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4.1 Dealing with risk

Projects are high-risk activities, and it is in the early stages that uncertainty is greatest. Some of this uncertainty can be removed during design and planning, but in practice a great deal may remain. Risks can be ranked according to their probability and likely impact, and a risk log can be kept detailing this information. Throughout the progress of the project you will need to review your risk log, to check whether any risks have become either more or less probable, and whether any new r
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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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2.3 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 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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References

Galloway, L. (1998) Principles of Operations Management, ITP.
Hounshell, D. (1984) From the American System to Mass Production, 1800–1932: The Development of Manufacturing Technology in the United States, Johns Hopkins University Press.
Kanigel, R. (1999) The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency, Viking.

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3.4 Transformation processes

A transformation process is any activity or group of activities that takes one or more inputs, transforms and adds value to them, and provides outputs for customers or clients. Where the inputs are raw materials, it is relatively easy to identify the transformation involved, as when milk is transformed into cheese and butter. Where the inputs are information or people, the nature of the transformation may be less obvious. For example, a hospital transforms ill patients (the input) into health
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2.4.1 Five key ideas about systems

Systems thinking will enable you to analyse complex issues in an illuminating way. It takes a whole (or holistic) view of a situation.

When you think of a system, bear in mind the following five ideas:

  1. Everything in a system is connected The elements of a system are interconnected. The members of a department or a voluntary group constitute a system. There are connections between the members. A system can comprise people, material objects,
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • make an informed judgement about whether or to what extent a financial market satisfies the conditions of an efficient market;

  • identify the main factors that could detract from that efficiency.


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Introduction

How do financial markets match providers with users, and how efficiently does the market determine prices? Financial markets can be notoriously volatile, and the stock market is possibly the most volatile of them all. This is after all the place where, depending on skill or on luck, investors either ‘make a killing’ or ‘lose their shirts’. But which does it depend on – skill or luck? Or does it depend on a mixture of the two? In this unit, you will find the answers to these key que
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3.7 Interest rate risk

This has to be seen in conjunction with the previous comments about the secondary market in shares and debt instruments. An efficient secondary market can ensure that there is always a ready buyer for an investment, but the price at which the investment can actually be sold will depend entirely on market conditions at the time of sale. The secondary market price will not necessarily bear any relation to the price originally paid by the investor. The following example illustrates the general p
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3.5 Default or credit risk

This is the risk that contractual returns will not be paid because the borrower's financial situation has deteriorated to the point that it is no longer able to service the debt. It is possibly the commonest type of risk in commerce generally, and you are probably familiar with it in some shape or form. It affects many areas of business decision-making over and beyond the specialised world of investment risk and return. Most large companies devote significant resources to the identification,
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6.2 Gantt chart

Gantt charts show all the key stages of a project and their duration as a bar chart, with the time-scale across the top. The key stages are placed on the bar chart in sequence, starting in the top left-hand corner and ending in the bottom right-hand corner (Figure 7 – Gantt chart for directory production). A Gantt chart can be dr
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5.2 Work breakdown

A work breakdown structure enables:

  • the work of a project to be divided into ‘packages’;

  • these ‘packages’ can be further subdivided into ‘elements’;

  • these elements are then divided into individual ‘tasks’.

This structure provides a basis for estimating the time and effort required. In a large project, the work breakdown structure might allow packages of work to be allocated to t
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1 The planning phase

Once the project brief has been agreed by the project sponsors and approved by the main stakeholders, you can move into the detailed planning phase. The project plan can become a working tool that helps to keep the project team focused on the project's tasks and activities and points them towards completion. It enables managers to keep track of resources, time and progress towards achieving objectives.

All projects are different and the planning for each will be different. The difficult
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6.5 RSS

RSS (‘Really Simple Syndication’ or ‘Rich Site Summary’) newsfeeds supply headlines, links, and article summaries from various websites. By using RSS ‘feedreader’ software you can gather together a range of feeds and read them in one place: they come to you, rather than you having to go out and look for breaking news. The range of RSS feeds on offer is growing daily. There is probably a feed to cover all aspects of your life where you might need the latest information, and you may
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6.4 Blogs

The founder of Technorati claims that the number of ‘blogs’ doubles every five months and that the creation rate is approaching two per second. One estimate I read in July 2010 put the number at 400 million blogs. Because these online diaries offer instant publishing opportunities, you potentially have access to a wealth of knowledge from commentators and experts (if they blog) in a wide range of fields. Most internet searc
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6.3 Mailing lists and newsgroups

Mailing or discussion lists are email-based discussion groups. When you send an email to a mailing list address, it is sent automatically to all the other members of the list.

The majority of academic-related mailing lists in the UK are maintained by JISCMail  You will find details of joining these mailing lists on the JI
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4.1 PROMPT

There is so much information available on the internet on every topic imaginable. But how do you know if it is any good? And if you find a lot more information than you really need, how do you decide what to keep and who to discard?

In this section we are going to introduce a simple checklist to help you to judge the quality of the information you find. Before we do this, spend a few minutes thinking about what is meant by information quality.

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3.10 Summary

There is a lot of information available on business and management via the internet. Try the activity below to start exploring what is available.

Activity

3.9 Choosing the right tool for the job

Before searching it is always a good idea to check what the source you have chosen covers to make sure it will unearth information that matches your search need (you will notice that all the resources we’ve covered in this guide have short descriptions to enable you to decide which to use). Some of the decision makers, depending on the context of your search might be:

  • Does it have full text?

  • Does it cover the right subject?


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