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Leadership Skills in Project Management

Project management refers to the process through which an organization embarks on the creation of a new and unique product or service. In essence, it is the process through which such an organization uses in attaining specific end results in their operations within the stipulated time frame. In this context, the process of project management includes a set of techniques, tools and tasks that are used to ensure that the goals of a project are achieved and in the expected time duration. Project management consists of carefully planned and well organized efforts by the project manager or management team to attain a one time effort goal. . It involves the development of well thought out project plans inclusive of well defined goals and objectives of the project, means of achieving the expected goals, the resources needed and the budgets involved and the expected time frame.

Moreover, project management also includes the implementation of project plan through careful controls in order to fully realize the intended results. In essence, the process of project management is usually undertaken through various major phases which include planning, implementation and feasibility study. In addition, support and maintenance of the completed project forms a major phase in

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the process of project management. The main challenge of project management and which the project manager or team needs to be more conscious with is to ensure that are the goals of the project are achieved in light of the major constraints facing the project. These constraints include the time frame of project completion, the overall cost of overseeing project completion and implementation of the project, the quality of the expected outcome and the scope to be covered, the cost

In essence, the idea behind project management is to ensure that the project is carried through to the end or through the entire life cycle. This project management life cycle have five major phases that include the initiation of the project, project planning, execution of the project, monitoring and controlling the project and finally project closing.

All the above named stages of the project management process requires that the management team or simply the project manager exercise flexibility in the leadership styles and skills adopted in order to ensure a smooth sailing of the project management and the project itself. Such skills and styles will help the project manager to effectively control all the processes and tasks involved in project execution and to properly control and handle all the factors and variables in the project environment.

In project management, the management process groups make use of nine knowledge areas which include integration management, time management, procurement management, scope management and communication management. Others include cost management, quality management, risk management and human resource management.

The individual or the team charged with the role of managing the project are expected to make use of all this key areas and to properly engage their skills and profession in an effort to ensure that the project is completed with the stipulated time period and that the expected quantifiable deliverable is delivered not only in time but with the expected quality.

The first phase of the project is the initiation stage and it is at this stage that the objective and goals of the project are defined. In this stage, the project manager should undertake all the necessary feasibility studies, appoint the team that will be involved in the execution of the project, set up all the necessary project offices and review the overall situation of the phase. This will help in avoiding the extension of mistakes to the second phase of the project. In this context, the manager is required to use his or her skills in developing a project charter that outlines the characteristics of the project, the aims and goals of undertaking the project, the resources needed and a brief outline of how the expected quantifiable deliverable is expected to be achieved. The charter should contain all the strategic reasons for the project, the deliverables of the project, the names and signs of the involved manager and should have authorization for the project manager to complete the project through the use and utilization of the available organizational resources. The manager should properly state the scope of the project and in this regard, he should outline the area covered by the project, whether long term or short term, and the expected time period within which the project should be completed and in operation.

The first stage also requires the manager to develop the management plan which he or she expects to use in the management of the project and the various management strategies that he/she expects to employ.

This will thus require the manager to develop proper control documentation of the project and to have all the necessary drawing documented and placed together to ensure the availability of all the information needed in controlling the project. In this context, there should be procession of all the activities to be involved within the plan of the project and the overall process of project execution (Hans & Anders, 1999. pp. 101).

The manager therefore based on all the available information especially the one collected through the feasibility studies carried out should make sure that all the factors and variables in the project environment are put in consideration and that measures are put in place to deal with them throughout all the other phases of the project. Feasibility studies will help the manager to ensure that the overall project plan is flexible enough to ensure that any changes in the future will not compromise the process of project execution.

The second phase of project life cycle is the execution stage and it is this phase that requires the most attention of the project manager if the goals of the project are to be achieved and if quality is to be integrated in the final deliverable. The manager is required here to use skill and knowledge that are up to standards in order to ensure that all the various activities of the project are well integrated, that the scope of the project is well attended to and that there is proper time management to ensure that the project is completed in the expected time period. In this regard, this phase requires the development of a project plan given the goals, objectives and the information available both from the feasibility studies carried out and also through the available information in the project environment (Terry, 2002. pp. 45).

This phase also requires that the manager develop a proper and well informed resource plan based on the resource required to complete the project and inclusive of both the material and human resources. In this context, the manager should ensure that all the resources stipulated in the charter are well thought out and he should also include in the resource plan at which stage of project execution each resource will required and also how it will be required. For flexibility purposes, the manager should also be conscious of the estimated cost of each project as this will help in development of a financial plan. In this regard, the manager is also required to develop a financial plan that entails the cost of all the resources needed to complete the project within the given time. In addition the manager is supposed to develop quality plan that outlines the procedures and processes that will be used to ensure that quality in the quantifiable deliverable is achieved. The plan should include all those processes that are to be used to ensure that rework is minimized besides the minimization of the systems failure and include the mechanisms that are to be adopted to ensure that there is prevention of recurrence of problems, there is effective publication and enforcement of the laws and standards governing the project environment and to ensure that the project achieve the participation of the clients in the overall process of quality management. In this regard, the manager is required to perform project quality management through the employment of skills and knowledge possessed to ensure that quality is maintained in the whole process of project execution.

