Project Management

Project management Evolution

Evolution of Project management

Project management is an increasingly important topic of discussion today because all organizations have encountered problems in implementing a new business process, product, service, or other initiative. When we examine how organizations pursue changes, invariably it involves organizing a team of people with chosen skills to do the job. Management of the activities to complete this class of task is what project management is about(course information here). We are indeed living in interesting times in regard to the project topic. On the one hand, it is now generally recognized that a disciplined approach to managing projects yields positive value in the resulting cost, schedule, and functionality. However, there remains great conflict over exactly what discipline is to be used in this process. In addition to this philosophical discord, technology itself continues to bring new challenges to the organization such that it is often difficult to replicate a successful approach multiple times. Managing a project the same way may well produce different outcomes based on the subtle complex relationships inherent in the process. Also, new tools, techniques, and products continue to enter the marketplace making even five-year-old project management strategies look dated. Therefore, the challenge in navigating this mine-strewn environment is to explore the subject and distill nuggets of information that have stood the test of time and then attempt to pave a pathway that can survive the next wave of technical discontinuity. In order to understand how the current situation got to its present state let us take a quick look at some of the not too distant evolutionary stages that the approach to project management has moved through. History offers subtle insights into broadscale phenomenon such as this. The stages outlined below are somewhat arbitrarily grouped, but are designed to highlight the more obvious driving factors that have changed the approach to managing high-technology projects. By scanning any library or bookstore today, you will find shelves stocked with volumes of books explaining in varying detail methods useful for successful completion of projects. Each author has their own guaranteed project management strategy designed to ensure a triumphant conclusion; yet real-world statistics still show marginal results for most projects. This section does not intend to attempt to trace all the historic trodden paths related to this topic, but does attempt to look back at the people and concepts in history that have formed the foundations of project management on which modern day approaches are based.

Early History of Project Management

The basic principles related to the science of project management have evolved over many decades. This body of knowledge mostly evolved since the early 1900s and accelerated after the 1950s. Some very early projects were quite impressive in their scale, but these did not follow what we would call the modern project management style or organizational culture. Incubation of the modern thought procatalyst cess can be traced to the industrial age during the latter 1880s, which provided much of the ­ the application of a more scientific approach to the management of project and manufacturing profor cesses. Studies and experiments conducted by pioneers in the field during the early part of the twentieth century further paved the way for the understanding of project management as it is known today. One has to look only at the historical structures and monuments left behind in past centuries to conclude that some form of managing a project was in place at that time. It is unfathomable to imagine that the Great Pyramid of Giza, Great Wall of China, or any of the ancient Greek or Roman projects could have been completed without some type of project management that basically guided the work process and managed the variables involved. Each of these undertakings was constructed with nothing more than simple tools and manpower, often slave labor. The early project managers (PMs) were technicians or engineers, generally multi-skilled generalists who could deal with many situations (Kozak-Holland, 2007). The manager in these endeavors was most likely the architect/designer of the project who understood how it needed to be constructed and they were given the authority for allocating sufficient resources to that goal. This style of the multi-skilled technical generalist overseeing projects was the norm throughout the early period.

Success management

The first step in success management is to understand the factors that lead to that conclusion. The basic management model outlined in this text offers a reasonably clear set of processes to achieve that goal. However, the organizational environment in which a project exists may contain factors that still make success unlikely. In some cases, a PM is assigned Project Titanic (i.e., a good ship may still sink because of other external circumstances). When this happens, it is important to realize that evidence now indicates decisions made by the crew of the Titanic actually caused it to sink faster than it would have if left on the iceberg. Of course, the best decision was to stay away from the iceberg in the first place. Therefore, in both situations a catastrophe could have been mitigated with the right management decisions. Here we see that a bad management decision can make a complex situation disastrous. The same conclusion is valid for the project environment. A good PM certainly has if they can find the right pathway through the project icebergs. So, success management requires a series of strategies and related decisions. First, understand where success (or failure) comes from and mitigate as many of the problem factors as possible. Second, through the course of the project, the PM role is to influence the right set of actions to correct deviations that threaten to become a major problem. Third, when a threat surfaces take quick action using all the management skills at hand. Finally, if the boat is in fact sinking, you also have the role of communicating status and recommendations to all participants regarding how to handle the situation. Management will have been informed of status and forecasts along the way. In all of these modes, the PM must be both a leader and an honest broker of information . One might ask “If we follow all these prescriptions, will every project be successful?” Probably not! There are too many uncontrollable variables to expect that, but proper use of the tools and techniques described here should significantly improve the outcome. If we continue to look at what went wrong with the last project and try to ensure that the previous item does not recur, the next project should progress better. Experience from the Japanese quality programs has taught the world how continuous improvement actions over a long period can take a country from a crude tool maker to the Toyota/Lexus manufacturer in slightly over 60 years. Likewise, we must realize that project management is not a short-term band-aid event; it is a process. Organizations must strategically focus on it and individuals must study it in order to achieve the desired results.

