsheet – Management Structure
Every project requires authorization and funding and the body responsible is usually called the project sponsor. In the context of critical projects in large organizations, this body is often the board of directors.

It is essential that a project is effectively 'owned' either by an individual or a body, that is the project manager. This entity is appointed by the project sponsor to authorize the necessary work and to have responsibility and accountability for the success of the project. In small projects the project owner and the project manager may be one and the same individual.

The project managers should be appointed, by the project owner, to assume day-to-day management of the project. There can be two levels of project manager depending on the size of the project - the overall project manager and one or more sub-project managers.

The project teams are made up of a mixture of representatives from the marketing or user departments and technical experts who are involved in the production of the overall deliverable or end product.

In organizations that are heavily project oriented, a project office may be set up, to serve as a central body of excellence - providing resources to the various projects that are initiated. Its main functions are to maintain the continuity of project development activities.

The types of management organization that are appropriate to projects of different sizes, and how the theoretical organizational structure of each individual project should be tempered by real world requirements.

Software Project Management Factsheet – Management Structure & Style
The management organization required will vary depending on the size and complexity of each particular project. On large projects a comprehensive framework may be required, whilst on smaller projects it may be desirable to combine roles within one individual.

The questions raised by the problem of establishing a sound project management structure revolve around the creation of effective reporting lines. There are two organizational extremes that can be adopted:

In the first scenario, all of the personnel working on the project remain in their normal situation, reporting to their line managers. In this case, the project management will need to coordinate the required project work through the line managers.

Alternatively, all personnel working on the project are drawn into a project team and report exclusively to the project manager. In practice a combination of these approaches is often found to be the best solution, and is by far the most common approach.

However, this organizational framework risks breaking one of the tenets of good management - that of matching responsibility with authority. The project manager will be responsible for performance on the project but may lack sufficient authority where contributors report to their own line managers.

This is one of many hurdles that the creation of a good project management environment must overcome.

Software Project Management Factsheet – Management Representation
It is advisable that every project involves representatives from three separate interested parties to deliver an end-product that genuinely satisfies the requirements. These interests being the technical, the marketing or user, and the business perspectives.

If the technical interest is ignored then a project may be attempting to produce an end-product that is not technically feasible. It is essential that the technical implications of a proposed project are fully understood.

The project should have input from either the marketing or user departments - depending upon whether the project deliverables are intended for the marketplace or for use within the organization.

If the business interest is ignored then, although the end-product may well satisfy the marketplace or users and be technically feasible, it may provide little or no commercial benefit to the organization.


Software Project Management Factsheet – Project Team Fundamentals
Team working has been an important organizational issue for many years, although the concept has historically described work within permanent functional teams such as sales, production and design. The rapid growth of project-based work has given rise to the creation of multi-disciplinary teams capable of accomplishing tasks which span the traditional internal boundaries present in many organizations.

Successful team working requires careful consideration and design. Generally, the more that an organization has tended towards a traditional hierarchical structure, the greater will be the challenge of implementing effective inter-departmental project teams.

Project teams can take on a variety of forms depending on the size of the project and the way in which it is staffed. Project environments range from dedicated and full-time project teams, through to instances where projects have little or no full time resources and operate by using only the resources from existing functional departments.

Organizations that are project oriented tend to maintain a full-time dedicated project resource, which is generically termed a project office. Project office staff will tend to specialize in areas such as: planning and the monitoring of time, cost and performance against the plans. These staff will usually report to a single boss, who may be either a project manager or a project office manager

Departmental staff will be recruited on the basis of the skills and expertise that they can bring to the project. However, the appropriate technical or business skills need to be complemented by an ability and willingness to function effectively in the project environment. They will report to the project manager but remain under the overall control of their own departmental, or line manager - they are therefore working in a matrix management environment.

The appointment of departmental staff to projects should be a decision made jointly by the relevant project and departmental, or line, managers. The involvement of line managers in the appointments is important as they have the necessary experience to highlight critical areas of the project from a technical viewpoint. Furthermore, by involving line managers in the early stages of project planning they are more likely to develop a positive attitude to the project.

Disagreements may result in the negotiations between the project and the line manager on both the level of staffing required by the project and possibly over the individuals to be assigned. However, only in situations where an impasse has been reached should senior management be asked to arbitrate.

Software Project Management Factsheet – Concerns of New Team Members
Anxiety among members of a new project team is almost inevitable. Personnel will be working with unfamiliar faces often in an environment that is still taking shape. This anxiety is typically focused on four key issues.

If the project manager, or their assistants are unfamiliar to the team members then the team members will naturally be concerned about the managers leadership style and how it will effect their everyday work.

If involvement with the project involves relocation, either within a building or further afield, then management should bear in mind that this often causes heightened anxiety and stress amongst project team members.

Team members may be concerned about the nature of the project and whether or not it will match their own level of expertise and professional interests. Furthermore they might have private worries about the technical viability of the project and how its failure may reflect on them.

