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3.3 Managing conflict

Conflict can emerge when a project is thought to be absorbing scarce resources or shifting the balance of power.

The schedule for project meetings provides a framework for communication while the project is in progress. Meetings with team members on a one-to-one basis, in addition to group meetings, will help them to feel supported and could be an opportunity to provide coaching when necessary.


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3.2 Communicating with the project team and other stakeholders

In project management, the quality of communication can make the difference between achieving your objectives and falling short of them. Projects often fail not because of problems with the work itself, but because the people involved are not working together effectively.

Project managers communicate in diverse ways: face-to-face or by telephone, in written and electronic forms, through presentations and reports. The purpose of communication is primarily to explain to others what has be
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3.1 Introduction

Communication on project work is the glue that holds everything together!

(Young 1998)

The success of a project is principally determined by its stakeholders, including sponsors and project team, and you can only know how you are doing by keeping channels of communication open. In this section, we examine briefly some of the issues involved in communicating with all people involved with the
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2.8 Controlling changes to the project

Sometimes an addition or change to the project will be requested. This can be difficult for those who manage the project, because you will want both to maintain good relations with your client and to protect your profit margin and budget for resources. The first step is to assess the extent to which this will cause a need for additional time or resources. Perhaps the change can be accommodated in the project plan within the existing time-scale and budget, for example by altering some of the t
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2.7 Tracking progress

Gantt charts and critical path diagrams are useful for tracking project activity and for making necessary changes to the project plan. Project-planning software may also be used; the original chart is kept as the standard and any modifications are superimposed.

The example of the joint strategy for commissioning training services demonstrates how tracking produced information that led to a change of plan.

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2.6 Maintaining balance

Monitoring is also concerned with achieving a balance of the three dimensions of the project:

  • cost – the resources available;

  • time – the schedule;

  • quality – the scope and appropriateness of the outputs or outcomes.

Many of the difficulties in implementing a project are caused by poor time management. This will have a direct effect on the costs of the project, as well as on the quality of what is
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2.5 Project meetings schedule

You need to decide early on what meetings are essential to the monitoring process. All your stakeholders will expect to receive reports at regular intervals, whether formally or informally. So you need to ask yourself:

  • Who needs to be informed?

  • About what?

    How often?

  • By what means?

Effective communication involves giving information, collecting information and listening to people. To ensure the
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2.4 Project status reports

Project status reports are regular and formal. You will need to decide how often they are necessary – depending on the size and nature of the project, it might be weekly, monthly or quarterly. In some situations reports might need to be hourly, if a problem is causing serious concern and has the potential to delay progress seriously. Daily reports might be necessary if there are implications for arranging work for the following day.

The degree of risk involved, and the time it would t
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2.3 Interdependency of systems

The control system approach to project control provides a simple overview of the process of planning, measuring against the plan and taking action to bring things back into line if necessary. This suggests that events will move in a fairly linear way. Life is messier than this, however, and every time that something happens it will have an impact on everything else around it – so the interdependency of systems is important to consider.

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2.2.2 Milestones

Milestones are measuring points that are used in reviewing the progress of a project. Milestones can be set in different ways, to reflect different purposes. For example, milestones are often used to provide an agenda for regular meetings which review the project. These reviews should take place, weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on the nature of the project.

Another approach is to set the milestones to reflect key phases of the project. Sometimes such milestones are established i
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2.2.1 Gathering information

Successful control of a project depends on the flow of information, so it is important to have systems in place to make sure that you get feedback on what is happening. If the project team is meeting regularly to review progress, monitoring becomes more dynamic and changes to the plan can be achieved by consensus. Involving the team not only helps to keep everyone on target – it also builds commitment.

Monitoring is the most important activity during the implementation phase of a proj
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2.2 Monitoring as control

To control you need a plan that indicates what should happen and information that tells you what is actually happening. This is monitoring activity. By comparing the information about actual progress against the plan, you will be able to identify any variations.

Control is an important part of project management. It involves:

  • reporting the progress of the project against the plan;

  • analysing the reasons for variance between progr
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2.1 Unique problems and constraints

In an ideal world, projects would be completed on time, within specified budgets and to the standards set out in the plans. In practice, any project involves a set of unique problems and constraints that inevitably create complexity and risk. Plans are liable to change as work progresses, and each stage in the process may have to be revisited several times before completion. Projects do not exist in a vacuum: they often take place in rapidly changing contexts, and the impact of the changing e
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1.4 Resourcing the project

Work will be delayed if the necessary materials and equipment are not readily available, or if the accommodation for the project has not been arranged. Although the project manager is responsible for overall resource allocation and utilisation, much of the work can be delegated. By conferring responsibility to achieve an outcome within the budget, more direct links between costs and outcomes are established. In most projects there will be organisational internal controls and statutory require
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1.3 Motivating and preparing staff

Motivation is important. In resourcing the project it may be worthwhile to build in a reward system that helps to motivate. This depends on the availability of the resources to make this possible. Even if the material rewards are good, the conditions in which staff work and the relationships between them always affect performance. A project manager is often able to influence conditions and culture. The tasks allocated to staff must be realistic and achievable, and it is helpful to agree these
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1.2 Defining team responsibilities

Depending on the size of a project, responsibility for each key stage may need to be allocated to a member of the project team. Clear allocation of roles and responsibilities for tasks and key stages ensures that each piece of work is ‘owned’ by a particular person, and that overall responsibility for the work is spread appropriately between members of the team. Establishing clear lines of accountability for each team member is important to give them:

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1.1 The transition from planning to action

In working on a project, it is sometimes difficult to make the transition from planning to action. It usually falls to the manager, as leader of the project, to make sure that activities are started; but not before it is clear who should carry out which tasks, and when. The first step for the project manager is to ensure that the plan is communicated to those who will be working on the project. It is not always safe to assume that others will understand the plan or its implications, particula
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Next steps

After completing this unit you may wish to study another OpenLearn Study Unit or find out more about this topic. Here are some suggestions:

If you wish to study formally at The Open Universit
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5 Conclusion

In a financial context, risk is a synonym for uncertainty – the possibility that the actual outcome will differ from the mean expected outcome. It is therefore a neutral rather than a negative concept. Investors are risk-averse in the sense that they require more return for taking on more risk. Risk itself is measured by the standard deviation of actual returns around the mean expectation. In the real world, investment risk is created by a number of different factors that affect the certain
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4.3 Net present value

If the NPV is positive, then the aggregate present value of the future cash flows is greater than the price to be paid for the investment today, so the investment is cheap and offers an excess return. If the NPV is negative, then the price to be paid today is greater than the present value of the future cash flows; the investment is therefore overpriced and does not offer an adequate return. If the NPV is zero, we can say the investment is fairly priced by the market.

All significant fi
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