Thursday, September 14, 2006

Managing Project Team

What is a project management team?

The project management team is a team with their characteristics such as: one group of peoples who come and work together to do the project, each team member has difference about responsibility, mission, works, etc. but they have same vision, goals to finish their project. They integrate with others team member to make sure that the project is run and finish on time. Each team have team leader who survey all activities of the team and have enough ability to solve any problems or conflicts can happen with his team to make his member cooperate and synergy to complete the team’s goal.

For example: Football team, they have the captain of team and every player have difference responsibilities, assignments and play at difference positions. The strong football team is the team has the optimal of synergy or combination between the team members, not any individually at all.

We can imagine that work team like the perfect body of human; it has legs, hands, heat, eyes, mouth, etc. We can’t lack one of them.

How to build the project management team?

Firstly, we need to recruit project members. We will not recruit peoples with same talents, because peoples have same talents, they will compete with each others and will make the team more conflict.

Secondly, we use communication roles to build the trust between our team members. If have not communication, we can’t build the trust.

Thirdly, we have so many conflicts, it is naturally, because the peoples come to works together at the first time they will not understand and respect the ideas or talents of each others. That step very difficult, each team member need to convince other member about his or her talent (performance) and adopt the team culture. If they can’t adopt, they can leave.

Fourthly, after the conflicts is solved, we have the strong team, each member has his or her mission with highest productivities, they are one part of the team and we can’t separate them, if lack one of them the team can’t work. If our team likes that, we have high performance team already.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Story About Leadership

Last week, we have discussed about the leadership, distinguish between management and leadership. I would like to tell to you a story about my job four years ago.

At that time, I had just graduated and working for one big construction company in HCM city of Vietnam. First three month, I had done some works in the technical office, after that, they had appointed me to manage one small project. That project was one of their small project, but it very big with me because I hadn’t experience and the first time in my life. That project had around 20 workers, 2 trucks, 3 road rollers and 1 bulldozer.

The first day at the construction site, I had come earlier than anyone, to check the number of equipments, repaired the list of workers, etc. The machines and equipments had been sent by the day before.

At 7am, the workers and machines drivers had come. I had about 15 minutes for small meeting to assign them to do their jobs.

Every thing had run, but I always went around and speeded up the workers. Some workers hadn’t done their jobs well and I have thought that they hadn’t respected me because I had very young at that time.

The first week was very hard for me. Some time, my boss sent some technical to my construction site to control my jobs and I had felt very tired even though I could do every thing at their.

My boss had satisfied with my job, but I hadn’t satisfied with the productivity in the construction site, the workers hadn’t responsibility with their jobs and the machines runner also.

One time, I had reminded that I had road one book name “Act in Leadership” and then I had tried to apply some thing into the current situation, such as:

- Building the good relationship with the workers. (Come to work together with them, share my knowledge and learn the experience from them, asking about their life, etc.)

- Giving and sharing the responsibility to them. (I had separated the workers into 3 groups and selected the leader for each group, the group leader have responsibility and power to assign to his group members.)

- Encouraging the worker.

I had needed the whole of the second week to do it, and the results from them hadn’t badly. I hadn’t work hard like the first time but the effectiveness very high.
I have felt very happy at that time.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Reducing Project Duration

Reducing project duration:

We design or select the projects that have time, cost, and resource suitable with our financial ability, our times and our resources available. Those three things very important and very closely with each other:

Reducing Time --> Using more Resources --> Cost will be increased

Reducing Resources --> Reducing direct cost --> Extending times.

Reducing the time of a critical activity in a project can be done but almost always results in higher direct cost.
When we reduce the time of a critical activity, the project’s critical path can be change with other activities and that new path will determine the new project completion date.
We have some effective methods to reduce project duration:

*Adding Resources: This is popular method to reduce project’s time by assigning additional staff and equipment to activities.

*Outsourcing Project work: A common method for shortening the project time is to subcontract an activity. The subcontract may have access to superior technology or expertise that will accelerate the completion of the activity.

*Scheduling Overtime: The easiest way to add more labor to a project is not to add more people, but to schedule overtime.
Other methods such as: Establish a core project team, Do it Twice-Fast and Correctly, Fast-Tracking, Critical-Chain, Reducing Project Scope, Compromise Quality.

The challenge for the project manager is to use a quick, logical method to compare the benefits of reducing project time with the cost. Critical activities are searched to find the lowest direct-cost activities that will shorten the project duration. Total cost for specific project durations are computed and then compared with the benefits of reducing project time before the project begins or while it is in progress.

Project Cost: the total cost for each duration is the sum of the indirect and direct costs. Indirect costs continue for life of the project, any reduction in project duration means a reduction in direct costs. Direct costs reduce from the project original planed duration, the sum of the costs of all the work packages or activities represents the total direct costs for the project.

