A. What do you think makes a good project manager (PM)? Listen to two project managers talking about the qualities of a PM and complete this summary using between one and four words in each gap.
A project manager essentially needs good interpersonal skills. He/She should clarify people’s …………. (1), but avoid …………. (2) and include all members of the team in the ………… (3). A successful PM also knows how to …………. (4) tasks to different people, is excellent at …………. (5), is detail-focused, but is also able to stand back and see the …………. (6). Organisational skills and …………. (7) the team are key, as is the ability to ensure everyone fully understands the …………. (8).
1. roles (in the team)
2. acting like a boss / giving orders
3. decision-making process
6. big/whole picture
8. goals/aims (of the project)
B. Match the elements of a project plan in the box to the descriptions below and on the opposite page. Two are given.
|Aim of the project Dependencies Management structure Milestones Outputs Quality criteria Resources Risks Scheduling Tolerances|
1. …………….: What do you want to do or produce (e.g. upgrade the IT structure in a department)?
2. …………….: What do you need to deliver in order to achieve your aim (e.g. a new software system or a new building)?
3. …………….: The level of quality needs to be defined, together with the stakeholders.
4. …………….: These include staff, particular knowledge or skills, money and time. Some tasks can’t be hurried along by throwing more money at the problem, e.g. delivery times or the time needed for concrete to set on a building project.
5. …………….: How are you going to manage the work? Who will be the decision-makers for different types of work? How will you share progress on the project? How will the project manager report to the project sponsor(s)?
6. …………….: It makes sense to break up any project ·into discrete chunks, with a sensible deadline for each main task. On an IT project, this may include gathering requirements, tender writing, project tendering, contract negotiation, deployment and testing.
7. …………….: In terms of finance, these may be +/-5 per cent; in terms of time, +/-10 per cent, or in terms of quality, to what extent are you prepared to accept changes in quality?
8. …………….: What needs to happen before something else? These can sometimes be internal (under the project manager’s control) or external (beyond the project manager’s control).
9. …………….: What could go wrong? What could damage your ability to deliver? Is there anything you can do to avoid these?
10. …………….: This is the Gantt-style chart that many people visualise when a project plan is mentioned. In this way, you can describe what you can expect to happen when. It will provide a general overview of the project. But you cannot make a perfect one.
1. Aim of the project
3. Quality criteria
5. Management structure
C. Tom Taylor is an experienced project manager and a vice-president of the Association for Project Management. Listen to him talking about successful projects and answer these questions.
1. How does Tom Taylor define a successful project?
2. What two examples of projects does he give?
3. What could be the possible criteria for the success of these projects?
1. Tom Taylor says a successful project is one that is on time, on budget and to performance, but is often something else. (Other people also use the terms to scope or to quality.)
2. A wedding and a power station
3. A wedding: to be on time, on budget, to performance: they get married – but it is not enough. The stakeholders/interested parties might have other criteria, e.g. We’d like a nice day, we’d like some nice photographs or a video, or we’d like everyone who should come to arrive.
A power station: to be on time, on budget, to performance, but also other criteria are important, such as, we’d like it to be safe, we’d like it to have minimum environmental impact and we’d like it to last for 50 years.
D. What do you think are the main challenges for project managers today? Listen to the second part of the interview and tick the six issues that Tom Taylor mentions.
a) choosing the right project team
b) associates not delivering on time
c) keeping within the budget
d) adapting to change
e) delivering on time throughout the project
f) environmental concerns
g) changing demands of the client
h) knowing how to manage people i) understanding value for money
j) making the most of technology
Tom Taylor mentions the following issues:
c) tight budgets
i) value for money requirements
e) needing things to be delivered on time, maybe not just at the end of the project but at stages during the project)
j) The best use of technology, technology appropriate to the project
f) sustainability, the environment and green issues
h) dealing with people … you can’t project-manage from behind a computer
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