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Web-Based Project Management and Project Selection
The five factors that affect a project are generally classified as scope, time, cost, risk, and quality. An analysis of these five categories will guide the completion of the project. However, they weave in and out of each other so frequently that it is often difficult to observe each category uniquely or objectively. That said, I would suggest that there are three other factors within these categories when it comes to choosing a project. Adapted from the book An Introduction to Project Management, author Kathy Schwalbe explains that a “method of selecting projects is based on their response to problems, opportunities, or directives” (56). These are the first factors that arise in the selection of a new project. These three elements are especially important in today’s web-based project management world, where businesses are faced with problems, opportunities and directives at an almost instantaneous pace. Below, I want to explore these three components of project selection, specifically as they relate to web-based project management.
From problem to project
First, a project may be selected because of a problem facing the business. The problem is then addressed in terms of the five elements of project constraints as addressed above. In her book, Schwalbe gives an example of a problem. She writes, “Problems are undesirable conditions that prevent an organization from achieving its goals. These problems may be present or anticipated. For example, if a bridge in a large city collapses, the problem must be addressed as soon as possible. If a bridge requires repairs to prevent collapse, known to exist, a project to take care of it should be started soon” (56). In other words, Schwalbe suggests that the bigger the problem, the more important the project. When a problem is solved and a project is selected, other factors are taken into consideration.
With web-based project management, solving problems is much easier and moving from problem to project is more efficient. For one, the problem is communicated faster. Secondly, project details, documents etc. Stored on a single web-based all-accessible system, project managers can collaborate with each other, provide feedback, and always know what resources are available. In addition, the executive level can see the company’s problems as a whole and make more informed decisions.
Project from opportunity
Second, a project may be selected as a business opportunity arises. Schwalbe writes that “an opportunity is an opportunity to improve an organization. For example, a company can improve its website to attract more visitors to the site” (56). When an opportunity arises in which a project is created, the scope, time, cost, etc. of the project are analyzed.
Now, opportunity may seem like an obvious reason to choose a project, but because companies face different situations and/or offer different services, they also differ in what motivates new projects. For example, a road construction company might have a division that focuses on filling potholes, while a housing company focuses on acquiring new land parcels. One chooses projects based on problems while the other chooses projects based on opportunities.
With web-based project management, opportunities can be maximized to their maximum potential. An example of this is the opportunity for a business to go international. Under regular (web-based) project management, going international would be a series of fewer opportunities and probably bigger problems. However, with web-based project management, it grows into a greater opportunity. Differences such as language, currency and geography can be overcome. Teams can collaborate across borders and oceans with a single web-based all-accessible system.
The most important thing when addressing opportunities in web-based project management is that the network itself creates more opportunities. Similar to social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, companies using web-based project management can connect to the collective intelligence of their workforce and initiate interaction, collaboration and communication at such a speed that new opportunities for projects can emerge daily.
Directive to project
Directions are a less obvious factor in project selection, but they can be just as important. Schwalbe explains that “directives are new requirements imposed by management, government, or some external influence.” (56). Many companies may find this aspect of project selection boring, frustrating, or even debilitating. A housing company is once again a good example. New zoning laws can affect plans for new development, which can significantly reduce a construction company’s productivity. Road, power and sewage facilities may require new features that limit the potential of new lots in the development. With this directive, it may be necessary to select a new project – or at least redirect the current one.
As I mentioned above, directives can hinder or frustrate a company, and with a web-based project management system, the difficulties remain unchanged. For a home building company, zoning laws may not be affected. That said, one of the best benefits that web-based project management offers is project initiation, planning, and completion. After all, no one wants to be stuck in a mess of government directives for too long.
In today’s business world, web-based project management is the best solution for solving problems, opportunities and directives. Being the first factor leading to project selection, these factors work most effectively through web-based systems. Once these stages of selection are established, success depends on the proper balance of those other factors—scope, time, cost, risk, and quality. The connectivity provided by online communication is essential to compete with today’s thousands of companies using web-based project management.
Resource: Introduction to Project Management: With Brief Guides to Microsoft Project 2007 and @Tasks. 3rd ed. Minneapolis: Cathy Schwalbe, LLC, 2010. Print.
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