IT Project Resource Management

Introduction

Project management consists of diverse processes linked to each other. In IT project management, strategic vision and planning are important elements of any project which determine the project outcomes. Historically, project success has been defined as bringing a project to conclusion on time, within budget, and according to specifications. For successful performance, IT organizations need an effective project management system which consists of control activities and effective resource allocation in order to achieve overall objectives of the company.

Project Management Defined

Project management aims to achieve specified performance within an agreed time scale and budget. Every aspect of the project is defined, e.g. quality and reliability, weight, power, etc. Other points to consider are design, tendering, manufacture, construction, etc., right up to post-sales services. In general, project management is defined as “the process of managing, allocating, and timing resources to achieve a given goal in an efficient and expedient manner” (Badiru 1). The goals of the project give a sense of direction for the activities of an organization. They give broad guidelines towards which more detailed and specific plans are directed. The important point of the project management is that “the elements are expected to work synergistically together to generate a unified output that is greater than the sum of the individual outputs of the components” (Badiru, 1993, p.1).

Different authors identify different elements of the project management such as planning, scheduling and control or resource scheduling, budgeting and cost control, teamwork and effective leadership, conflict management and knowledge management. The book A Guide to the Project Management underlines that the main characteristics of projects are: “performed by people, constrained by limited resources and planned, executed and controlled” (Burkun, 2005. p. 4). All of them underline importance of successful planning and control operations to achieve specific goals of the project. Effective projects are based on extended model of project management and describe the impact of resource scheduling, budgeting, teamwork, conflict management and knowledge management on the outcomes of the project. Projects are carried out in organizations, which are collectives of individuals and groups sometimes working together, sometimes at cross-purposes.

Resource Scheduling

In IT project management, resource scheduling in the initial planning stage varies depending on the type of project. When planning a simple project its team may simply consider the type of resources necessary for each activity, equipment or skill groups. However, if planning a project with fewer resources, the project team may consider not just the skill types necessary but particular individuals, especially if the project has a short duration. The effective resource planning is crucial, because the initial stage determine the development and outcomes of a project in general. “On some projects, collocation may not be an option; where it is not viable, an alternative may be scheduling frequent face-to- face meetings to encourage interaction” (A Guide to the Project Management, 2000). The times within the project when certain activities are undertaken can be altered to reduce the overload on critical resources. This approach is called resource leveling and, whilst it enables resources to be used more effectively, it may result in the project taking longer to complete if it is necessary to reschedule activities that are on the critical path. However, if the activities can be rescheduled to take account of float within non-critical activities, the overall completion date would not be affected. This approach is used when there are no time constraints and when the project has cost constraints and the teams are seeking to use the minimum number of resources in the most effective way (Frame, 2002).

The people who created the PERT scheduling technique realized that any estimate of the duration of a proposed task is subject to uncertainty” (Frame, 2002, p. 74).. Ineffective long-range planning for purchasing does not allow the project to achieve its goals. It can lead to waste of time and poor outcomes. It is important that the project will be finished on time and close to budget. Also, security of supplies is so important to many concerns that they have integrated backwards. By adding resources it can easily be seen whether any project resources are expected to be working on a multitude of activities at any one time to such an extent that they will not be able to complete all the work on all the activities by the scheduled completion date. Ineffective resource scheduling can lead to low profits and useless unprofitable outcomes (A Guide to the Project Management, 2000).

Budgeting and Cost Control

On the majority of IT projects where there is very limited plant or equipment being used, the main cost will be that associated with the people in the internal project team, appointed contractors and subcontractors. It is important to note that for different organizations cost of the staff plays a different role. For instance, organizations running in-house projects do not estimate the cost of their internal staff working on the project, but do estimate the cost of contractors and suppliers. Knack finds that “The more hours staff members spend on a project, the more expensive it becomes” (Frame, 2002, p. 20). This is often the case not only for small organizations, but also many multinational companies which do not have systems in place to allow them to accurately track and record the time people spend on individual projects. For these organizations effective cost management is crucial for the project outcomes and its profitability. “Cost budgeting involves allocating the overall cost estimates to individual activities or work packages to establish a cost baseline” (A Guide to the Project Management, 2000, p. 89).

