1 Will project management work in all companies? Why or why not? Provide examples of companies or industries to support your answer.
Answer – Project management would be very useful to implement in companies that does their work as ‘projects’, where a project is defined as a well defined set of work with a start and finish date. However, for companies or industries that do their work on an ongoing continuous basis, and have a very functional focus, project management would not be the best approach to implement. Examples of this include companies like Johnson and Johnson that is into research and development of new medicines or industries like banks or insurance companies where majority of their operational work would be on a transactional basis interacting with customers. In both these examples project management would not work as the functional and business unit structures would help the companies bring in focus and expertise needed that is needed to do well. However, even within these companies, there might be need for project management in certain areas for instance of they are developing a new IT system or if they are planning for a new office building, which are some initiatives that can be taken up as projects.
2 Consider a project in which all project planning is performed by a group. After all planning is completed, including the program plan and schedule, a project manager is selected. Is there anything wrong with this arrangement?
Answer – The project manager is one of the key stakeholders for effectively tracking and implementing a project, and ideally he or she should be present right from the start of the project. If the project manager is not there right from the start of the project, he would not have a detailed and overall understanding of the objectives and scope of the project, and will take a lot of time to get the context of the project. Moreover, he would not be able to bring in his planning inputs and ‘own the project plan’ that would be key to him owning full responsibility of project delivery. In this case, as the project planning, schedule and other key aspects are already completed, the project manager is just being bought in to implement someone else’s ideas, which can result in sub optimal implementation and lack of ownership and full understanding of the project. Therefore, as per the right arrangement, the project manager should have been identified early and should have been involved throughout the planning process, as he would be the person who would be implementing and tracking it, and hence needs to be involved in these activities.
3 The director of project management calls you into his office and informs you that one of your fellow project managers had a severe heart attack midway through a project. You will be taking over his project, which is well behind schedule and overrunning costs. The director of project management then "orders" you to complete the project within time and cost. How do you propose to do it? Where do you start? Should you shut down the project to re-plan it?
Answer – Given the situation, I would agree to take up the project but would try and set realistic expectations with the director on what is possible and what is not. I would first try and take an assessment and analysis of the current state of the project, what are the key issues, how behind is the project on time and costs, and have a meeting with the team to discuss these. Post this, I would come up with an assessment on current state and a plan how the project can be brought on track. It is possible that additional resources and cost may be needed to bring it on track and to minimize impact on project objectives. I would then have a meeting with the director, to discuss the plan, take his inputs, approvals if any on things I may need and then implement the project. I would not shut down the project to re plan it, as it might lead to further delays, but I would give priority to