EFFECTIVE ACCOUNTABILITY IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT 6
EffectiveAccountability in Project Management
Oneinteresting aspect of projects is that even if they are deliveredwithin the cost and time budget, if one key stakeholder is not happy,the project cannot be termed as fully successful (Project Controls,n.d.). This observation puts project stakeholders on a high priority.In an IT project, the first stakeholder is the organization thatneeds a system. The organization is usually represented by its seniormanagement (Barron & Barron, 2011). The second stakeholder is theinvestors in the organization. The efficiency of the organization istheir primary concern since their ultimate goal is profitability.Hence, any system that promises the organization increased efficiencywould interest the investors.
Thethird stakeholder is the systems development team. They can be a teamconstituted from within the organization’s staff or they can beoutsourced. Their objective is to deliver a system that will solvethe organization’s problem. The fourth key stakeholder is the enduser who will operate the system. If the system satisfied all theother stakeholders but the end users are unable to make the most outof it, the project will still have failed (Project Controls, n.d.).
Thescenario this brief analysis of stakeholders’ paints is one thatdepicts the interconnectivity of objectives that the final systempresented should meet. Each stakeholder appears to rely on anotherfor their fulfilment. For instance, the investor counts on theorganization’s management to identify the problems within theorganization’s system. They should present the identified problemsor needs to the software developers and request for solutions.Therefore, the investor’s desire that the organization maintainsoperational efficiency, effectiveness in service delivery and overallprofitability, depends on the management’s foresight (Gunlach,2009).
Ina similar fashion, the management is dependent on the team ofdeveloper’s ability to translate the organization’s needs into asystem that offers solutions for the same. The interconnectionbetween these two entities is interesting because each depends on theother. The systems developers can only develop a system according tothe specifications communicated by the organization (Gunlach, 2009).If there is any miscommunication, the resulting system will not bethe expected solution to the organization’s needs. The end users ofthe system’s role in this process is critical. They can actuallyassist the management to present the organization’s problems, needsand expectations (Project Controls, n.d.). One of the exercises theproject manager should conduct is an environmental analysis. Thisexercise should come at the beginning of the project. It is anattempt to do an independent need assessment, and to understand thealready existing system. In addition, the project manager seeks tosurvey the views of the end users of the system.
Endusers can determine the success of failure of a project from severaldimensions. As already mentioned earlier, end users are the ones whointeract with the system and have the capacity to communicate theareas that need adjustments better than any other stakeholder. Thisis one way the objective of the project manager to deliver a systemthat fits the exact needs depends on them. Once the system iscomplete, its deployment involves placing it in the hands of endusers (Project Controls, n.d.). At this point, the project team hasthe responsibility of training the end users thoroughly so that theycan utilize the system optimally (Ten Step, n. d.). Failure of theproject team to document precise end user guidelines is oneingredient for project failure. Here is a possible problem scenario:a system has all the functions needed to meet the needs of theorganization. However, the user interface is sophisticated such thatthe end users have a difficult time finding certain features. Thetime spent struggling to get a grasp of the system and itsfunctionality counts and it lowers the overall organization’sefficiency.
Theissue coming up here is the timeliness for assessing the needs ofevery category of stakeholders and communicating it to the relevantparties. Broadly, a project has the period preceding it, the timewhen the actual project is going on, and time after the project hasbeen completed (Ten Step, n. d.). Each of these three phasessignifies a time when one or two of the stakeholders have a bettergrip of the project than the rest, and can make significant decisionsabout it.
Beforethe project, the two most significant stakeholders are the investorsand the senior management of the organization. They are theinitiators of the project. From business process reviews or processaudits, the need for system upgrades or weakness sealing are compiledand handed over to the CIO who in turn informs the senior management(Gunlach, 2009). The management discusses the severity of systemweaknesses, and the urgency of the upgrades. After consulting theinvestors and convincing them of the need for this project, they makea decision on when to constitute a systems development team oroutsource one for the identified needs (Barron & Barron, 2011).
Bythe time the decision to put together a team of developers is beingmade, the management already has a rough idea of how much the projectshould cost (Ten Step, n. d.). For an in-house systems developmentteam, they only need a few directives on what is needed before theycan begin the project. For an outsourced team, more time is dedicatedinto orienting them into the organization to have them understand theenvironment, the organization structure, and processes (Gunlach,2009). Once the needs are presented to them, they ought to prove theyhave the expertise required to deliver according to the expectationsoutlined.
Duringthe project, attention shifts to the project team and the seniormanagement. A contractual agreement is not a necessity when anorganization is working with an in-house team. The only necessarything is to have the project manager put together a team with therequired skills and discuss their terms of involvement with theproject with their supervisors. When the team is outsourced, theproject manager needs a link to the senior management. Depending onthe hierarchical structure of the organization, the project managermay report to the IT manager, CIO or even to the CEO (Barron &Barron, 2011).
Thenecessity for the project manager reporting to such a high authorityis because information systems issues are dynamic. They involveinformation that is highly valuable to the organization, thereforewarranting discretion. Issues such as project funding, changes inscope, or patenting parts of the system is senior managementbusiness. After the project, the key people are the end users, andthe entity in charge of maintaining the system. An outsourced teammay still continue offering systems support as consultants, or theymay hand over the system manual to internal IT specialists formaintenance, and user manuals to the end users (Gunlach, 2009).
Sincethe happiness of all the stakeholders is paramount, there should be away of ensuring that all their objectives are made known in goodtime. Communicating in a clear-cut and timely manner is indispensableif the project is to succeed, and it is a requirement for all thestakeholders as seen in the analysis of each phase. The misguidanceof one may lead to a chain of events that may devastate all of them.Therefore, a proper and timely communication is the backbone of asuccessful project.
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