Digital Operations and Project Management


Digital Operations and Project Management

9615, Industry Based Project 2:

Digital Operations and Project Management

Length 2,500 words (+/- 10%).

BRIEF

You are required to select one of two options presented below to complete your academic analysis, Whilst the analysis will require you to apply insights from all nine chapters, some options will require specific focus on named chapters

During the course of your MBA studies as a group you will be undertaking industry projects with one of Dilcere’s industry partners. In order for your group to be successful and meet the outcomes set out in the Request for Service, it is important that you understand some of the practical challenges you and your group may potentially face in undertaking the project, and some of the techniques used to solve these challenges.

ASSIGNMENT INFORMATION

Option 1: Project Management Process Groups
Reflect on the Project Management Process Groups (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & control and
closing) and discuss some of the potential challenges you may face from these groups. Also, suggest some mitigating strategies to overcome these challenges.

Option 2: Project Management Knowledge Areas
In the context of your project, reflect on the Project Management Knowledge Areas (time, cost, quality, risk, people and procurement) and discuss how your understanding of these areas has contributed to the success of your project.

In your response, also discuss if some areas are more important than others in the context of your project.Order Now from Course ResearchersOption 1: Project Management Process Groups

Project Management Process Groups

What is project management (PM)? Project Management Institute [PMI] (2013) defines projects as sequences of complex and related activities with one purpose or goal. Projects must be accomplished within a particular period and as per the specifications. The realisation of project activities needs proper planning and careful implementation. To this extent, we can define PM as the process of applying different techniques, tools, skills, and knowledge in the project environment. In recent years, PM has proliferated to reach new sophistication heights. It has emerged as a unique area that requires managers to tackle the challenges of new economic environments, rapid technological advancements, quality concerns, and globalisation.  Projects have some common characteristics: they involve uncertainty and risk, have definite objectives or goals to meet, are unique, have particular time frames for completion with definite start and finish times, and require interdisciplinary approaches and cross-functional teams to accomplish. PM is not a continuous process. It ends when the project is closed. The main process groups in PM include initiation, planning, control and monitoring, execution, and closure.

Initiation

The critical stage involved in PM is developing a vision and an objective for what is to be achieved in the project duration and when it is to be accomplished. Without appropriate planning, being conducted, and without a proper foundation being laid, constructing anything may be almost impossible (Zwikael & Smyrk, 2019). The initiation process groups create a strong foundation on which the remaining four phases are built. The group includes all the procedures followed in initiating the project. Ideally, initiation is the process of setting the project direction; avoiding or skipping this stage could lead to adverse consequences. The minute details should be studied carefully, and the slightest deviations may lead to a complete failure of the project to meet the intended goals. We should not move to the next phase unless we have a clear view of the project objectives and the strategies to implement in achieving them.

The initiation phase entails various procedures such as organising teams, seeking approvals and availing the work orders. Managers should identify the uncertainties and risks, specify the project scope and objectives, mobilise resources, dependencies required, and set the project timelines and deliverables (Hill Jr & Nelson, 2019). The essential document managers should avail at this stage is the project charter. The critical elements of the charter include dependencies, issues and risks, cost estimate, timeline and milestone plan, resources needed, deliverables and scope, and business case. The charter answers the question: what are the project teams trying to do?

Challenges in the Initiation Phase and the Possible Solutions

Whether you are leading a team or overseeing significant projects and their initiation process, you should ensure everything is in line to enhance project success. According to Hill Jr & Nelson (2019), 37 per cent of projects fail at the initiation stage due to the lack of clearly defined milestones and goals to measure progress. The statistic suggests that most managers lack discipline when implementing projects. Other factors that cause project failures include insufficient funding, employee resistance, and inadequate communication as shown in Diagram 1. The most common challenges managers phase at the initiation phase include lack of business strategy to follow, lack of qualified human resources, and inadequate stakeholder support.

