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Summary

Teams are formed for different purposes. They differ in goals, duration, and form. Organizations are organized around work teams. Everyone is part of a work team. This is a formal construct with a leader and a reporting hierarchy. Roles and responsibilities are clearly documented, and performance is evaluated accordingly. The team leader will often make decisions and allocate work to team members although some work teams are self-managing to varying degrees. They can be collocated, virtual, or a combination of both. At times, organizations bring together teams to complete focused goals on a high-priority basis. These teams require formal project charters to identity scope, goals, deliverables, team members, sponsorship, resources, a schedule, and other relevant information. The charter is needed to avoid ambiguity of effort. These teams can be highly cross-functional depending on the project scope.

Recent studies show significant productivity increases with remote working, and there is a growing ability and increasing opportunities to work remotely and still relate to co-workers. Prior to forming a virtual project team, there are several important considerations. These are building trust, maintaining connections between team members, managing work, and eliminating barriers for doing remote work. It is important to build trust between remote workers and central teams; to this end, policies and procedures for the teams to work together must be well documented.

Not all teams are immediately successful. First, they move through a maturation process discussed earlier in this chapter. But there are potential barriers to high performance. Teams need rules of engagement and norms that govern how they will work. A project charter is a good start, and meetings must be facilitated to enable good decision making based on a full consideration of topics and then to move on to fact-based action. Full consideration implies that all member participate in meeting discussions and that the team is diverse with respect to ideas to avoid group- think. Facilitation also minimizes team conflicts and promotes mutual trust. Transparency is crucial for effective teams.

Projects have associated risks that must be identified, eliminated, mitigated, or managed depending on their likelihood of occurrence and impact. Effective project management organizes people and resources to ensure activities remain on schedule, within budget, and with minimal project risk. Using a Gantt chart to organize activities and their work tasks is important to show the sequence of activities and their work tasks that must be completed on the critical path to minimize the time for project completion. In addition to estimating work task duration, the milestone schedule is estimated to enable periodic stakeholder reviews. Project status is communicated to the right audience, in the right format, and with the right frequency.

Project management requires an attention to detail to enable a project manager to keep a project on schedule and within budget. Understanding details and using the methods discussed in this chapter help manage projects when conditions change. These methods are also incorporated into project management software. Software enables a team to create simulations of a project network’s activities and work tasks to analyze the impact of adding resources on the critical path. Alternatively, if a project’s activities are delayed, resources can be reallocated to the delayed activities to maintain the schedule. This is useful if a project can be completed ahead of schedule and incremental revenue is obtained that offsets the incremental resource cost. In summary, project management is a complicated series of activities requiring specialized tools and methods. Effective project management requires an attention to detail at a work task level, but also an ability to keep the overall project schedule in view to achieve the schedule, the target cost, and other benefits required by the project’s charter.

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