Application: Depend on the situation of the company (resources available) and the industry, the project manager have decision to manage his project. The project duration can be extended or reduced base on the profit and the costs according to that project.
The project manager flexible to make decision to get the optimal profits with the lowest costs in the limit times

Monday, August 14, 2006

Scheduling Resources

Scheduling Resources:

Scheduling = Project Network + Resources

To achieve our organization’s goals, we have so many ways, implements, strategies which show on our projects. But we don’t select all of them; we should choose the projects that suitable with our ability (times, costs, resources).
We need to know our resources available and requirement of new project. Based on the company’s strategies, we can develop or decrease our resources.

Organization’s Objectives = Strategies + Projects

Last time we designed the project network and now we add the resources for each activity, we call all of them is schedule. The resources of those activities can be money, peoples, materials, machines.

This step very important, because of it impact directly to financial of project and based on them the organization consider and make decision to develop, reduce or maintain their resources.

When the new project comes, the manager and his or her colleagues need to consider three main things:

· Profits of the project.
· Project’s requirements.
· Their company’s resources available when that project is applied in the future.

The peoples who are assigned to design the schedule must have experience and strongly knowledge in that file.

The peoples who make decision to invest the new project must have experience, knowledge and forecasting skill as well. Form understanding all of company operations, strategies, to their missions. The good project’s manager always has sub-strategies to replace when the problems occur.

How to apply that knowledge in real life!

Depend on the situation and industry; I can apply those strategies to achieve my goals with shortest times, lowest costs, optimal of my resources available. To become a good manager, it is not easy, but it is not impossible, we need to have a large knowledge and combine them to make right decision at right time.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Project Network

We have two methods to describe the project network: AON (activity on node) and AOA (activity on arrow).

AOA method: we use the arrows to describe the project’s activities, each activity have start point and finish point. The end point can be finish point of that activity, also is start point or end point of one or others activities. From the AOA network we also know the duration of each activity.

AON method describes the activities very clearly on the nodes. Form the AON network we know the names and durations of all activities of the project. AON network have two ways to show times:

Forward Pass-Early times start from the first project’s activity (left hand side) though the network to the last project’s activity (right hand side); the forward pass shows to us the early start time and early finish of each activity.

Backward Pass-Latest times start with the last project activity on the network though the network to the first project’s activity. The backward pass shows to us the last start and last finish of each activity of the project.

I will apply those strategies to design and manage my company’s project in the future.

Based on the critical path we can analyze the relationship between activities, such as Finish to Start relationship, Finish to Finish, Start to Finish and Combination Relationship.

In construction company, times very important and have impact directly to the cost and resource of the construction.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Midterm summary

Firstly, we distinguished between projects and routine works; what different between program and project. Why the organization need to do the projects and how to manage them.

Secondly, we analyzed the strategy and mission of organization. We need to integrate between projects and strategy to achieve the mission of organization. Every project should contribute to the organization’s strategy. Every project must have profits to project investor or benefit for public.

Thirdly, we identified the structure and culture of organization and project; analyze the relationships between structure and culture.

Fourthly, we defined the project, analyze the scope of the project, and design the WBS of the project.

Fifthly, based on the scope and WBS we estimate time, cost, and resource for our project. We analyzed the relationship between cost, time and resource. How to reduce time, How to use optimal resources, How to reduce cost

Last two weeks, we went to the new step: that is design the project networks.
What is the project network?
The project network is an implement to control all activities of the project. The project network is developed from the project’s WBS. From the WBS we estimate times, costs and resources for each activity and the whole project. The project network integrates and describes more details of all activities of the project such as: From the project network the manager know the start and finish time of each activity, which one can be priority to complete early, which one must finish before starting the next. From the project network the manager also know the earliest and latest finish time of that project.

Why do we need the project network?
We need the project network because we want to use optimal our time, cost and resource for that project. Each project (small or big) has the limit. Each project has its life cycle.
The project network very important, it help the project manager can control the project time, reduce the cost (direct and indirect cost), use optimal their resources (based on the demand of each activity and its duration the manager can transfer and use their machines, workers, equipments, etc. with highest productivity).
We have two methods to describe the project network: AON (activity on node) and AOA (activity on arrow).
AOA method: we use the arrows to describe the project’s activities, each activity have start point and finish point. The end point can be finish point of that activity, also is start point or end point of one or others activities.

The application: in my company (Construction Company) we always use the project network to control our projects, we call the project network is “bang tien do thi cong” which help our engineer set-up the jobs in the construction site and know exactly demand about resources (worker, machine, equipment, etc.) time, cost, every thing about the current projects. Based on that information, we have decision to transfer worker, machines between the construction sites or buy new equipments, or hire more workers, etc.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Estimating Project Times and Costs

What is Project’s Estimation?

The project’s Estimation means: build the assumptions, conditions and situations of the amount of cost, time, and resource for our projects in the future. Base on those estimations, we not only can make decisions and measure our tasks, but also we can assess our management jobs with that project.

The information from the estimation help to build the project and forecast the contingencys can be happen when we apply that project. From that estimation we have good preparation for any situation in the future.

What are requirements for Project’s Estimators?

The Estimators Who must have knowledge and experience in that field to estimate the amounts of cost, resource and time similar with the real amounts.