In this regard, quality planning process requires the application of various tools and techniques in the different application areas and this includes cost benefit analysis skills that helps in defining the trade off between the quality cost and the returns associated with that quality, benchmarking which include the use of planned or actual project practices within or outside the project environment in quality planning and in measuring the performance. Another technique that the manager can apply is that of designing experiments in an effort to determine the factors influencing the various variables of the product under development. All this will help in optimizing the inputs and in providing a framework through which all the important factors can be systematically changed rather than changing one at a time. It will also help in providing relevant information regarding the optimal conditions combination that can be used in the implementation of the project. The manager can also apply skills in cost of quality analysis that helps in reducing the cost of reworks, reviews and nonconformance to the requirements of the client (Hans & Anders, 1999. pp. 102).

Moreover, the manager is required to develop a communication plan detailing how he expects to manage the communication processes in the project environment giving the means and the channels through which such communication will be managed. In this context, effective communication skills are important if the manager is going to achieve an efficient communication between himself and the stakeholders and also the rest of the team project. . There are various processes under project communication management include communication planning, distribution of relevant information, performance planning and administrative closure. All these processes require the manager to exercise skills and knowledge in communication field otherwise the entire process of project execution will be compromised (Badiru,1996. pp. 67).

In this regard, the process of communication planning involves determining the communication and information needs of a client, when such information is needed and the channels through which the information is to be given. The manager should be aware of the various inputs in the process of communication planning including the communication requirements and the communication technology available. In addition, he can make the use of constraints that tend to limit the options and the assumptions of the management team and in this context, those factors that will be considered true or certain in the planning process. All this should be done in conjunction with the analysis done in an effort to obtain information about the communication needs of the client. In communication planning, the manager should also ensure that there are effective processes which will enable proper distribution of information and availing of the needed information to the client and the project team in a timely manner to avoid inconveniences in the process of project management.

The manager is also required to establish a risk plan entailing the measures which will be used in dealing with the foreseeable and unforeseeable risks in the project management. Such measures would include mitigation and risk transfer. Finally, it is also at this phase that the project manager should develop a procurement plan that encompasses the methods which will be used in procuring resources from various vendors and how such vendor will be selected. It is here that the manager is supposed to use skills and acquired knowledge in the field of project management to create tenders to be used in contracting the suppliers of all the resources needed (Terry, 2002. pp.56).

Once the planning phase is completed, the next phase is that of project execution. Though the longest phase in the life cycle of the project, it can be easy to deal with if proper planning was done in the previous phase. The execution phase involves the building up of physical quantifiable deliverables that will be presented to the client for signoff. It is at this phase that the manager is required to employ skills and knowledge based on the nine key knowledge areas of project management. Time management, risk management, quality management, integration management, scope management, procurement management, cost management and human resources management besides communication management lies under this phase of project cycle. In project execution, the manager should exercise care and flexibility in the management process to ensure that all the plans are properly executed. This will also ensure that difficulties arising from changes in any of the plans are met with the required counter measures. Flexibility in the styles and skills adopted by the project manager will help in monitoring and controlling the range of management skills involved in this phase and in the end, it will determine the achievement of the quantifiable deliverable (Badiru,1996. pp. 70).

The last and final phase of the project cycle is that of project closure where the manager is required to formally close the project, report on the overall success of the project and present to the client the quantifiable deliverable. As such, this will include releasing the staff involved, cancellation of the contracts with the suppliers and reporting to the client about the closure of the project. All this having been done, a post implementation review must be done to establish the success of the project and lessons to be learned (Hans & Anders,1999. pp. 104).

In conclusion the manager of any project be it an individual or a collective team should ensure that flexibility in the skills adopted when managing a given project is maintained so that there is quality in the quantifiable deliverable and that there is satisfaction of all the parties involved. The skills and knowledge applied will determine whether the project is achieved in time and whether all the objectives of the project are achieved.

References:

Badiru Adedeji, 1996. Quantitative Models for Project Planning, Scheduling and Control. Quorum Books, Westport City. pp. 67, 70

Hans Wirdenius & Anders Soderholm, 1999. Neo-Industrial Organisation: Renewal by Action and Knowledge Formation in a Project-Intensive Economy. Routledge, London. pp. 101, 102, 104

Terry Horne, 2002. Managing Public Services-Implementing Changes: A Thoughtful Approach to the Practice of Management. Routledge, London. pp. 45, 56

 

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