Human Resource Management

Management of conflicts, an integral part of project management, has assumed a vital strategic role in recent years as organizational attempt to compete through people. Today, projects can create a competitive advantage when they possess or develop human resources that are psychologically strong, and organized. To avoid low motivation and morale of employees, conflict is now treated seriously as an important aspect in the proper understanding of behavior. Modern management practice emphasizes the need for free expression and encourages open communications, especially between superiors and subordinates, and methods of continuing consultation and negotiation (Frame, 2002, p. 98). Conflict resolution takes time and efforts of employees which reduce profitability of the project in general. Also, conflicts have a negative influence on productivity because of low motivation or aggression (frustration) of the staff. The project manager can achieve considerable benefit from this set-up. Inevitably, however, there will be various types of conflict, and the project manager needs to have good negotiation skills to resolve these. The most appropriate negotiation approach is that of principle-centered negotiation, where both parties set out to find a solution that is beneficial to each (A Guide to the Project Management, 2000, p. 132).

Knowledge Management

Without effective knowledge management the IT project will fail. Proper flow of knowledge and training of employees ensures success and fixed outcomes of the project. In the light of this knowledge management is viewed as a means of communication and as a means of storing knowledge. Knowledge management is more about people than technology. Organizational networks can be particularly important in ensuring that knowledge is shared. What is also required is another aspect of organizational capital: trust. For instance, knowledge required by an engineer for the post of project manager includes a knowledge of the legal bases of contracts as well as professional experience. After procurement and specification stages, there is the tender for the contract, which states how performance and achievement is to be demonstrated. Then a program needs to be compiled; activities are planned in the right order and departments receive orders in minute detail. Finally there is the progressing aspect which needs fast and accurate reporting back of forecasted and actual stage activities (Burkun, 2005).

Risk Management

A major source of risk on IT projects is tied to difficulties in managing needs and requirements. If needs have not been identified correctly and if the corresponding requirements do not capture real needs properly, then a project is foredoomed to fail because it will produce deliverables that do not correspond to customers’ needs and wants. Proper management of needs and requirements is a necessary condition for project success. Problems begin with attempts to identify needs. One common difficulty is determining who the customers are. Effective risk management does not happen automatically. Managers who aspire to enable their organizations to be good at managing risk must recognize that the road to effective risk management is “ong, but after the initial hoopla” ((Burkun, 2005). Some of the dependent variable data in the forecast may be significant and may be sensitive to variations in forecasted values of other independent variables. In projects, there are techniques that may help to reduce uncertainty of the future and hence are valuable. In the area of investment decisions, probability forecasts are very important, e.g. variable estimates of future sales costs and prices will affect the estimated rates of return on capital invested in projects. Risk management is an important area of project management because it helps the project manager to locate and plan resources taking into account probability analysis and possible risks. Ineffective risk analysis leads to failure of the project and threatens its outcomes. To understand why these initiatives may be threatening to some people, consider what risk management processes do: they force people in organizations to approach their efforts in a deliberative fashion and to be aware of the dangers that lurk in the shadows (Badiru, 1993).

In order to survive in highly competitive world, IT organizations have to improve their flexibility and be ready to meet change from external environment. He says that changes in organization are often facilitated by such factors as uncertain economic conditions, globalization and fierce competition, the level of government intervention, political interests, scarcity of natural resources, and rapid developments in technology. As well as increasing demand for high-quality goods, services and customer’s satisfaction, flexibility in organizational structure determines the changing nature of workforce and conflict within the organization. Therefore, in today’s fast changing business environment, change turns to be an unavoidable part of social and organizational life (Blanchard and Johnson, 2002). Hence, organizational change can appear in different shapes, sizes and forms; it can be reflected in various change programs such as total quality management, business process re-engineering, performance management, lean production are being enforced in organizations all over the world. Moreover, each organization has to find its own approach how to implement change, reduce resistance and achieve higher productivity. As restructuring process in an organization can bring to a variety of issues related to resistance to change and culture breakup or, the opposite, to a high standard performance, it is important to have a detailed management plan, create an appropriate organizational environment to deliver change, follow carefully the steps of change models and focus on human resources (Badiru, 1993).

