1. Project success is determined by a set of various conditions including proper planning, and execution of the project. Usually project’s success is determined by the SMART criteria which stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. In other words for the project to become a success, it has to be well defined, with set deadlines, and done by people who can actually get the job done (achievable).
Whenever the project does not meet the SMART criteria, there is a great chance that the project will be of no use to the company that initiates it. The reason why a large number of projects fail to meet their stated objectives, i.e. schedule, cost, scope and performance objectives is because it is rather hard for the project managers to precisely predict the future to which a given project relates. Although, everyone understands that project should meet the SMART criteria, in practice it is rather hard to achieve especially when the corporate resources are scarce (Martin, 232).
2. Effective project manager possesses the attributes applicable to a regular manager (ability to plan, organize, direct and control) as well as specific knowledge/skills related to the projects of a certain industry. The project manager must be able to define the project well and have enough skills to motivate the employees to commit to the project and get it done.
3. There exist a difference between management and leadership. Leadership is the ability to organize and lead people, prompting them to take some action as commanded. Leader typically is a great motivator and may be formal or informal.
Also leader my not be a manager, just like a manager may not be a leader. Management, in theory surpasses leadership, since leadership is a part of management and relates to organizing and directing (besides, planning, and controlling). I believe one needs both a project manager and a project leader, who can be one person. The manager will be able to create a conceptual framework and define what needs to be done, while leader would prompt the team to engage in activity and effectively get the project done (Wysocki 133).
4. Since teams are made of people, in order to organize a successful project team one needs to organize people into a set of mutually interdependent group of people, who would work together for the common goal. Here one needs to select people from different backgrounds to provide different experiences to the team yet assure that they are able to work with each other. Typically, in order to build a team it takes some time to break the project into smaller tasks who would then be assigned to various team-members (Kendrick, 47).
People need to be aware of the common goal of getting the project done and should have some group responsibility as well as a motivation schedule based on individual contribution to the group. Speaking about some criteria for selecting team members, I would like to note that they comprise selection based on individual experiences and skills, references from the past team mates, and leadership ability. There can be several reasons why some teams don’t work in some project. One of them is that a project can be too small to be handled by a team, so the team wastes time trying to figure out how to engage each team member in the activity.
The other can be that people personally do not like or trust each other, or perhaps, they do not possess enough knowledge about how teams work and who should do what.
5. Needs assessment is believed to be important in project management as argued by the agency theory. As noted earlier, for the team to carry out a project people need to work for the common goal. If each person has totally different needs/goals and nothing is done to accommodate them, then there is a chance that the team will work worse than it potentially could. Needs assessment should be done by team leader right after the team is formed and before people start working on a project.
6. There are many uncertainties in managing projects. For instance, one is not certain that the project will be done in time (or at all) and will meet all the quality demands. Risk in business is defined as a chance of losing money and since all projects require a budget, there is a risk that the money would be wasted. Risk indeed is synonymous to uncertainty yet relates more to the loss of money rather than some vague outcome (uncertainty).
7. Project risk management typically deals with minimization of a loss that can happen to any company and to any project. Risk management department predicts the losses and develops strategies to avoid them.
The reason why most projects do not have a formal project risk management plan is because risk is a concept that is pretty hard to define (Lewis, 98). For instance besides losing all the money spent on the project in case of project failure presents an apparent loss, yet it can more than often have greater effect that can be seen in worsening corporate image, loss of market share, or time given to competition to catch up with our company.
8. Since we consider project risk management as responsible for the loss minimization of a project we should state that project failure is fully attributable to lack of project risk management (since management did not predict the loss that just happened). In reality it is also a fault of a team, project manager, possibly corporate culture and motivation issues.
9. Is there a need for “Project Risk Manager” position? Who should be responsible for project risk management? There appears to be a need for project risk management who would do everything possible to minimize losses/risks. Since team is partially responsible for any project failures, project risk manager should be a part of the team or perhaps its supervisor or leader.
10. What is systems thinking? Who is a systems thinker? What is system dynamics? Systems thinking is a special mindset of understanding how things work in a give setting (Kerzner 105). Systems thinking accounts for patterns of behavior and events of the existing system, setting or the world. System thinker is a person who attempts to interpret relationships within system (team, organization, project, market, etc). System dynamics on the other hand is a methodology for studying and managing existing feedback systems (from management, colleagues, or employees). In simple terms, system dynamics is all about feedback.
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