Figure 1. Causes of Strategic Project Failure

Lack of Business Strategy: The deliverables of benefits of a project should comply with the strategic objectives of the firm. If the project teams fail to use the firm’s strategic goals as a starting point for making the project proposal, then it may be impossible for them to gain the relevant investments, assess the cost-effectiveness and feasibility, and set realistic and attainable expectations (Tereso, Ribeiro, Fernandes, Loureiro, & Ferreira, 2019). Project managers must ensure there is a need or some problems the firm intends to address to tackle this challenge. Specifically, they can perform an environmental evaluation using some models such SWOT and PERT to determine the external, general, and internal factors that either negatively, naturally, or positively affect the firm’s operational environment. Additionally, they can conduct factor analyses to identify what factors cause trouble to their firms and then transform the factors into problems for the project to address. The problem should be linked to the business’ strategic context.

Lack of Qualified Staff: It may be challenging to select and assign the right employees with the relevant skills and knowledge to the right project duties or roles. Most of the challenges during project initiation are associated with the selection of the project human resource required to help in the process (Alami, 2016). Project managers should develop clear descriptions of all jobs in their projects, a list of knowledge and skill requirements to use in matching the best candidates to join the project team, and a good management team consisting of individuals who can provide the project team with the right leadership and motivation to solve this problem.

Lack of Stakeholder Support: The primary stakeholders, such as business owners and executives who are affected by or interested in a project, should back it up by authorising its launch and making the required investments. It is impossible to initiate a project without funding and support from the stakeholders (Livesey, 2016). To solve this problem, managers should first ensure that the project provides an actionable solution that addresses the business need. They should conduct a feasibility study to determine whether the solution is technically feasible and perform a cost-effectiveness and risk analysis to ensure it is cost-effective.  The data about the risks, costs, and feasibility of the project should be presented in a proposal document explaining the benefits of the project and submitted to the top management for assessment and approval.

Lack of Consensus on the Project Output: To tackle this challenge, you should unambiguously and expressly agree on the project output between the sponsor and the customer on the one side and the team and project manager from the other side. You can also develop a document containing a description of the project objectives, and goals, deliverables and other relevant data (Livesey, 2016). You can organise a meeting with the sponsor and the customer to agree on the products to be offered, the amount of money to be invested, the project timeline, and deliverables.Order Now from Course ResearchersPlanning

Planning is the most unappreciated and complicated process in PM. It identifies the processes required to define the project scope and develop strategic plans (Mustaro & Rossi, 2013). The process group also specifies the expected outcomes of the project and develops the right infrastructure to fulfil those expectations according to the budget constraints and timelines. Project planning entails developing communication and a risk management plan, identifying deliverables, creating the work breakdown, team selection, developing budgets, and developing the project schedules and the scope statement. A survey by Gallup uncovered that only 2.5 per cent of firms successfully implement 100 per cent of their projects. According to PMI research, every one billion dollars invested by companies on projects in the U.S., 122 million dollars get wasted due to lack of proper planning and performance. Figure 2 lists some knowledge areas, outputs, and planning processes related to project planning.

Figure 2. Processes, planning, and outputs

Challenges in the Planning Phase and the Possible Solution

Every project is unique regarding its objectives, scope, and client requirements. Although each project may face different challenges, there are some common issues that projects can stumble upon during the planning stage (Eyers & Naim, 2019). The most common problems faced by project managers during this phase include unclear goals, risk management, and unrealistic deadlines.

Unrealistic Deadlines: A study by wellington shows that only 37 per cent of project teams in the United Kingdom reported implementing their projects on-time (Kerzner, 2017). Furthermore, as published by Liquid Planner, adhering to the deadlines is the second-largest challenge project managers face in the manufacturing sector. For companies, project delays may cause increased labour, equipment and material costs.  Project managers can tackle deadline challenges and other related difficulties with proper communication of the project’s real-time progress to the stakeholders and decision-makers, impeccable planning, and alternative analysis. They should plan their events, manage their schedules, and monitor the important dates indicated in the project calendar.

Poorly Defined Goals: Unclear goals may push a project in danger. Project managers and their teams might not know the exact outcomes of a project if the objectives and goals are unclear; the project can easily fail (Kerzner, 2017). When no stakeholder is aware of why the project exists, what the project is about, and when it will be completed, what can follow is a lot of chaos and confusion. To solve this challenge, a project manager should ensure the project goals and objectives are clearly defined during the planning process. When the team members understand the project’s goal, they can define the objectives, that is the what, why, and how they need to do for planning. They can hold kickoff meetings and use project planning software to develop clear goals.

