Chapter 50 – Review
A project is a short-term activity bringing together people with different skills,
equipment and resources to achieve specified objectives.
Project management begins with the selection of a project manager and a
project team. The project itself must be broken down into tasks, with
estimated times for completion being calculated and documented,
Projects usually have the following characteristics:-
They have a specific objective
They must be developed within a specified time period
They must be developed within a given budget
A team of people is brought together temporarily from different areas
work on the project. When the project is finished, the team will be
Selection of a project manager
The project manager need to have the necessary technical skills, but just as
important are the managerial skills needed to be able to lead and motivate a
group of people from different departments and different levels within an
organisation. Good interpersonal skills and business experience are also
The Tasks of a project manager:
Plan and staff the project
Report project status
Control budgets and salaries
Prepare performance appraisals
Interact with users, corporate management and project personnel.
The Project Team
This is selected by the project manager. An ideal team is around 5 – 7
members. As the team size increases, level of job satisfaction drops,
absenteeism and turnover rise, and the project may start to miss deadlines.
Some projects however are too complex to have such a small team.
A project team should have a balance of theoreticians and practitioners,
idealists and realists. This is represented in the five principles:-
1. Principle of top talent – Employ fewer but better people
2. Principle of job matching – Match skills and motivations available to the
task at hand
3. Principle of team balance – There needs to be a balance between
the technical skills, knowledge and personality characteristics of team
4. Principle of phase out – There will inevitably be a misfit on the team
resulting in “unhealthy results in the long run.” Getting the misfit out
may not be easy but must be done with adequate thought, time and
5. Principle of career progression – Bring out the best in people by
enabling them to work on tasks that will help them to progress.
Project planning and scheduling
The project manager will divide the project up into phases and the phases into
tasks, This may be done by identifying the project milestones which
represent significant progress towards completion. After this the skills are
identified and the time required for completion of each task calculated based
on skills and availability of staff.
Every task in the project must be defined. This is to ensure no task is
overlooked which will lead to overruns in costs and time..
Tasks that are overlooked are training, production of reports and project
reviews, also the cost of correction of errors and omissions.
Example: it is proposed to install a new computer network in the 6 th form block
of a school. What are the tasks involved in completing this project?
1. Carry out initial feasibility study.
2. Invite tenders from suppliers.
3. Choose a supplier.
4. Purchase computers.
5. Re-cable the building.
6. Draw up the plans for new classroom layout.
7. Convert classroom.
8. Install computers.
9. Purchase network software.
10. Install hardware and network software.
11. Test network.
12. Install end-user software.
Most project schedules need constant updating and revision during the course
of the project. It is important to have a formal review process to monitor and
control the progress of a project. Review sessions every few weeks or so to:
Compare progress against the project schedule
Keep management informed and involved in the progress of the project
Reconfirm that current tasks lists and schedules are correct and on
Identify any problems or slippage and come up with solutions
Encourage team spirit and communication between team members.
Characteristics of a good team
A good team requires
Leadership – someone who can inspire and keep the team
motivated, and who understands exactly what has to be achieved.
Appropriate allocation of tasks – the best person for the particular
Adherence to standards – proper procedures are carried out,
documentation kept up to date etc.
Monitoring, costing and controlling – progress must be monitored,
schedules adjusted, costs kept within agreed limits and not allowed to
spiral out of control.