By user23395, ago

Top reasons to study accounting

Top reasons to study accounting (it’s more than just numbers…)

What do famous personalities like Sir Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones), Julia Sweeney (American comedian and actress), Kenny G (saxophone extraordinaire) and Peter Falk (TV’s legendary detective Colombo) all have in common? Accounting – They either studied accounting or were professional accountants! Studying accounting - gives you a much broader perspective than additions and subtractions. Once you have completed that bookkeeping course you can graduate to a diploma of accounting by undertaking this course and receive an accredited qualification. Ask any student of accounting, and he/she will readily affirm that studying accounting is not just about the numbers. Their influence in business and society in general goes much beyond ledgers, balance sheets and numbers. As a student of accounting, you don’t necessarily need to end up working as a ‘traditional’ accountant, writing ledgers and preparing Profit & Loss Statements. Studying accounting opens the doors to a whole range of allied careers, including:
  • Finance Managers
  • Business Analysts
  • Business Managers
  • Investment Advisors
  • Risk Management Specialist
While the current workforce in accounting and related jobs is estimated at around 188,000 (as of November 2015), a 5-year projection by the Australian Government, in their Job Outlook (to November 2019) had estimated that there would be over 50,000 new job openings for accountants (and associated jobs). A revealing report by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA), titled Demand and Supply of Accountants, sheds some interesting light on why you may wish to consider studying accounting, and what prospects lay ahead for you if you do decide to pursue a career as an accountant or a related profession.

Numbers DO matter

Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) statistics indicate that, not only is there a healthy demand for accountants, but that the median earnings for accountants track roughly 22% higher than the benchmark “All occupations”. These numbers confirm that studying accounting does bring you the benefit of great jobs, but also pay that’s relatively better than many of Accounting’s peer disciplines.

Age doesn’t matter

Accounting students, enrolled in a certificate, diploma or professional degree program today, should be heartened by the fact that they could be absorbed into the workforce shortly upon completing the course. ABS data shows that, while 31% of accountants are in the 25-34 year age group (compared to 22% for all other professions), studying accounting can also bring youngsters in the age group of 20-24 years into the workforce.  The need to fill the imminent void that will be left by retiring accountants (Boomers and Gen X’s) means you are more likely to position yourself to fill that void if you start your Accounting studies now!

Great employment potential

Studying accounting offers you great long-term potential for employment, whether you are an Australian student, or an overseas student studying accounting at an Australian institution. An Australian Department of Employment study indicated that: Studying accounting opens doors to employment: Over 86% of individuals with an accounting qualification were contributing members to the labour force, compared to 82.5% of individuals with other qualifications

By user23395, ago
Project Management

The Science of Project Management

Application of Analytical Science

As organizational processes became more complex, many underlying aspects of getting work accomplished began to change. Most noticeably, the manufacturing process moved out of the craftsman’s homes into formal factory settings where the products could be mass produced. This necessitated a tighter coupling of work processes and more refined versions of them. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, new technologies using electricity and internal combustion brought a further expansion of manufacturing complexity. Suddenly, employee (non-owner) managers found themselves faced with the daunting task of organizing the manual labor of thousands of workers related to the manufacture and assembly of unprecedented quantities of raw material (Sisk, n.d.). This phase basically marked the beginning point for the application of analytical science to the workplace. If one could point to a birth date for modern ­ project management - click here for PM course details, it would likely be in the two initial decades of the twentieth century and the names summarized in the next section made the subject more visible to the masses.

