Project Management in Different Sector Research Proposal
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Project Management in Different Sector
1. Title of the Research Project
The working title of this project is initially drafted as – Project Management in Different Sector. Project management is simply defined as the discipline of carefully planning, designing and managing resources for the purpose of bringing about the success completion of project goals and objectives. The four sectors that are going to be considered in this study are IT, built environment and construction, health and banking.
2. Research Context
A project, as a unique repetitive undertaking, must start from scratch. Scope must be defined, responsibilities must be allocated and work must be scheduled, resourced and budgeted. Since a project can also be large, complex and an ever-changing entity, an effective project management schema is critical to the success or failure of the project (Harrison and Lock, 2004). The entire process of project management employs different levels of functions for main parameters that include scope, time, cost and resource and beyond project control that includes people, communications, leadership, team working, risk, value and safety (Cleland and Ireland, 2002).
A project generally include the specification of project objectives, the maximization of efficient resource utilization, the implementation of various operations and the development of effective communications and mechanisms for resolving conflicts (Baracco-Miller, 1987). The project management also deals with the effects and impacts of project risks aside from recognizing the need to provide incentives if any of the elements within the distinct areas will pose greater risks. There are three risks for the project management itself such as socio-economic factors (environmental protection, public safety regulation, economic instability and exchange rate fluctuation); organizational relationships (contractual relations, attitudes of participants and communication) and technological problems (design assumptions, site conditions, procedures and occupational safety). In addition, project management will include the organization of project participants (Zozaya-Gorostiza, 1988).
Applications and effectiveness of project management for different sectors is an issue that has not been reconciled yet. The rationale for such is profound encompassing issues of projectification, project complexities including management of projects and actuality of projects. Projectification refers to the implementation of various works being organized through projects as well as the processes through which an individual project is created. For this dissertation, four sectors will be considered: information technology (IT), built environment and construction, health and banking. There are eight areas to be cover and which will be regarded as points of comparison. These are: resource planning, project control, quality management, project risk management, project communications, project organization structures, project teams and project leadership.
Philips (2003, pp. 279-280) states that resource planning refers to the process of examining the project work and determining what resources, people and equipment are needed to complete the project. Such process also includes identifying the expected quantity of the needed resources to the predicted cost can be calculated. Familiar inputs are work breakdown structure, historical information, scope statement, resource pool description, organizational policies and activity duration estimates.
Project control, according to Lewis (2002, p. 93), is one single purpose in every action taken in project management. The duty of project controlling is generally vested on the project manager wherein the organization resources are expected to be managed in such a way that critical results are achieved. Control system focuses on achieving project objectives with the aim of ensuring that the project mission is achieved. Control system should be therefore designed with the following questions in mind: Which aspects of the work are most important to track and control? What are the critical points in the process at which controls should be placed? Control should be exercised over what is important yet what is controlled tends to be important as well. As such, if budgets and schedules are emphasized to the exclusion of quality, only those will be controlled, the quality of the project may suffer. Project managers must monitor performance carefully to ensure that quality will not be jeopardized.
Project managers understand that that failure to achieve quality can have devastating immediate and long term consequences on the entirety of the project. The effective management of quality directly impacts the project outcomes. Over the years, quality tools and techniques have been developed and refined, perceived as a mean to address the triple constraint of time, cost and scope. These three elements are of equal importance to project success. Quality processes that maintain cost and schedule constraints will ensure a quality project and outcomes (Rose, 2005, p. 8).
Lewis (2002) noted that risk management is the systematic process to identify, quantify, analyze and respond to project risk. The management of risks includes maximizing the probability and consequences of positive events and minimizing the probability and consequences of adverse events to project objectives.
Project communications involves planning, executing and controlling the acquisition and dissemination of all information relevant to the needs of all project stakeholders. Information includes project status, accomplishments, events that may affect other stakeholder or projects and so on. Heerkens (2001, p. 204) mentions that communication and documentation are natural combination as they bind the project together from start to finish. The Project Management Configuration Plan (PMCP) serves as an excellent communication tool.
Project organization structures reflect the tasks and reporting structure from project managers, technical managers into schedule, quality, contract and material managers as well as system director and technical working group. Cleland (2007, p. 387) said that the project manager and the project technical manager generally managed the whole project while the two project vice managers and three project technical vice managers were responsible for a specific mission.
