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Project management & custom

This period is noted for the rapid advancement of Internet. Project management software allows virtual teams to work on a joint task from any geographic location. For example, Microsoft Office Groove has all the necessary functions to solve any business problem. The functions of this program include document collaboration tools, threaded discussions, meeting tool, calendar tool, custom forms to collect information from all project members, presence awareness, alerts to give notice when files and information change, and workspace chat.

Together with standard workplace, Microsoft Office Groove has an option of creating workspace...

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...s customized for a specific type of project need. However, theoretical innovations in this sphere also continue. Recently, there has been differentiation between operational management (management of all routine tasks) and strategic management (elaboration of a company’s mission and vision). Strategic management is an element of all organizations and represents an essential avenue to thriving corporate operations. Strategic management is comprised of nine critical tasks: 1. Formulate the company’s mission;

2. Conduct an analysis that reflects the company’s internal conditions and capabilities; 3. Assess the company’s external environment; 4. Analyze the company’s options by matching its resources with the external environment; 5. Identify the most desirable options by evaluating each option in light of the company’s mission; 6. Select a set of long-term objectives and grand strategies that will achieve the most desirable options; 7. Develop annual objectives and short-term strategies that are compatible with the selected set of long-term objectives and grand strategies;

8. Implement strategic choices by means of budgeted resource allocations; 9. Evaluate the success of the strategic process as an input for future decision making (Pearce & Robinson, 2004). At the same time, there is ongoing elaboration of historically used techniques. While task analysis was one of the first project management techniques used, there have been advances in the classification of task analysis approaches. There are different classifications of task analysis techniques.

One classification, as suggested by Embrey (2000), divides the general methods of task analysis into Action Oriented (Hierarchical Task Analysis, Operator Action Event Trees, Decision/Action Flow Diagrams) and Cognitive Techniques (Critical Action and Decision Evaluation Technique, Influence Modelling and Assessment Systems). Presently, project management has become a well-developed and diverse system of integrated theories and approaches. The most widely used tool that assists in creating a detailed, controllable, and measurable action plan is SOSTAC, developed in the 1990s by Paul R. Smith.

The elements of the SOSTAC Model include Situation Analysis, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Action, and Control. Situation Analysis answers the question ‘Where are we now? ’ with particular attention to the company’s performance, distinctive competitive marketing advantages, market segmentation, customer profile, channels for communication and distribution, and possible uncontrollable events or trends that may affect business operations. Objectives encompass an answer to the question ‘Where do we want to go? ’ in the light of examining Business Mission, Business Objectives, Marketing Objectives, and Marketing Communication Objectives.

Strategy section answers the question ‘How do we get there? ’ focusing on Segmentation, Targeting, and Positioning. Tactics answer the question ‘What tools do we use to implement the strategy? ’ and defines Communication Tools to be used, the ways to use these tools, messages that the company wants to communicate, consistency across different tools and messages, and necessary resources or budgets. Action Plan for each tool or tactic specifies persons/entities in charge for implementing every action, timeline for implementation, resource allocation for each action, and key performance measurements.

Control section concludes the plan with answering the question ‘How do we track our progress and know when we have achieved our goals? ’ It is of paramount importance to monitor the progress, since if there is a possibility of a failure to achieve strategic objectives, the company should carefully reconsider its goals and tactics. In order to monitor progress, it is necessary to compare planned performance with actual performance, and calculate variance, i. e. difference in the levels of planned and actual performance.

Control section should encompass an examination of whether performance measurements relate to objectives, persons/entities responsible for measurement, frequency of measurement, resources for measurement, review of measurements, and actions on variance (BSA Marketing 2008). The latest innovation in the field of project management is Total quality management (TQM). It is a management philosophy that focuses on embedding the principles of quality and commitment of all company’s members to long-term success through customer satisfaction and corporate citizenship.

This practice is defined by the UK Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (2000) as ‘a way of managing people and business processes to ensure complete customer satisfaction at every stage, internally and externally’ (p. 1). Under TQM, stakeholders’ needs are met without violating ethical norms and rules. The foundations of TQM include customer-focused organization, leadership, employee involvement, process approach, system approach to management, continual improvement, factual approach to decision making, and mutually beneficial supplier relationships (Chartered Quality Institute, 2008).

The key focus of this approach is on producing quality goods or delivering satisfactory services on the first try rather than correcting mistakes. In order to implement TQM, changes have to be made to people, processes and systems of an organization. These changes encompass commitment to quality among both leaders and employees, communication of the quality message, and creating a culture of TQM in an organization. Quality is defined as comprising ‘performance, appearance, availability, delivery, reliability, maintainability, cost effectiveness and price’ (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, 2000, p. 2).

Easton and Sherry (1998) suggest that TQM is based on the principles of process focus (including process definition, process management, and process improvement); systematic improvement (cycle-time reduction, cost reduction, and prevention-based orientation); companywide emphasis (quality is a central concept for all functions of an organization, including product development and business support processes); customer focus (encompassing lead-time reduction, on-time delivery, field and technical support, integrating customer information into management system, involving customer into planning and product development); management-by-fact (decision-making on the basis of objective data by deployment and tracking of metrics); employee participation and development (employee empowerment and organizational learning); cross-functional management (enhanced focus on processes that cross several functions); supplier performance and supplier relationships (supplier capabilities, supplier improvement, and supplier involvement and integration); and recognition of TQM as a critical competitive strategy (TQM becoming a concern of employees at all levels). Achieving quality starts with a research into customers’ needs and expectations. An organization should clearly identify its internal and external customers and measure its own ability to meet their expectations. If this ability turns out to be insufficient, the organization should actively seek ways to enhance it.

The organization should also develop a system of monitoring changes in customers’ needs and expectations. Every customer-supplier interaction should be a part of a quality chain, in which all members demonstrate a straight-out commitment to quality. Additionally, TQM requires leaders to have a strategic vision and to be able to communicate it to the entire workforce. Leaders who do not give clear direction constitute a prevalent case of decreased efficiency and quality. Moreover, competitive positioning should be understood and acted upon. Reactive responses to market moves should be given up in favor of a proactive position. The unproductive thinking that a level of defects or errors is inevitable should be eliminated.

Large amounts of wasted effort and energy in organization should be reduced to minimum. Benefit of all stakeholders should become a priority. Achieving TQM requires an organization to function in a well-coordinated and cooperative manner. Interdepartmental rivalry and hostility should be solved and prevented in the future. In general, the focus of TQM is on prevention and not correction of mistakes and misunderstandings. Senior management should define and communicate corporate beliefs, values and objectives, act as role models in achieving TQM, and encourage effective employee participation. Supervising and training, teamwork and system thinking and can ensure success of TQM implementation.

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