Risk management: Risk management encompasses the identification, analysis and prioritisation of risk in a firm (Edwards & Bowen, 2013). After identifying a particular risk, an organisation can apply the necessary resources to monitor, minimise and control it. In some cases, a project may fail to go as planned. Therefore, risk management is a critical project management aspect. The risks may include hidden project laws, financial market uncertainties, and other unknown factors that can adversely affect the project. Project managers can anticipate the parts of the projects that are likely to fail due to risk by collecting information and engaging in effective strategic planning. They can develop actionable risk management plans with control measures to help in tackling risks during the planning process.

Executing

Project execution entails taking relevant actions to ensure that the project activities are completed. It also encompasses work needed to install any new software, procedures, and hardware into the normal project operations (Singh & Lano, 2014). Project products are usually produced in this phase. Therefore, companies tend to spend most of their resources in this process. Figure 3 has listed the knowledge areas, outputs, and executing the process involved in this stage. Many project customers and sponsors focus on the results or deliverables related to offering the services, products or results expected from the project. Tackling problems such as corrective actions and change requests are also considered as critical outputs during implementation.

Figure 3. Executing processes, knowledge areas, and outputsOrder Now from Course ResearchersChallenges in the Execution Phase and the Possible Solutions

Some challenges managers can face at this stage include poor team skills and lack of stakeholder engagement.

Lack of stakeholder engagement: Stakeholder management and stakeholder engagement are arguably the most critical aspects of successful project execution. Project managers rely on different stakeholders to respond to the project outputs and the benefits they offer. People can only respond if they feel engaged (Singh & Lano, 2014). The phrase implies that the people affected by the project can be made to contribute their opinions concerning the project. Disinterested team members, managers or vendors can destroy projects. Skilled project managers can solve this challenge by communicating openly with their teams and encouraging them to provide regular feedback regarding the project execution, actively managing their expectations, addressing their concerns before they escalate, and clarifying and resolving issues in time.

Poor Team Skills: Although project managers might be experienced at their work, the project may fail if their team members lack the required skills to perform their duties (Singh & Lano, 2014). The project team members are usually allocated roles based on their availability for a particular responsibility. Sometimes, they may not be qualified to perform the tasks they are given. Some problems may be challenging and could demand some level of expertise and knowledge. Therefore, it is up to the project manager to decide whether some team members need additional training. They can enhance the skills of their employees by availing project management training programs. They should evaluate the capabilities of the workers and encourage them to attend the training programs to become more competent in their duties. The members can also enhance their skills through online training programs

Controlling and Monitoring Phase

Controlling and monitoring entail measuring the employees’ progress with their roles, assessing any deviations, and implementing relevant corrective measures. The process continues throughout a project’s life (Wysocki, 2011). Managers can only stop the monitoring activities once the desired goals and objectives are achieved. Monitoring may also mean stopping a project before completion due to some reasons such as higher priorities, lack of resources, and implementing changes into the firm.

Challenges in the Controlling and Monitoring Phase and the Possible Solutions

Despite the best intentions and efforts, many firms miss their project targets for various reasons: estimation errors, optimism bias, and scope creep among others. Many organisations can blame their project failures on weak controls and monitoring systems (Adebayo, Eniowo, & Ogunjobi, 2018). Some control and monitoring challenges include lack of support and commitment from the senior management, perception as another cost function, and confrontational dynamics.

Confrontational Dynamics: People often view functions such as control and monitoring with suspicions (Adebayo, Eniowo, & Ogunjobi, 2018). However, managers can tackle this challenge by building partnerships with the employees rather than using a me-versus-you approach. Managers should also integrate the monitoring and control functions with other project management areas.

Lack of Commitment and Support from Senior Management: many managers use the words control and monitoring interchangeably. However, monitoring may be passive, while control entails making active decisions based on reporting and analysis (Mielli & Bulanda, 2019). It cannot be achieved without proper leadership and management support. In the absence of support and autonomy, project controllers may not meet their goals. Managers should communicate the benefits of the project to the executives to win their support. They should also ensure the control team is adequately staffed and backed up with adequate resources to invest in the relevant controls.