The fair distribution of the workload may be an area of concern, as may the perceived level of proficiency and dedication of some of their new colleagues.

One of the great challenges of project management is to bring together an effective team and bring it up to speed quickly. Anxiety among team members is natural and this needs to be addressed as early as possible so that project staff can focus on the needs of the project rather than on their own anxieties.


Software Project Management Factsheet – Motivating Team Members
The project manager should arrange a one-to-one discussion with each team member in order to welcome them to the team and establish personal contact. This initial discussion should be both short and informal with the aim of reducing anxiety and fostering a feeling of 'ownership' of the project by the team member.

A useful strategy for nurturing project 'ownership' is to involve all team members in the planning and scheduling of the activities that they will be involved in. In smaller teams it may be realistic to involve all members in the planning process whilst in larger teams it may be necessary to restrict the involvement to team or section leaders.

Developing a climate of open and frank communication will lead to an increased sharing of ideas between team members. They are then more likely to collectively develop more effective decision making and project control processes.

Departmental staff may be motivated to join projects by a variety of factors. It is far better to encourage participation than to have to cajole or push staff into project work; as a positive attitude to the project will deliver numerous benefits in terms of staff motivation and performance.

Projects have the potential to be seen as dynamic working environments, providing an opportunity to work with personnel from other areas of the organization and enabling staff to 'spread their wings' and experience a greater range of working practices.

Often the people appointed to the role of project manager are held in high regard within the organization and may be viewed as rising stars. This can be a positive influence when recruiting personnel for the project - as people can be keen to be associated with talented managerial staff.

Whilst projects are not generally regarded as being the best environments in which to gain training there are circumstances where projects necessitate the training of personnel to carry out their intended role. This can be used as a positive motivator - as staff are often enthusiastic to develop their skills, especially if the training relates to an area perceived to be in future demand.

Software Project Management Factsheet – Is Theory Y Management
For projects to function effectively the project manager must devote time and energy to creating an atmosphere that is conducive to teamwork. For managers familiar with leadership theory, autocratic leadership - as depicted by the theory X style is unlikely to prove a successful approach for project management.

Project environments are likely to be significantly more successful under a democratic and consultative style, tending towards the theory Y approach. This style is more consistent with the fundamental principles of project management, where the key to success relies on effective lines of communication and the creation of a flexible and proactive working environment.

Building the project team is one of the prime responsibilities of the project manager. It requires the skills of a well rounded manager to identify, commit and integrate the various skills required from the traditional functional organization into an effective project environment.

All project teams rely for their success on the team members. A good team member will be reliable in meeting deadlines and honest when facing problems. They should also be able to follow leadership and direction and yet be sufficiently confident to make an active contribution and to take responsibility upon themselves.


Software Project Management Factsheet – Project Life Cycles
Projects are temporary structures set up with the specific aim of delivering an identifiable end-product. All projects will therefore have an identifiable life cycle, the characteristics of which will vary according to the size and complexity of the project.

    project management training - life cycle example

A five-phase project life cycle model is illustrated on this screen. This model can be applied to a variety of project scenarios although the cost and duration of each phase will vary according to the particular project.

The conceptual phase includes the preliminary evaluation of an idea. It is common for this phase to include a first cut feasibility study for the proposed project. This analysis should also include a preliminary risk assessment.

The definition phase is primarily a refinement of those areas considered in the conceptual phase. The resources required by the project should be defined along with time, cost and performance estimates. Project estimation is a notoriously difficult task - especially in this early phase. However it is essential that costs are quantified, as this information is needed to establish whether or not the project should proceed.

Once a project has received the funding and backing of senior management it can proceed to the production phase. This incorporates the production, or acquisition, of the end-product specified. This begins with the updating of detailed plans, started in the preceding phases and encompasses the identification and management of the resources required. This phase also includes the development of manuals, plans and other documentation that will support the end product in its live environment.

The operation phase involves the integration of the end-product or service into the organizational environment. If the end-product was a marketable product then this phase would typically include the product life cycle phases of marketing and refinement. The divestment phase involves the reallocation of resources that are no longer required by the current project. The end-product of any project will have a finite lifespan and therefore its ability to generate revenue will be limited. The organization will usually need to run future projects to guarantee its revenue stream.

It is therefore important to retain the services of staff and other resources that can be used in forthcoming projects. This phase also incorporates the post implementation evaluation of the delivered end-product, and this should serve as input to the conceptual phase of future projects.

A typical life cycle will run from the formal initiation of a project through to a post implementation review of the delivered end-product. This post implementation review is not shown as it is usually held some months after the project has been formally closed. There is often little agreement between industries, or even between organizations within the same industry, about the life cycle phases of a project. This is understandable because of the complicated nature and diversity of projects.

The use of resources over time will vary according to each particular project. Whilst it may be possible to characterize life cycle profiles within different industry sectors, this can give a false impression as individual projects can vary radically from the generic profile.

From  http://www.itteam.uk.com/gwsftpm.htm



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