Project teams share a sense of common purpose while also determining individual talents and expertise and use them, depending on the needs of the project at any given time. Project team development passes through forming, storming, forming, performing and adjourning. It is the project manager’s duty to help the group evolve quickly to the productive performing phase while at the same time making the group understand its own development. Aside from recruiting team members with the necessary experience and knowledge/technical skills critical for completion, team members should have problem-solving ability, availability, technological expertise, credibility and political connections and also ambition, initiative and energy (Gray and Larson, 2002, pp. 350-355).
Project management goes hand in hand with leadership especially that the project manager’s job is dealing with people. Exercising leadership skills directly relates with the lack of authority of project managers and management skills since it deals with administrated aspects of the job such as budgets, schedules and logistics among others. Nevertheless, it is through leadership that project managers could get people to perform at optimum levels (Lewis, 2006, p. 30).
2.1 Relevance of the Study
This study will be of significant importance to the project management literature as it will present an in-depth understanding of how the eight areas move along with the project management requirements as well as those requirements of the project managers themselves. The comparative analysis of how project management operates across different sectors will be relevant to identify with the challenges, risks and threats faced by project managers. The sectors have not been also explored on the basis of the integration of the eight areas but the eight constructs are independently investigated. As such, the completion of this dissertation will provide understanding of the concepts presented so as to generate data and information that every project managers could use in order to come up with strategies, tactics, techniques, tools, plans and designs that will strategically position them in the highly competitive, diverse, and complex project management environment that is experienced at present.
2.2 Research Aim and Objectives
The main aim of this research is to analyze the application and effectiveness of project management in various sectors. It is the goal of this project to:
- Assess projectification of various sectors
- Evaluate similarities and differences in terms of conformance to the eight distinct areas
2.3 Research Question
The key question that this study will address is: How does the process of project management is employed in sectors such as IT, built environment and construction, health and banking? Specifically, how these sectors address the projectification of their respective projects will be addressed. What are similarities and differences among these sectors when it comes to project management will be also explored.
3. Overview of the Literature
For this study, a conceptual framework will be designed which will encompass four elements: product, marketing, audience and communications. To illustrate:
Laszlo (1999) acknowledged the amount of discussion that has taking place, extolling the virtues of project management and its great influence on the overall successful operation of organizations in all sectors. The author also asserts that project management can be also applied to any set of activities and in this context, it is no less than a universal management tool. Longman and Mullins (2004) also noted that project management requires deliberate planning and action to create the conditions for success and put in place the strategy, leadership, goals, process, skills, systems, issue resolution, and structure to direct and exploit the dynamic nature of project work. Several conditions fundamental for the success of any project that apply for all projects are: make it practical, relevant, and beneficial from day one; make systems and procedures project management-friendly; make project management a win for team members and managers; make project management an ongoing learning experience, and; make success public.
Thomas (1990) concluded that project management requires distinct skills and competencies and that these will be developed by project managers if they mean to be effective. Because project management is of growing importance as bureaucratic organizations pass through transition to be more flexible “network organizations,” work is increasingly undertaken by groups and teams, and the focus of assessment shifts from input to output. In certain sectors, companies are coming to resemble portfolios of projects.
Project Management in IT
Whittaker (1999) contends that IT project management is crucial for contemporary organizations. A 1995 study found out that 31% of software projects will be cancelled even before its completion and more than half the projects will cost an average of 189% of the original estimates. The three most common reasons for IT project failures are poor project planning, a weak business case, and a lack of top management involvement and support. When attributing IT project’s success or failure, IT support workers attribute failure to external factors, whilst attributing success to themselves. On the other hand, executive management took a more balanced perspective which attribute success to external factors and only partially to themselves, whereas they attribute significant personal responsibility for failure (Standing et al, 2006).
Thite (1999) emphasized the nature and importance of leadership in technical projects. The author noted that there is a need to develop a leadership model incorporating the distinguishing personality and occupational characteristics of technical professionals. The rationale behind this is that a combination of transformational and technical leadership behaviors augments the effectiveness of transactional leadership leading to high project success. Since there is no single leadership style effective for all project situations, what could make projects successful are flexible style characterized by organizational catalyst, intellectual stimulation, behavioral charisma, and contingent reward behaviors for enhanced leadership effectiveness.
Project Management in Built Environment and Construction
Senaratne and Sexton (2009) stress that unplanned changes in construction projects are common and lead to disruptive effects such as project delays, cost overruns and quality deviations. Rework due to unplanned changes can cost 10-15 per cent of contract value. By managing these changes more effectively, these disruptive effects can be minimized. One of the ways to minimize this is through effective knowledge management. Different forms of knowledge are created and shared between project team members during change events which is very much socially constructed and centered on tacit knowledge and experience of project personnel.
