Rules That Aren’t Made To Be Broken

I came across an article on the PMI web site titled “Three Timeless Project Management Rules”. I was interested in any possible takeaways I could apply to our field project in class. I was able to draw from each the author’s ideas, and apply them to our project to increase efficiency, and help drive a successful end result. The author mentions three rules I was able to apply to the project to potentially benefit the outcome:

1. The number of people connected to the project must aggressively be restricted.

Being a part of a team with seven members, I am quickly beginning to realize this is an essential rule. Currently we are collaborating in email form, due to conflicting work schedules and proximity to each other’s homes. Communication is becoming confusing and frustrating. We all have great ideas to contribute, but many are getting lost or jumbled in the chain of e-mails we have. Currently we have two threads, one with 45 e-mails, and another with 50. Going forward, I think we should assign specific tasks to certain people to limit crazy amounts of input, leading to a more direct and efficient method of collaboration. This also relates to our class discussion regarding selectively choosing who to “cc” or “bcc” on an e-mail, which could be aggressively applied in this case.

2. There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.

Luckily, we have a few required reports that are aiding our group in managing the work, including implementation plans, project proposals, and risk management exercises. From what experience I have so far, I would definitely agree with the statement that work should be recorded thoroughly. In our implementation plan we broke down each step into details, laying out a leader and support for each responsibility. We also added due dates to make sure the project was being executed on time.

3. There must be a monthly cost review covering not only what has been spent and committed, but also projected costs to the conclusion of the program.

Currently we have projected $70 out of pocket budget for our project, which translates to $10 per team member. Our charity has been kind enough to provide promotional advertisements and materials for the day of the event, and the church is donating tables and chairs to utilize during the sale. This has taken care of many of the potentially larger expenses. However it does increase risk in the event, because we are now dependent on these organizations to come through on their promises. Also, any other expenses will be absorbed by our group. Using this idea, I believe we should create a list of necessary supplies needed, and break down costs to make sure we are on budget. Upon purchasing, we should subtract that from our available budget, in order to keep track of what we have left

How do these rules apply to your field project right now? If you had to come up with essential rules for the field project, what would you choose?

Perceptions of Time in Project Management

I recently read an article on the PMI website titled “Adjusting to Team Time Warps“. The article addresses the issue of how people view time differently when managing their projects. This would be a particularly interesting issue to look at during the planning portion of project management process, when analyzing and formulating strategies to reach a given objective. Understanding each individual’s perspective on time could help prevent future conflict. It may also help anticipate the different needs of each party involved in the project management process.

So how do people “see time”? We are able to see from a cultural prospective, how each culture interprets time differently. For example, Western Europeans are focused on the future, and believe the present is just a means of ensuring a good future. Americans are very focused on the present, seeking immediate gains or results. However, Southern Europe, Asia, and Africa focus on the past, and as a result, feel the future is uncertain. These different perspectives of time can be important to acknowledge when managing a global project. In order to ensure everyone is on the same page, the project manager may need to emphasize important time related goals or deadlines to certain people in a different way. It is also important to be cognizant and respectful of the way other cultures think and feel about time. Someone from Asia may not feel the same sense of urgency of finishing the project on time, as someone from America might

However, I believe this idea of having different perceptions of time can be applied to all projects, even if it doesn’t appear you are dealing with a variety of cultures. Someone with a present focus may be more likely to take actions leading to immediate gratification, versus making decisions toward the betterment of the long term project. A good project manager should be able to identify individuals with this mentality, and coach them toward the desired outcome. This may also help to alleviate any personality conflicts that might have occurred among the team, because of they are stuck in this “time warp”.

I currently work for an industrial supply chain. We have multiple departments who handle the same customer order on any given day. I see issues occurring in different departments as a result of conflicting perceptions of time. For example, the Returns department handles customer orders that were sent out with incorrect material or had quantity discrepancies. This department has a focus on the past. They believe we should be taking our time to ensure we are completing orders correctly, and packing the material in a way that is appealing to the customer and prevents damage to the material. Doing so would eliminate many of the problems they face on a day to day basis. This conflicts with the shipping department who have a future focus on time. Shipping believes in finishing orders and loading the trucks for delivery as fast as possible to ensure each customer gets their shipment on time. Both of these views conflict with the department in charge of picking the orders, because they are focused on getting the material off the shelves and into shipping. They are not concerned with the process before the material arrive on the shelf, or what happens after it has been picked. The order pickers have a present focus.

Has anyone ever been a part of a team where perceptions of time have impacted a project’s processes or outcomes? How did you deal with any problems that may have come up?