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Project Management 101

Muhammad Husayn BBA

It is final year and soon I m going to graduate. I m fond of doing interesting and challenging projects. But there are no projects, like the ones in final year. The toughest projects, deadlines and evaluations. This year I was engaged in two or more difficult projects. To name a few, I was working my research on `a test of service quality: Careem V Uber,` Abudawood Pakistan Distribution and Channel Management, Salient Features of Pakistan Trade Policy, Afroze Textile and my pet entrepreneurial project- Academic Career Excellence.

Muhammad Hussain Universe

All these projects were close to my heart and origins, As Careem belongs to Middle East, and Abudawood origins from city of my origins: Jeddah, KSA. ( so I have spent two decades in Middle East) and then I got study how Trade Policy in my own country works. Afroze Textile main plant is nearby my location. ACE venture is my own brainchild to help students whenever I can by resume crafts, speaker sessions and further project assists. These projects, were not related to my homelands, but I loved the implementation and learning, and the way the were challenging me. Plus, the relevance of the impact of these projects on my life and daily lives of alot of people I have lived with. I m a frequent customer of Careem and Uber, and I use Pantene as far as I can remember and I have seen Abudawood flourish in KSA. How macro economic conditions are affecting Pakistan's imports and export were so dynamic and challenges of Pakistan textile industry were toughening up more than ever.

Muhammad Husayn Research porject Careem V Uber

A temporary endeavor undertaken that produces unique product, service or result, is called a project. A project has a unique purpose, it is time bound: has fixed start and end date. It is not repetitive. A project has triple constraints: time, cost, and quality. There are 10 key knowledge areas:

1. Time Mgt

2. Cost Mgt

3. Scope Mgt

4. Quality Mgt

5. Integration

6. HRM

7. Communications

8. Procurement

9. Stakeholder Mgt

10. Risk Mgt

The project management process involves: initiation-> planning->execution->monitoring & control-> closing. Firstly Project consists of a Project Charter- that is an official declaration and existence of a project set up by the project manager. This involves signing off by stakeholders, setting project objectives, project measurement criteria, the approaches and finally the project management team. That’s all the project management basics.

Now coming to the purpose of this blog. How I got to implement project management in real life and what were my key findings in these projects within a semester deadline. I will not be specific on what I did in any my projects and I don’t intent discuss my team mates or other people involved. However, I am presenting this experience as a case to be used for benefitting purpose. Truly, I appreciate the project management profession and I see the value of having the best project managers for businesses.

From my experience: a project manager is the key. The credibility of that manager is what constitutes the authenticity of the project. A project manager must be 100% reliable in time of need, to work authentically and meet project deadlines. A project manager has to have assurance and credibility. This is because this person is solely responsible for project failure. All blame is to be assigned to the project manager. If a project is success: there could varied factors of success, the resources, the team, externalities, support and more. But if a project is failed, it is the failure of management by a project manager. Full stop.

To cater this difficult responsibility, a project manager has to have strong leadership skills too. The ability to take risks, hindsight for future pitfalls, self-accountability and self-responsibility. Alertness , conscientiousness and pro-activeness. A PM should be an authentic leader. Credible and if all else fails, responsible. For people and team to trust a PM, PM has to have values and vision. This maynot be written down, but PM is selected on past performance and what basically a PM stands for. Values and Vision. If people want to do business with a PM or join a project team, the leadership values and vision of a PM are criteria for decision.

A PM leadership is varied. If its directive, it will be observed PM shouting, making own decisions and scolding the team and only giving directions.

It could be the charismatic type, here the PM is expert in communications, Public Relations, interpersonal skills, chit chat and public speaking. But when it comes to work, PM breaks down at pressure, PM lacks technical expertise. PM is self-obsessed and is busy with self-praise. PM is careless of decision making and leaves the decision on the team. And takes the credit all of only success on the self.

If the PM leadership is Transformation- the PM here is visionary, reliable, referent power and expert power, but trusts the team more than anything else. The PM will be alert and proactive, take all the risk, take all the problems and pressure, but will give all the support, knowledge, expertise, info and resources, ideas, training and positives to the team. The PM is a capable decision maker and a believer of democracy, brainstorming and accepts team decision making. So when the team works, there are two units working, the PM and the team and these two units working together bring about better results.

Now comes the second key ingredient of a project- the project team. A PM has to select team carefully and critically. I could have selected teams based on friendships. That would definitely lead to failure. Sometimes, this is the bag friendships that a person bears, costs the projects. One of project team was solely based of friends, that project suffered a lot. One of my project team: I recruited the best personnel for the job and that team made me proud. Sometimes, that team you get, you have to work with them. This when you have no other option but to coaching and training, this team may be not be as strong as top talent recruitment, but this team is now purely made up on PM`s training and leadership.

Teamwork is the key. A PM has to take the team as a whole. There are no playing favourites here. There is no focusing on key team players and ignoring the weak ones. A team has to be dealt as one. Everyone has to be on the same page. Hence project meetings are must. A collaborative discussion and democratic assignment of brainstormed tasks keep all the members in synergy. A PM has to also ensure that are no sub-units within the team that create friction. This problem could lead to a catastrophe. A mutiny in project team could lead to failure and loss of credibility. A team should always be in alignment with the PM be open and once have agreed to work with a particular PM , has to trust PM’s decision and the other team members selected by the PM. A team was formed by the PM in the first place and all the members were selected or agreed to join the PM on basis of PM credibility and vision. So if there are conflicts between team members, team members should remember, PM selected each of them for a purpose and if the team believes in PM, they will have to accept other team members on the relationship and common belief of the PM vision. Stay united on PM and vision. This can resolve maximum conflicts.

A PM should also take care on internal as well as external politics. There are forces against the project. PM should absorb those obstructions and save the team from them. Similarly, being proactive and alert, a PM should always have a back up plan. A PM has to have trust relationship with the team, support them and coach them. But if anything fails, a back plan has to be there. After all, a PM is responsible for any failure. Being a project manager is about projects, pressures, and performance. A PM should be ready to make trade off for his loss and the success of project and the team.

A PM should also be ready for a D. There will be Disappointments, Disagreements, Discord, Disrespect and yet there has to be a project Delivery on a Deadline. Sometimes, a team member would be away and someone responsible will have to cover the work(PM). Sometimes, a PM will be away but PM must monitor others and complete self related task. In some cases, there could be betrayal- dissemination of project info by someone. A PM may have to be ready to travel and carry some dead weight. At times, even budget constraint creates hurdles for PM, but the team should have the resources, the project manager has to deal with the budget and not the team. A PM select a talent, but that talent may create conflicts or in some case maybe the expected talent was incapable. This is PM's responsibility, once a decision is made, corrective action and carry forward. Embrace failures, donot pass it to team or affect the project, in hard times, everyone ultimately looks to the project leader, at that PM has to stand firm and carry forward.

Lastly, but not the least, a PM is not all about just leading and directing. A PM has to be on the ground and build up the ground work has have overall knowledge and atleast some expertise. If there is none, a PM should be a forever learner. A PM should always be ready for extra work required for the project completion, that could be travelling to far places, following a Permanent Journey Plan, talking to a lot of drivers and people, working on the ground, the extra work. A PM`s actions and determination leads the team to a successful project.

NB: These are last semester- fall 2017, journey lessons. Nothing mentioned is specific to anyone, except me.

PM= Project Manager.

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