Term Paper: Project Management for Dummies

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[. . .] 49); "developing and analyzing a network diagram" (p. 71) and "assign your project's personnel needs" (p. 105). Chapter 5 in particular also stresses the importance of finding the right people to assist with the project. Portny observes "Your project's success rests on your ability to enlist the help of the right people to perform the necessary work" (p. 106). Portny also stresses that, toward that same end, "identifying skills and knowledge needed to perform your project's activities" (Project Management for Dummies) and Finding people who in fact possess all of those required skills will either make or break a project.

One of the chapters I found most personally useful was Chapter 6, on "The Who and How of Project Management." Here, Portny covers three main topics: (1) "Distinguishing the project organization from the traditional organization"; (2) "Clarifying the roles of different people in the matrix organization"; and (3) "Recognizing key tips for increasing the chances of success" (p. 137). As Portny also notes in this chapter, project management structure and atmosphere may be, and very often is, much different than overall company structure and atmosphere, and one is wise to be clear at the outset on the differences between the two.

While projects are company activities, they nevertheless typically take on atmospheres, conflicts, and lives of their own. For example, one operates within both a centralized company structure and a functional departmental or area structure in most parts of one's job. However, project management may send one outside one's own functional structure into various other functional structures within the centralized one.

Those areas outside one's usual functional structure become the unique "matrix structure" (p. 141) of the project. Understandably, the matrix structure of an individual project will spawn (and necessitate) much different communications; alliances; interrelationships; interactions, and interdependencies than will usual, more typical work activities. Key players in a project matrix environment, which obviously differs from one's overall work environment, will typically include the "project manager; project team members; functional managers; and upper management" (p. 143).

Chapter 7 covers choosing and involving the "Right People" (p. 149) in one's project. Supporting ideas covered in this chapter include the importance of understanding one's project's audience ("any person or group that supports, is affected by, or is interested in your project" (p. 150). Each project also has "drivers"; "supporters"; and "observers" (p. 158) and it is equally important, Portny suggests, for project managers to identify and know each of them, and their respective roles. Of crucial importance to project success, also, is "Finding a project champion" (p. 159) or someone high up in one's organization that will support and encourages the project.

Teamwork is crucial to successful project completion. Chapter 8 explains the importance of "defining team members roles and responsibilities" (p. 166), and making sure all team members are aware of their own and each others' roles and responsibilities. Therefore, lines of authority, responsibility, and accountability must be clearly established at the outset, and sustained throughout the project. This chapter also discusses strategies project managers can use should they have to deal with micromanagement from above, such as "setting up times to discuss interesting technical [or other] issues with the person" (p. 181).

The book also covers ways of tracking progress and maintaining control (Chapter 10); ways of keeping everyone informed (Chapter 11), including sharing information both in writing and at meetings; and ways of encouraging peak performance in team players (Chapter 12), including providing rewards and helping players maintain motivation.

Chapter 14 focused on handling risk or uncertainty, including ways of identifying possible risk factors; assessing risk impact, and preparing a risk management plan. Key advice of this chapter is to realistically assess risks to the project, and to have a risk management plan for handling them.

Later chapters included advice on how to hold people accountable (Chapter 18); getting a project back on track (Chapter 19)and tips for optimal project management (Chapter 20).

All in all, I benefited from reading and reflecting on the guidelines, strategies, and tips plentifully contained within Stanley E. Portny's Project Management for Dummies. The only aspect of this book that I found disappointing was that of that it had far fewer specific examples, of actual project management situations to illustrate major points and concepts, than I would have liked. I learn best and most easily from examples and discussion of how those examples illustrate… [END OF PREVIEW]

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