Project Management: The Importance of a precise schedule

 

 

Project Schedule and Estimating Activity Duration

A project plan is a road map for Project Managers (PMs), as they manage a full cascade of variables within  new projects, with an objective to bring all the moving parts to a successful conclusion. Relying on the help of the project Team and key Stakeholders, each PM tries to keep the pace of activities in sync with the project schedule, the heart of the plan.

In continuation of our mission to provide links to tools for innovative Instructional Design, a list of three online resources is published below:

  1. PROJECT PLAN AND SCHEDULE DEVELOPMENT

Effective project scheduling starts by identifying all the work required for the project long before delivery. It considers dates and resource constraints as the schedule is created. The project schedule helps any team to clearly identify everything essential to successful project conclusion.

A useful online resource: ‘INTRODUCTION: Plan and Schedule Development – Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)’, is accessible at https://engineering.tamu.edu/media/699875/planning-tasks-and-wbs.pdf

  1. PROJECT PLAN DEVELOPMENT

After the scope has been clearly defined for a project, and the work breakdown structure (WBS) has been created, the next step is to draft a schedule or timeline. This is done for every deliverable item identified in the work breakdown structure (WBS).The project planner needs to identify a list of activities needed to every phase of the project. The online resource ‘BASICS OF PROJECT PLANNING’, is Accessible at http://zilicus.com/Articles/Basics_Of_Project_Planning.pdf., and  How to plan the delivery schedule is on page 5.

  1. PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND SCHEDULING SOFTWARE

Software for drafting project plans have come a long way. GanttProject is a free project scheduling and management app for Windows, OSX and Linux. The download is available at http://www.ganttproject.biz/

In ending this blog, I just want to say that I would appreciate your comments on the topics raised, and see you next time. Thanks.

 

References

Larson, E., & Larson R. (2012). 10 Steps to Creating a Project Plan. Retrieved from https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/10-steps-to-creating-a-project-plan.html

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Creating a project schedule [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

 

 

Communicating Effectively

M  edia use in communication, is a means of extending our senses. (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2014). The rightful choice of media, the effective use of these choices, and continuous improvement research, all ensure significant results in practice. According to the cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CMTL), human response to multimedia is to build meaningful connections between words and pictures, as they learn more deeply than with words or pictures alone. (Mayer, 2009).

[dropcap]Comparing three media (Email, Voicemail, and Video message), one discovers a trend of improving message quality or delivery. Email presents the message in clear script, but must be read to be understood. The assumption that the reader can interpret written words into a  clear and audible tone, it is assumed that the listener is conversant with the language being used. A video message is a form of face-to-face communication and is usually more understandable than an email or voicemail. Apart from an audible comprehension, a video message is reinforced with visual cues, and makes more meaningful communication. In effect a video message is a series of moving pictures supported by audible words and sounds.

None of these are perfect communication tools, but video gets closer to the mark, since it is rendered in 3D and in color. However, each of the tools of communication considered in this blog post should be seen as effective for a purpose. Purpose is what determines choice, for the end justifies the means.

How was meaning derived from each message medium?

  • The email had to be re-read to make sure that I understood the message.
  • The voicemail had to be re-played to make sure that I understood the message
  • The video message was played once and I understood that I needed to respond to the sender’s request completely.

The implication of this consideration, is that we have a field of choices in communication. Based on the urgency or timing of a communication need, one has one of three choices or possible combinations of any two or all three to choose from. So, in communicating with members of a project team, one would choose the medium or combination of media, based on:

  • Need for clarity vs cost
  • Time available vs sense of urgency
  • Sequence of priorities (Timeline).

This information is not for Project Managers only, but also useful for project team members to know and use, as the team executes the assigned project.

