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Project Management: Resource Considerations Essay

Resources can include people, equipment, machines, tools, facilities, and space. Among the people may be many different types, such as painters, designers, cooks, computer programmers, and assembly workers. The consideration of resources adds another dimension (beyond the element of time) to planning and scheduling. In many projects, the amounts of the various types of resources available to perform the project activities are limited. Several activities may require the same resources at the same time, and there may not be sufficient resources available to satisfy all the demands. If sufficient resources are not available, some activities may have to be rescheduled for a later time when resources are available for them. One way to consider resources is to take them into account when drawing the logical relationships among activities in the network diagram.

In addition to showing the technical constraints among activities, the network logic can also take into account resource constraints. The sequence of activities can be drawn to reflect the limited availability of a number of resources. If resources are to be considered in planning, it’s necessary to indicate the amounts and types of resources needed to perform each activity. For this reason, a resource profile is often developed. Resource leveling, or smoothing, is a method for developing a schedule that attempts to minimize the fluctuations in requirements for resources. This method levels the resources so that they are applied as uniformly as possible without extending the project schedule beyond the required completion time.

Resource leveling attempts to establish a schedule in which resource use is made as level as possible without extending the project beyond the required completion time. In resource leveling, the required project completion time is fixed, and the resources are varied in an attempt to eliminate fluctuation. Resource-limited scheduling is a method for developing the shortest schedule when the number or amount of available resources is fixed. This method is appropriate when the resources available for the project are limited and these resource limits cannot be exceeded.

This method will extend the project completion time if necessary in order to keep within the resource limits. It is an iterative method in which resources are allocated to activities based on the least slack. The steps are repeated until all resource constraints have been satisfied. In resource-limited scheduling, the resources are fixed, and the project completion time is varied in order not to exceed the resource limits. For a large project that requires many different resources, each of which has a different limit of availability, resource-limited scheduling can get very complicated. Various project management software packages are available that will assist with this process.

It is the responsibility of the project manager to make sure that the customer is satisfied that the work scope is completed in a quality manner, within budget, and on time. The project manager has primary responsibility for providing leadership in planning, organizing, and controlling the work effort to accomplish the project objective. In terms of planning, the project manager has to clearly define the project objective and reach agreement with the customer on this objective. In terms of organizing, the project manager must secure the appropriate resources to perform the work. In terms of controlling, the project manager needs to track actual progress and compare it with planned progress. The project manager is a key ingredient in the success of a project and needs to possess a set of skills that will help the project team succeed.

The project manager should be a good leader who inspires the people assigned to the project to work as a team to implement the plan and achieve the project objective successfully; be committed to the training and development of the people working on the project; be an effective communicator who interacts regularly with the project team, as well as with any subcontractors, the customer, and her or his own company’s upper management; and have good interpersonal skills. It is important that the project manager develop a relationship with each person on the project team and effectively use his or her interpersonal skills to try to influence the thinking and actions of others. An effective project manager can handle stress and has good sense humor. In addition, he or she is a good problem solver.

Although it’s easier to identify problems than to solve them, good problem solving starts with the early identification of a problem or potential problem. Good project managers also manage their time well. These essential skills can be developed through experience, by seeking out feedback from others, by conducting a self-evaluation and learning from your own mistakes, by interviewing effective project managers, by participating in training programs, by joining organizations, through reading, and through involvement with volunteer organizations in which all these skills can be tested. Project managers need to be good delegators.

Delegation involves empowering the project team to accomplish the expected results for her or his area of responsibility. It’s the act of following individuals to carry out assigned tasks successfully. One other important component of the project manager’s job is managing and controlling changes to minimize any negative impact on the successful accomplishment of the project objective. To do this successfully, the project manager, at the beginning of the project, should establish procedures regarding how changes will be documented and authorized.

A team is a group of individuals working interdependently to achieve a common goal. Teamwork is the cooperative effort by members of a team to achieve that common goal. The effectiveness – or lack thereof – of the project team can make the difference between project success and project failure. Project teams evolve through various stages of development. Forming, the initial stage of the team development process, involves the transition from individual to team member. During this stage, individuals on the team begin to get acquainted. During the storming stage, conflict emerges and tension increases. Motivation and morale are low. Members may even resist team formation.

