Unit 2 Discussion Questions
What is a project life cycle? Please describe each project phase with one example.
A project life cycle is the duration of time that a project exists. There are 5 phases of the project life cycle. Each one provides a part in the path for the beginning, middle, and ending of a project.
Project Initiating: The project initiating is where the need or the request for the project begins. At this point, feasibility studies, project charters, major deliverables, justification, stakeholders and project teams are developed. An example would be a developing a new Electronic Health Records system. Determining if the project is feasible with current technology, contacting vendors for resource requirements, meeting with stakeholders to discuss justification for new system, determining what is wanted in the new system, and developing the human resources needs for developing the system are documented and researched at this phase.
Planning: The planning phase is where the details of the project are determined within the areas of scope, time, and cost. Planning involves creating a workable plan and outlining the steps involved to achieve the project goals. This would include all activities, work to be performed, dependencies, timeframes and assignments. Scope statements, risk management and communication plans are created in this phase with a solid project plan being ready to execute. An example would be consolidating Windows Servers to a virtual environment. It has already been determined that the human resources are available and the new virtual environment has the resources needed to make the move. Time is taken to plan out the steps involved in the project, including what needs to be done first, what work needs to be done in the background, what concerns are involved, and how long should this project take in work hours. This information is gathered into a project plan and documented. Stakeholders are informed.
Executing: This is the project plans hitting the ground. This is when the steps outlined and activities identified are moving forward and the work begins. Progress is made as each staff reports what work has been completed. Project managers spend time making sure the project plan is being followed and any obstacles in the way are dealt with. At the end of this phase, the required product or service is developed. An example in this phase would be the activities being done with the Windows Servers going virtual. The steps to purchase the updated Windows Server software, install, being up the virtual environment, and attach staff to the new environment would be completed.
Monitoring and controlling: These processes occur after the execution of the project and right before the closure of the project. In many non-project planning projects, this area sometimes goes by the side when rushing through a project plan. With the Virtual Servers, before it is released to all staff, designated staff, a test group, should use the Virtual system for a few weeks to report of there are any issues. Similar to the Electronic Health Records - - this should be brought up live in Medical Records, but roll out in other departments after a period of testing.
Closure: The closure phase is the last phase. It is cleaning up the shop after the work has been done. This phase involves either handing the final product or service to the appropriate stakeholders or the shut down of the project for other reasons. With the Virtual Servers, once the environment is stable and the test group is using it on a regular basis, it is released to all staff. At a given timeline, example 2 weeks, it is determined successful; the project is documented and closed.
Have you experienced any project failure as a project manager? If so, what lessons have you learned? If not, what successful experiences would you like to share? If you haven't had any project management experience, please answer this question based on the course content so far.
I have not experienced failure as a project manager, but I have seen projects fail without the use of project management principles. The lessons from this experience and the knowledge I have gained so far in this class, makes me believe that without taking the time to plan and then creating a project plan is what causes most of the projects I have been involved with to fail. When the team is unsure who is doing what and what is the actual goal of the project, it is a very hard to hold everyone accountable or provide a clear view of the big picture. One project I was involved with had a project plan and a strong project manager. It involved installing a new telecommunication system. Old PBX to new Cisco technology. It worked flawlessly because we took the time to go over the project and make sure all the dependencies and task were completed. Once it was successful, documentation was provided to should there ever be a question as to what was done. It was an excellent project.
According to subunit 2.6, what key project management processes and knowledge areas are covered in PMBOK (2008)? How do they represent your real-world project management experiences?
In subunit 2.6, the key project management process that is discussed is Risk Management. The PMBOK (2008), covers the areas of Risk Management including creating a risk management plan, identifying risks, performing risk analysis – both for quantitative and qualitative, creating a plan to respond to risk and then monitoring/controlling the risks. In real-world project management experiences, risk management has to occur to keep projects on track. By determining what could cause a project to go offline ahead of time, helps to keep projects from being cancelled or shut down due to poor management of resources or time. An example would be the risk of staff leaving. With projects in motion and a key staff members leaves, risk management plan of having a second staff member cross-trained would minimize the risk to the project.
As a project manager, what techniques, tools, or strategies can you use to effectively manage project risks?
The project plan is the strongest source of managing project risk. By following the project plan and having a risk response plan available, risk can be minimized. It cannot be prevented. That is a flaw that will cause the project to fail. Techniques and tools to monitor risk would be using Microsoft Project, having weekly team meetings, making sure that staff are voicing issues and concerns with the project or requesting resources needed, and keeping stakeholders involved so that no surprises are thrown into the mix. A strong communication plan mixed with a risk management plan would allow for risk to be identified and minimized. I have never done a risk management plan, but see the potential of having one in my future projects.
Barron, M. and Barron, A. "The Project Life Cycle.” The Connexions Project. 2009.
Project Management Institute. A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK Guide). 4th Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, 2008.
Saylor.org. "Chapter 3: Project Phases and Organization.” Project Management from Simple to Complex.
Schwalbe, Kathy. Revised Introduction to Project Management, Third Edition. Minneapolis, MN: Kathy Schwalbe, LLC, 2010.