Perception as a Cost Function: Controls may not come to the limelight until problems are experienced (Mielli & Bulanda, 2019). They can, therefore, be perceived as overhead expenses, which is not true. Managers can change the perceptions of the team members by training them on the potential returns on investment from controls.Order Now from Course ResearchersThe Closing Process Group

The closing phase encompasses the processes performed by the project teams to conclude the tasks across all the process groups and end the project. It is critical to know how well the project has performed before closing it (Sanghera, 2019). Even if managers conduct proper execution and monitoring processes, there are still some tasks that must be completed towards the end of the project. The process assures the executives that the project has been closed and no further financial charges can be attributed to or accrued by the project. It also informs the sponsors that the project has ended and allows the employers to reassign the project team members to other tasks or activities.

Challenges in the Closing Phase and the Possible Solutions

The central challenge managers can face when closing a project is that it must be approved for the sponsors or clients. Ideally, project management aims to obtain stakeholder support and acceptance of the project outcome. It means that stakeholders must agree that the parameters of the project quality specifications have been met (Kloppenborg, Tesch, & Manolis, 2014). To make this process go smoothly, the project manager must document an actionable performance evaluation criterion from the beginning of the project. The information should be contained in the project plan and should include all the changes implemented throughout the project life cycle. Measurable and objective criteria are always preferred. Subjective approaches may be risky and open to misinterpretation. Managers should not leave any room for ambiguity or doubt. Another challenge is that the project may be incomplete when delivered to the relevant stakeholders. To tackle this problem, managers should consider some areas such as documenting the lessons learned, updating the financial systems, settling all invoices, updating the risk and work registers, conducting project audits, preparing the final project report, and documenting all the project requirements.

In summary, projects that are wider in scope, complex, and resource-intensive with high strategic significance require managers to have higher levels of experience and knowledge in project management. High-value projects may need certified project managers to navigate the five process groups. The phases keep us as project managers on task to track and assess the project progress. The control systems and processes let people apply the skills, resources, tools and knowledge that ensure the project succeeds.

References

Adebayo, O. R., Eniowo, O. D., & Ogunjobi, V. O. (2018). Assessment of Project Monitoring and Control Techniques in Ondo State Agency for Road Maintenance and Construction (OSARMCO). International Journal of Engineering and Management Research (IJEMR)8(5), 177-184.

Alami, A. (2016). Global project management challenges. PM World Journal5(1), 1-15.

Edwards, P., & Bowen, P. (2013). Risk management in project organisations. Routledge.

Eyers, D., & Naim, M. (2019). Project Management for Effective Operations Management. In Contemporary Operations and Logistics (pp. 11-27). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Hill, Jr, A. T., & Nelson, M. L. (2019). Application of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) in an Interdisciplinary Capstone: The AISC Steel Bridge Competition. International Journal of Engineering3(1), 17-24.

Kerzner, H. (2017). Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. John Wiley & Sons.

Kloppenborg, T. J., Tesch, D., & Manolis, C. (2014). Project success and executive sponsor behaviours: Empirical life cycle stage investigations. Project Management Journal45(1), 9-20.

Livesey, P. V. (2016). Insights of project managers into the problems in project management. Construction Economics and Building16(1), 90.

Mielli, F., & Bulanda, N. (2019, April). Digital Transformation: Why Projects Fail, Potential Best Practices and Successful Initiatives. In 2019 IEEE-IAS/PCA Cement Industry Conference (IAS/PCA) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.

Mustaro, P., & Rossi, R. (2013, July). Project management principles applied in academic research projects. In Proceedings of the Informing Science and Information Technology Education Conference. Informing Science Institute.

Project Management Institute (PMI). (2013). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (5th ed.). Newton Square

Sanghera, P. (2019). Project Management Framework. In PMP® in Depth (pp. 3-43). Apress, Berkeley, CA.

Singh, R., & Lano, K. (2014, August). Defining and formalising project management models and processes. In 2014 Science and Information Conference (pp. 720-731). IEEE.

Tereso, A., Ribeiro, P., Fernandes, G., Loureiro, I., & Ferreira, M. (2019). Project Management Practices in Private Organizations. Project Management Journal50(1), 6-22.

Wysocki, R. K. (2011). Effective project management: traditional, agile, extreme. John Wiley & Sons.

Zwikael, O., & Smyrk, J. R. (2019). Project Management: A Benefits Realisation Approach. Springer.



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