Frederick Taylor and Scientific Management

Frederick Taylor is called the father of Scientific Management and his influence can be traced through much of the early evolution of project management thought. Taylor came from what was considered a privileged background, but entered into employment with the Midvale Steel Company of Philadelphia as a common laborer in the late nineteenth century. The prevailing wage system in place at the time was called piece work. That is, employees were compensated based on their production rate; more production meant more pay. One common practice for management was to monitor the payroll and as soon as workers began earning “too much,” they would cut the piece rate to try to entice the workers to do more for less. In reaction to this, employees scaled back their output to keep the quota lower. This practice was called “soldiering” (Gabor, 1999, p. 13). Years later, this concept would be called peer pressure and became added to the behavior theory of management. Taylor saw this practice and even participated. Sometime later, he was promoted to gang boss at the mill and became determined to stop the soldiering. Being an engineer, his method of doing this was to find a way to define “scientifically” what a fair pay-for-performance formula would be. In order to do that, he had to research the best method for the job. This would be called process re-engineering in modern terms. Taylor’s application of systematic studies for various jobs and the time required to complete each task represented the roots of project management theory circa 1910. He conducted time studies of various jobs using a stopwatch. This later became a common activity in manufacturing organizations under the title Time and Motion study (Gabor, 1999, p. 17). By standardizing the work processes and understanding the needed times to complete tasks within those processes, Taylor was able to increase the output at the steel company. Taylor was recruited to Bethlehem Steel Works, where he conducted what is his most famous experiment, based on the loading of pig iron (NetMBA, n.d.). The impetus for the experiment was a rise in price for pig iron caused by an increased demand for the product. Using his knowledge of work process and time studies, Taylor set about to increase the productivity of pig iron loading. This task required backbreaking labor, but over the course of time trained workers with the proper skills were put in place. The initial average daily load of pig iron per worker was 13 tons. By conducting time and motion experiments to determine the proper timing of lifting and resting the workers could increase the production to 47.5 tons per day (NetMBA, n.d.). What is not so readily defined in history is that the workers did not readily adopt Taylor’s method, even though he showed that it was more productive. It took several more years before the concept of group behavior was better understood. As is the case with most improvements in management thought, each small step forward leaves behind other unanswered questions. In this case, why would the workers not want to produce more if they did not have to work harder (even with the inticement for more wages)? Taylor became famous after testifying before the U.S. Congress on ways in which the U.S. railway system could be made more productive. This testimony was published in the New York Times describing how utilizing his theory would save the railroads one million dollars per day. One could argue that this was the first of the management “silver bullet” ideas that represented all you needed to know to solve basically any problem. Many of the historians we examine were not afraid to tout their solutions in this way. Taylor left his mark on the industry with his 1911 publication of The Principles of Scientific Management . The four key Taylor management principles were (Ivancevich et al., 2008, p. 143):
  1. Develop a science for each element of a man’s work that replaces the old rule-of-thumb method.
  2. Scientifically select and then train, teach, and develop the workman. In the past he trained himself as best as he could.
  3. Heartily cooperate with the men so as to ensure that all the work is done in accordance with the principles of the science that has been developed.
  4. There is almost an equal division of the work and the responsibility between management and workmen. Management takes over all work for which it is better fitted than workmen, while in the past almost all of the work and the greater part of the responsibility were placed on the workmen. These early foundation concepts provided the framework from which modern project management evolution can be traced today.

By user23395, ago

Business telecommunications

Is telecommuting dead?

From IBM Australia to Yahoo!, are we seeing a growing trend in organizations restricting their telecommuting policies? Last week, IT News reported that IBM Australia has sent out a memo to all of its employees about changes to its telecommuting policy. Their HR team will be reviewing each employee’s case and budget to make a decision as to whether it is still appropriate for them to be working remotely from home. To find out information about business statitiosn in Australia click here. Both IBM Australia and Yahoo! have cited that they’re moving towards regrouping their teams in-house so that they can better connect with each other and synergise their operations. I’m sure many of their employees are huffing and puffing, I mean who wants to have to commute back and forth to and from work when you’ve had the privilege of working from home, with no distractions, no hours spent on public transport or in traffic. Some industry leaders have even predicted that it won't be long before many other organisations restrict their employees from the same arrangements. Especially in the wake of weak trading conditions resulting in falling profits and revenues. From an organisation’s point of view, the management team has a duty to make hard decisions – even if it is unpopular with their employees, to ensure the viability of the company. To ensure industry can be successful it needs to ensure staff members are qualified and a popular study option is the accredited business administration course can give you the edge you are looking for in the business world.

Benefits of telecommuting for a business

  1. Save time commuting to and from work each day – traffic and public transport delays can really take a toll on a person.
  2. Fewer sick days – employees who telecommute are more likely to have a healthier lifestyle, with many saying the time they save commuting to and from work, they spend outdoors instead.
  3. No geographical restrictions when hiring.

Disadvantages of working remotely for Businesses

  1. Can be isolating – employees not knowing each other or working in a team environment can really be mentally challenging in trying to bring a team working cohesively together.
  2. Poor communication channels – many have reported that communication is their greatest challenge. For Managers, many who are there to manage their team at times do not know what their team is up to as they are not physically there.
  3. Security concerns – many employees deal with a lot of sensitive data and are privy to secrets of an organisation’s operations. Telecommuting opens an organisation up to possible leaks and accidental breaches.

