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Myths in Project Management

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2010 16 Pages

Business economics - Business Management, Corporate Governance

Excerpt

Table of contents

1 Introduction

2 Myths
2.1 Time planning
2.2 Planning and Feasibility
2.3 The human factor
2.4 Repetition always works

3 How to avoid a myth

4 Conclusion

Reference List

1 Introduction

The term project management stands for the assumption that a project has to be successful. There are managers who think if they use the tech­nique of project management, they have a guarantee for success. It is ob­vious that every structural work which is done by the use of experience and knowledge is even better than a work which is done by the caprice decisions of one person. A project will fail without project management, but the converse assumption is neither correct.

One of the reasons why projects fail in spite of project management is that there are various myths which make managers believe they are doing well their work, but with a critical analysis they would realize that they can im­prove it. This piece of work analyzes the most common myths within the project environment. Most of these myths can be identified as manage­ment mistakes caused by superficial knowledge and subjective assump­tions without scientific evidence.

But why there are so many myths? Why do not project managers realize the mistakes they make? On the one hand project management is a young discipline in the economy. The first project management tools were devel­oped in the 1950s. Therefore companies do mistakes because of missing preferences (Maylor, 2003, p.6-7). But one the other hand managers make not realize mistakes because of coincidences. If a project succeeds be­cause the worst case did not come along, the executive manager often thinks that he did all right and he is going to plan another project in the same way with the same mistakes. With the right techniques and risk management one can decrease the possibility that a project fails a lot. Nevertheless they do not know if they will have success but they can minimize risks in avoiding common myths which are analyzed by this piece of work.[1]

2 Myths

2.1 Time planning

Almost every project at the end of its term is running out of time. It does not matter if it is a First-timer or a project that already has been realized many times. This is true even for projects with identical tasks, but different time periods for the fulfilment of these tasks: Whether five weeks or five months, at the end time is short. The reasons for this phenomenon are complex and varied but often not really clear. Sometimes the project was incorrectly planned, for instance with too little or too short time. In other cases there was too much time wasted at the beginning of the project be­cause of the horror vacui effect1. This raises the question of whether it is considerable bad in a project to have time even before the deadline is fin­ished. In the last few days of the planning phase there is lot more stress than in the rest of the project. But why is it so?

Time pressure in a project is a condition which has to be involved in the planning process. Time constraints have to be claimed by all groups in­volved. Otherwise the client could assert that the service provider has wasted money in his calculation and, the other way round, the service pro­vider could assume that the client is a thoughtless entrepreneur who does not know how to negotiate well and is not able to control his employees. Even if there is enough time there are employees who try to work slower in order to not give the impression that they could achieve more for the com­pany if they wanted to (Heers and Voigt, 2004).

There is only one way to refute this myth. It is vital that a project manager presents a realistic time scale. This also contains the possible risks of de­lay. Depending on the impact of the possible failures, buffers are needed. The agency has to explain the steps he makes to the client, so that the above-named misunderstandings are avoided. At the beginning of a pro-ject there has to be an estimation process which shows in the project structure plan three time units for every task: One for the best case, another one for the normal procedure and the third one for the worst case. So it is guaranteed that a delay of one task within the work breakdown structure does not endanger the whole project. It is also a good method to see where a project already has saved time to invest it in another task (Gilbert, 2001, p.142-146).

[...]


[1] The fear of empty space. See http://www.craftanddesign.com/exhibitions/horror_vacui

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Title: Myths in Project Management