Lindahl and Ryd (2007), further, claim that innovative and effective communication and collaboration must not be only evident among project managers and teams but also between clients and construction project management professionals. Based on workshops conducted on construction clients, the need for better briefing with the focus on end-users is known to be increasing. Difficulties for construction projects to deliver what the user-clients need include lack of systems and methods to keep track of user client demands sufficiently and in a satisfactory way. As such, goals need to be iterated and validated on a regular and coherent basis throughout projects.
Project Management in Health
Budu and Welvaert (2006) highlight the need to invest more in health care management training as a catalyst for accelerating the restructuring of the sector especially ion light of projects. By drawing on the existing change management program, the project is evaluated by investigating results achieved to date and the need for its services.
Project Management in Banking
Heng (1996) investigated the methodology used by a UK-based multinational banking group to develop its business continuity plans. By describing the stages (modules) in the methodology sequentially, the author shows how this modularity is a key success factor, enabling a project manager to complete a module - with specific objectives, tasks and deliverables - within a specific time period, facilitating effective management of the overall project. Carey (2001), on the other hand, explored the importance of risk management in financial projects. The basis of banking and similar financial institutions is taking risk in conditions of uncertainty, making various Turnbull ideas have become the bedrock of risk management
4. Research Design
4.1 Research Philosophy and Approach
The research philosophy adopted for this dissertation is interpretive epistemology which simply refers to the philosophical underpinning of the research. Interpretive epistemology has a basic assumption that knowledge can only be created and understood from the point of view of the individuals who live and work in a particular culture or organization. Therefore, every individual acts in situation and makes sense of what is happening based on experiences of the situation and the expectations people bring into it. This means that there maybe different understandings and interpretations of reality and interpretive epistemology leads to accessing meanings made by others and describe how they come to make those meanings (Hatch and Cunliffe, 2006, p, 14). The choice of this philosophy is important because it guides the research design, the research approach, choice of methods, analysis of the findings, and even the presentation.
This research will operate within the cross-sectional design, as data on more than one case, using questionnaires, structured observation, and document analysis will be collected. The benefit of this would be that I would be able to focus on the breath of the research. Moreover, by exploring the breath of the topic, validity and the truthfulness of the research could be increased, and thereby minimize the confounding variables. Towards the latter part of the research, a comparative design to compare which concept are similar and different when it comes to adhering into the eight distinct areas will be utilized.
4.2 Research Methods and Strategies
The research will be approached in a descriptive manner. A descriptive research intends to present facts concerning the nature and status of a situation, as it exists at the time of the study and to describe present conditions, events or systems. As descriptive also, the study concerns the relationships and practices that exist, beliefs and processes that are ongoing, effects that are being felt, or trends that are developing (Creswell, 1994; Best, 1970). The researcher opted to use this kind of research considering the desire of the researcher to obtain first hand data from project managers so as to formulate rational and sound conclusions and recommendations for the study.
Further, a survey questionnaire will be designed especially for this project. A semi-structured questionnaire will be used for this study. This research will use a mixture of closed questions and more open comments in the questionnaire. It is also planned that the questionnaire will include a five-point Likert scale questions. Three project managers from each sector will be surveyed, hence 12 project managers. From this, the questionnaire of the three project managers belonging to the same sector will be analyzed quantitatively. The results of the quantitative analysis will be analyzed using comparative analysis.
4.3 Data Analysis and Presentation
The survey data would be presented using descriptive and inferential statistics, based around a number of propositions that the study identified. With this said, this dissertation will be presented in written format with the addition of data charts, representing study results. The results and findings of the study will be presented in five chapters: Chapter 1 – background of the study, the objectives, research problems, the study’s scope and limitation and its significance; Chapter 2 – literatures pertaining to project management are reviewed; Chapter 3 – methodology used for this study is discussed; Chapter 4 – results of the conducted survey are presented and analyzed; and Chapter 5 - summarizes the findings and provides conclusion and recommendations. Some of the analyzed data will be illustrating using pie charts and network charts but this may not be confirmed until survey data had been analyzed.
4.4 Limitations of the Research Design
The study is limited on eight distinct areas of project management identified and as applied within the four sectors determined. The utilization of the four sectors which include IT, built environment and construction, health and banking is another limitation because of the fact that it cannot make generalizations. The study is also limited only the pieces of information that the project managers as respondents are willing to disclose. It is limited to the respondents’ capability to answer such questions.
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