However, after struggling through the storming stage, the team moves into the norming stage of development. Relationships among team members and between the team and the project manager have become settled, and interpersonal conflicts have been resolved for the most part. The fourth and final stage of team development and growth is the performing stage. In this stage, the team is highly committed and eager to achieve the project objective. The members feel a sense of unity. Characteristics often associated with effective project teams include a clear understanding of the project objective, clear expectations of each person’s role and responsibilities, a results orientation, a high degree of cooperation and collaboration, and a high level of trust. Barriers to team effectiveness include unclear goals, unclear definition of roles and responsibilities, lack of project structure, lack of commitment poor communication, poor leadership, turnover of project team members, and dysfunctional behavior.

Team building – developing a group of individuals to accomplish the project objective – is an ongoing process. It is the responsibility of both the project manager and the project team. Socializing among team members supports team building. To facilitate socializing, team members can request that they be physically located in one office area for the duration of the project and they can participate in social events. Diversity is about acknowledging, understanding, and valuing differences, and creating a work environment that recognizes, respects, and harnesses differences among team members for the benefits of accomplishing a shared goal, such as the project objective.

Diversity of the team brings unique ideas and perspectives to projects. Diversity should be seen and valued by the project team as a strength that can enrich communication, foster better relationships, create an enjoyable workplace, and enhance team performance. Ethical behavior is necessary within a project organization and is crucial in project business relationships with the customer, suppliers and subcontractors. Customers and suppliers want to do business with a contractor or project organization that they can trust.

Intentional distortion, deception or misrepresentation is outright unethical. Conflict on projects is inevitable. During a project, conflict can emerge from a variety of situations. Sources of potential conflict on projects include differences of opinion on how the work should be done, how much work should be done, at what level of quality the work should be done, who should be assigned to work on which tasks, the sequence in which the work should be done, how long the work should take, and how much the work should cost.

Project communication takes various forms, including personal communication, meetings, presentations, reports, and project documentation. Communication can be face to face or use some medium, including telephones, voice mail, e-mail, videoconferencing, or groupware. It can be formal or informal. Personal communication can be either oral or written. Oral communication can be face to face or via telephone. Information can be communicated in a more accurate and timely manner through oral communication. Such communication provides a forum for discussion, clarification, understanding, and immediate feedback. Listening is an important part of making communication effective.

Failure to listen can cause a breakdown in communication. Common barriers to effective listening include pretending to listen, distractions, bias and close-mindedness, impatience, and jumping into conclusions. Listening skills can be improved by focusing on the person talking, engaging in active listening, asking questions, and not interrupting. Project managers and team members are often called on to give formal presentations. In preparing for the presentation, it’s important to determine the purpose of presentation, find out about the target audience, make an outline, develop notes and visual aids, make copies of handout materials, and practice. Written reports are often required during a project.

The two most common types of project reports are progress reports and final reports. Progress reports often cover accomplishments since the prior report, the current project status, any potential problems that have been identified and corrective actions that are planned and goals that should be accomplished during the next reporting period. Final reports provide a summary of the project and often include items such as the customer’s original needs, the original project objective and requirements, benefits resulting from the project, a description of the project, and a list of deliverables produced. All reports should be clear and concise and written as you would speak.

Chapter 13: Types of Project Organizations

The three most common structures used to organize people to work on projects are functional, project, and matrix. These structures are applicable to a large majority of businesses and not-for-profit organizations. The functional organization structure is typically used in business that primarily sells and produces standard products standard products and seldom conducts external projects. The focus is on the technical excellence and cost competitiveness of the company’s products, as well as the importance of each functional component’s contribution of expertise to the company’s products. For projects, a multifunctional project team or task force is forced, with members selected from the appropriate sub functions. In this structure, the project manager does not have complete authority over the project team, because administratively the members still work for their respective functional managers.

The project organization structure is used by companies that are working on multiple projects at any one time and do not produce standard products. People are hired to work on a specific project, and each project team is dedicated to only one project. A project-type organization is positioned to be highly responsive to the project objective and customer needs because each project team is strictly dedicated to only one project. The advantages of a functional organizational structure are no duplication of activities and functional excellence.

Disadvantages include insularity, slow response time, and lack of customer focus. The project organization structure has control over resources and responsiveness to customers as advantages. The advantages of a matrix organization structure include efficient utilization of resources, functional expertise available to all projects, increased learning and knowledge transfer, improved communication, and customer focus. Its disadvantages are the dual reporting relationships and the need for a balance of power.


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