 

References

Mayer, R.E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2014). Teaching and learning at a distance. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Pub. Continue reading “Communicating Effectively”

Learning from a Project “ Post-Mortem”

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning” – Albert Einstein

PROJECT POST-MORTEM

As I review one of many recent projects, I do so to apply cumulative learnings that pertain to the rightful use of assessment, the need for appropriate application of Instructional Design methodologies, and an understanding that there is nothing like a perfect project. Projects can always be improved on, and when this continuous improvement philosophy forms the basis of strategic purpose, one can, both improve, as well as learn with excellence.

In November 2015, I completed my Masters in Higher Education with a Capstone project. It was an opportunity to apply newly learned project management principles, in a learn-by-doing format. (Greer,2001). The project was titled: Designing for Motivation and was based on literature reviews which provided the main thrust and justification for the final deliverables.

One of the reference resources which was used during the design of that project was an article published in a Blog titled: ‘Bright Hub’. (Rhinehart Neas, 2010). According to this article, a capstone project at the Masters level is meant to meet certain criteria:

  • it should be academically sound
  • research should be inclusive and holistic
  • it should culminate in a lasting project that can be carried on by others
  • it should scaffold on prior as well as recently acquired knowledge
  • the presentation should inspire others to participate or inquire
  • the final paper should be detailed, yet concise

These considerations will be added to my post-Morten review parameters. The full review follows below:

Getting my bearings

This was my first real academically focused capstone project as I was introduced to the basics of project management at the beginning of the Capstone course. Working with groups, I honed many skills which would eventually prepare me for the rigors of the final project.

Processes, Artifacts, & Activities included in the project

  • Interactive pre-course questionnaire for asynchronous audience
  • Registration instructions for an online communications tool
  • Narrated automated PowerPoint slideshow (Main Training Module)
  • Interactive post-course questionnaire
  • A Capstone Paper, documenting the project process.

Processes, Artifacts, & Activities not included

  • Interactive pre-course questionnaire for synchronous audience
  • A flow chart of learning objectives scaffold as introduction
  • Summary slides within the presentation to pause and allow metacognitive review
  • A more intensive and focused participant search
  • A plan for implementation of formative feedback data.
  • A detailed project plan

Summary

One of the key steps of Project Management (PM), is the preparation of a Statement of Work (SOW) or Project Charter (PC) document. These are initiating documents which allow a consensus to be reached and which provide inputs from the Project Manager’s or Instructional Designer’s expertise in the generation of project dynamics. ‘Designing for Motivation’, being an academic project did not have the luxury of agreeing initiating parameters. However, it was understood at the time, that certain elements would not match real-life scenarios and these would be in what Project Managers call ‘assumptions’.

This project was successful because the deliverables were innovative and applicable to the scenario identified in the needs analysis. In the process of designing the training module, it was determined that the format had to be accessible synchronously as well as asynchronously. Since some of the respondents were resident in other States, this was achieved through a series of innovative communications (emails, text and Skype). The Stakeholder/Respondent email contained an explanation of the project and what was required of prospective participants. The time frames of project start-off and completion were clearly stated, though, I had to do extra communications to get at least 10 respondents, when previously accepted respondents changed their minds. To avoid this frustration, I would allocate at least 2 months to my respondent search ahead of project commencement, and utilize more selection parameters.

The most gratifying and professionally satisfying part of the project, was that I was able to combine much of my previous learning in creating the training module, and lay the ground work for my future research study.  With the benefit of this work, I can redesign the participant selection tool. Also, one thing I would change is the mixed offering platform of synchronous & Asynchronous to fully synchronous.

References

Greer, M. (2001). The project manager’s partner: A step-by-step guide to project management. Human Resource Development.

Ogunsakin, T. (2015). Designing for motivation. Final Capstone project at Walden University.

Rhinehart Neas, L. M. (2010). How to Create a Master’s Degree Capstone Project [Blog] Accessible at http://www.brighthub.com/education/postgraduate/articles/72316.aspx

Welcome to Project Management

    WELCOME

Welcome everyone,

For those who are new to this Blog site (Design4intelligence), I am glad you are here. This is a site with updates on Instructional Design innovation and news.

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See you soon.

Temitope Ogunsakin