Future of Business telecommuting

Over the next few years, we can expect to find more and more organisations pulling back their telecommuting arrangements with their employees, especially in the wake of tougher market conditions. Companies will be trying anything they can to reinvigorate their workforce and to reinspire them to help the companies reach their goals. This Article is a good read about how woman are treated in business. More and more companies are also on the hunt for skilled and knowledgeable employees. Those that have strong analytic skills are able to steer the company towards the right direction and help pull the company out of a storm. That is why it is important that you learn as much as you can, put yourself in situations that will push you to practice what you learn, and get qualified! Find out more here about the business diploma  available or look at some of the other online diplomas and certificates

By user23395, ago

How to lead with purpose – managers guide

Lead With Purpose

What is purpose? Purpose shapes vision. Vision is what shines in the distance and serves as a guiding light. Vision is the process of becoming. Becoming what you want to be when you grow up, or in the case of an organisation what you want to be able to do.   For any organisation to be able to achieve their vision, they must first set their values. Values are what hold people together. They embody the beliefs by which people in the organization choose to abide. Take a hospital. Its values define the respect that employees must manifest toward patients as well as toward each other. Words like dignity, ethics, and respect are prevalent. Values, when they are implemented, become measures by which people hold each other accountable. The end of this chapter contains a guide to defining purpose. Taken together, vision, mission, and values underscore the culture, the glue of an organization. While the concept of culture is broad and deep, when it comes to purpose, we can be very direct and to the point. Quite simply, culture is what the employees perceive as reality inside their organizations. It can be open, tolerant, and flexible, or it can be closed, intolerant, and rigid. Culture does not depend on purpose, but it is greatly influenced by it. Open cultures nurture purpose as if it were mutable and alive; closed cultures regard it as defined and inorganic. (Baldoni 2011)  

How does a manager make purpose relevant?

Simply put, you have to link it to the work your employees are doing!   For some organizations, such as the bakery just mentioned, this is easy. Make the dough, bake the goods, sell to customers, and watch them come back for more. Okay, how do you make purpose relevant if you are the distribution manager for a pipe supply company? You work with spreadsheets and you field phone calls from internal and external customers. How do you discuss purpose? You explain to your employees that logistics are the linchpin of the pipe supply operation. If distribution does not gather and warehouse pipe products from the factory or other sources, you have nothing to sell. If you cannot identify and ship products in a timely fashion, customers cannot buy. How you iterate this is critical to purpose. Expression of purpose may begin with words— chiefly, explanations of what the organization does and why it does it. But words go only so far.   Purpose, if it is to be sustainable, must be linked to organizational culture and values. That is vital. Here are some ways to reinforce this connection. “Purpose comes down to having clear-cut, definite goals,” says Pat Williams, bestselling leadership author. “They are powerful motivating forces. Those goals have to be out in front of the organization. They’ve got to be written down [as well as] reminded and reviewed.” Regarding the Orlando Magic, the NBA team where Williams serves as a senior vice-president, “We talk about two things all the time: winning a championship and keeping every seat full. No one in the organization can miss that.” Putting people first, says Michelle Rhee, onetime chancellor of the Washington, D.C., school district, “is about creating a culture that constantly recognizes people for the work they’re doing.” That requires the involvement of a leader who “ensures that people’s voices are heard.” Purpose in education is a straightforward proposition for Rhee. It stems from doing “what’s right and good for kids.” It was a mantra she took personally and one that she preached throughout the community. That kind of clarity is something that every leader in any field should strive to drive throughout their organization. Reducing purpose to a simple statement is not easy, but it can be a valuable tool in clarifying intention for employees. While working in another job prior to running the D.C. school district, Rhee learned that creating the right culture depends on doing the little things that matter to people— for example, being accessible to the CEO. It is important, says Rhee, that people have a voice with the leader at the top. “I think oftentimes it’s the smaller things that feel more personalized that make people feel valued and recognized.” When serving as chancellor of the school district, Rhee made a habit of reaching out regularly to all levels of the organization. She would personally call a principal or a teacher and thank the individual for the good work he or she was doing. (Baldoni 2011)  

Dangers of having no purpose

Purpose may seem elusive, and it may be tempting to abandon the concept altogether, but consider the alternative: lack of purpose. This leads to organizational listlessness. People may be doing their individual jobs appropriately, but soon each will come to the realization that individual contributions are good, but not great. What is necessary is to get people to pull together for the common cause. “I don’t think you can hit purpose enough as a senior leader,” says George Reed, a retired Army colonel who consults in the corporate sector. “It is one of those things that can be under communicated by an order of magnitude. You cannot oversell, over pronounce ‘Here’s why we’re here.’” If the purpose is not communicated, Reed believes, it will be lost in the “urgencies of the day” that cause people to forget their original intentions and their passion. “The senior leader who bangs that drum, who serves as the symbolic voice of the organization … reminds their people that what they’re doing is important.”  Leadership and management are skills worth learning - click here for more info about this course (Baldoni 2011)    


By user23395, ago