Team 3: Post Project Audit
The objective of this project was to organize a garage sale as a means to raise funds for a non-profit organization, as well as soliciting additional donations online through YouCaring. Our team coordinated the logistical details to arrange the event, solicited donations, and ran the sale on the day of the event, July 20, 2013. The proceeds went to Educational Assistance Ltd (EAL), a 501© (3) non-profit organization that creates college scholarship for needy students from donated excess inventory. Additionally, EAL collects excess inventory by placing inventory bins in accredited colleges and universities.
Our main objective was to raise as much money as possible for EAL through a successful garage sale. One of the success factors for our team was implementing such a tedious project in such a short span of time. The garage sale organized by us included items that our friends and family had donated. So, a lot of time and effort was spent on picking up items from their place and storing them in ours and eventually moving them to Lane’s place where we had the garage sale. A lot of planning and organizing and sorting work happened before the actual day of the sale. On the day of sale, we had at least 40 families that attended the garage sale and bought different items. This was accomplished through advertising on Craig’s List, the local newspaper and by putting up signs in the neighborhood. We also made sure we were always greeting our customers and answering their questions. Since our objective was to make money, we did not turn down a lot of customers if they wanted a lower price on a product. We encouraged them to negotiate and tried to make the sale as every dollar that we made was going towards tuition and expenses of a needy student.
Garage sale is a good idea in terms of raising money. We raised a total of $625, however, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into planning and having a garage successful garage sale. As a team, if we had put in the same amount of time and efforts into a different project, we would have definitely raised more money for the nonprofit organization. So, it might be better for future teams to not pick garage sale as a project for raising money.
One of our biggest takeaways was in the area of communication. While we did a good job dividing the tasks in the early going so everyone knew what they would be responsible for, there were still a number of decisions that needed to be made along the way. Given the busyness of everyone’s schedule, our primary mode of communication was e-mail. It was difficult at times to keep track of the several e-mail threads that could be going on simultaneously. Teams communicating this way in the future may be best served by limiting the number of active threads and clearly titling each subject line to help people find the information they’re looking for in a previous e-mail.
The importance of managing the mindset of the people attending the event was another lesson we learned. People come to a garage sale to be thrifty so while a number of people made donations to EAL at the event they were usually only a dollar or two. It’s probably better to do a “fun” event where people are in a good mood and come expecting to donate (or be charged) a larger amount of money.
Global projects are more complex in nature than local project because additional factors are added to it, such as time zone differences, cultural differences, language differences and geographical distance differences. Distance is one of the major factors making global project complex. Distance has direct impact of communications. Lack of communication is one of the major reasons for PM failure. Distance also affects coordination and it does increases the amount of misunderstanding among project team members.
Geographical distance differences have a direct relationship with time zone differences especially in the East west direction. The further the distance the bigger the time zone differences. Time zone difference affects synchronous communication significantly. Project members therefore have to rely more on asynchronous communications which add extra delay to the project time. Asynchronous has it own advantages especially when there is a language barrier.
Language and cultural difference also goes hand in hand. However there are times two geographically separated teams will have similar culture but difference language. A good example will be Brazil and Mexico. In Brazil the national language is Portuguese while in Mexico the language is Spanish. However, both countries have very similar culture. Both countries are heavily influenced by the catholic religion, they both love music and entertainment and soccer is a more than a religion in both countries. However, on a global project involving the two countries language difference still come out. The language difference complexity is worse in situations when the there is no relationship between the languages of the various teams on the project such as English and Chinese. In these situations the language barrier is very pronounced. Synchronous communication is not helpful at all and the project members have to rely primarily on asynchronous communications. For global projects to be successful multiple means of communications are needed so taking synchronous communications out of the project will result in additional delay especially with feedback and clarification of confusing issues.
Cultural issues are much larger than language issues. Cultural issues affect many things such as believes, attitude, values, morals, ethics etc. What is ethical in one culture might be consider unethical in another. A good example is drinking or dressing. The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 but 21 in the US. Bill Young the past president of AIPM (Australian Institute of Project Management) noted in (reference 5) that “50% of joint-venture project between Western companies and Chinese companies fail”. He then said understanding the cultural differences is one of the keys to the success global project not just between Australian and China.
If global projects are more complex than co-located projects why are companies doing global projects. In (reference 4) a report by pwc they noted that most financial institutions struggle with the effective execution of large, complex global initiatives. Others can comment on why global projects and how global projects can be successful today.
Mobile Age – Take it or leave it.
One of the things I have noticed recently is how everything is shifting to mobile. The younger generations don’t even know how to use any other device to communicate outside their cell phone or other hand held devices. Base on a post by Stephen Pierzchala on January 15, 2013, titled Mobile Commerce Has Come of Age. Are You Ready? It is obvious that there is a paradigm shift to mobile devices for personal use and commerce. Which made me think if there will be more mobile projects targeting mobile users of all ages. The mobile apps in the US have doubled in the past years. Stephen Pierzhala noted that “Mobile is the fastest-growing segment of the online commerce world”.
Figure 1. Figure 2
This fact is backed up the Global Association of Mobiles companies (GMSA). See the figure below. Universities lecture are available online. Many students are used to listening to class lectures on their mobile device. There are several factors leading to this growth. There are so many apps for mobile devices. Almost all major banks, insurance companies and supermarkets have a mobile app to buy products and/or services online.
The cultural shift to mobile life style is global in nature but not at the same rate globally. The US is leading the paradigm shift followed by Europe. In the 2013 report by GSMA (link 2 below) shows that mobile wireless data use per connection in the U.S. is significantly higher than in the EU. In 2013, Cisco projects U.S. customers will use nearly twice as much data per connection as customers in the EU. Figure 3 in this blog show how much data US mobile consumers are using compare to European mobile consumer.
The mobile space will continue to grow there are endless providers of mobile devices and services. One of the major problems is the quality of service. The mobile space quality of service varies from one provider to another, even within the US which has the highest rating globally. Mobile users in the US still complain about poor quality of service depending on where you are located. While the mobile industry has grown significantly especially with products such as I-Phone, I-pad, etc, there are still room for a lot of improvement. With respect to project management it is interesting to know which of the project management principles or philosophy will not work very well when developing mobile products, applications (apps), or services. I have seen many DePaul students especially the undergrad playing video games on their mobile devices. Which make me to also wonder the type of problems these mobile devices introduces to our society and what educational project will be needed to build awareness against the dangers it poses. I believe don’t text while driving is clearly established as an example. ATT has developed an app to solve this problem see reference 4.