Quality Management

Quality management can be described as a collection of principles, techniques, processes and best practices. These are put into practice during the time of company’s existence. In general, the whole process is based on a number of effective technologies. Traditionally, the technologies are based on the use of TQM elements (Badiru, 1993). The use of these elements is projected to improve the quality management method model that has been developed by the company. The main objective of the given model is to describe the primary quality management methods that are currently practiced by the company. The combination of these methods is used with the aim to assess an organization’s present strengths and weaknesses. Traditionally, the analysis is done with the regard to the use of quality management methods. Recent times have brought many approaches to management. Just-in-time (JIT) management principles have become the main principles that are used in modern managerial practices. The major part of the concepts that exist in the RBS have been existing during a relatively long period of time. The main specifics of JIT program is that it is directed towards ensuring that the right quantities of the people. Many people perceive this program as a material-control system (Frame, 2002).

In IT projects, a great emphasis is put on training people in tools and techniques knowledge. So, knowledge of safety rules at working station by workers would eliminate accidents at work, thus making process more effective and productive. With the help of quality control process chart, a safety officer is able to analyze his actions directed onto training people in safety issues. For instance, safety issues are very important in glassmaking plant, where all the working processes can be analyzed with the help of Plan-Do-Check-Act strategy. Introduction and usage of different safety signs in the plant can be analyzed for effectiveness and practical value of such practice. Thus safety issues in a plant can be checked with the help of fishbone diagram. For example, there is a cause – workers do not know safety rules (Frame, 2002). The effect is frequent incidents in the plant. The cause can be steaming either from people, or process, or equipment. If equipment is not working properly, the incidents at working station could be also an effect. The scheme is divided into cause and effect parts, where cause can contain such categories as people, methods, machines, materials, environment, measurements, etc. Usually there would be found a relation between causes and effects in the project Other issues that could be considered as principles of performance, besides profitability, include market share, degree of compliance with rules, rate of innovation and extent of society involvement. In addition to an overall appraisal of consumer value, the input process of value creation must also be tracked and changes made as needed. In the issue of value, minor errors could later cause problems and require the type of radical change that a plan of continuously improving value seeks to avoid. A suitable frame of indicators for the process of leadership is provided by the other issues themselves. The leadership, Integration, Involvement, and Ingraining achieved by the organization are reliable factors of how effectively the organization is pursuing its stated eventual end (Frame, 2002).

Conclusion

The outcomes of the IT project depend upon all elements of the project and effective implementation of all parts of the plan. In project management, resource scheduling and resource location the main keys of effective project management based on control of project and its security. All elements are interdependent and cannot be considered in isolation. For instance, better customer relations lead higher morale of staff, lower program costs result in higher profit margins. Individuals have a lot of freedom, but when they join a project their freedom is restricted and their effort must be joined with those of others to achieve organizational goals. For this reason, the project manager should take a special attention to all areas of the project and resources involved to achieve desirable and stipulated outcomes. Effective project management depends upon location of resources and management skills of its leader. IT project management links such categories as people, methods, machines, materials, environment, and measurements.

List of References

Badiru, A.B. 1993. Quantitative Models for Project Planning, Scheduling and Control. Quorum Books.

Burkun, S. 2005. The Art of Project Management. O’Reilly Media; 1 ed. Blanchard, K., Johnson, S. 2002. The One Minute Manager. Berkley Trade.

A Guide to the Project Management: Body of knowledge PMBOK Guide 2000 edition. Project management Institute.

Frame, J.D. 2002. The New Project Management: Tools for an Age of Rapid Change,Complexity, and Other Business Realities. Jossey-Bass.