Project Management

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How to Compensate For Overoptimistic Project Leaders

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Would you know if a project was heading off the rails? Too often, members of project teams are crossing their fingers and providing only the most hopeful updates. After reviewing 14 studies into the ways in which individuals report (and misreport) the status of information technology or software projects, the authors identified five specific areas for leaders to look out for to avoid being blindsided.

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The Question Every Project Team Should Answer

Many projects fail because they are launched without a clearly articulated reason why they’re being pursued. Without a clear vision, a project team can become overwhelmed by conflict and confusion. Exploring the four dimensions of a compelling “why statement” can improve a project’s chances of success. Karen A. Brown, Nancy Lea Hyer and Richard Ettenson explain those four dimensions.

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Does Data Have a Shelf Life?

Recent research out of the Department of Operations and Information Systems at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and the Department of Management Information Systems, Eller School of Management at the University of Arizona, Tucson, asks a seemingly simple question about organizations’ data collection and usage that could have some big implications on your own data techniques.

The question: When is the right time to refresh data to support organizational decision-making?

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Inside the World of the Project Baron

In industrial sectors such as consulting, advertising, filmmaking, software, architecture, engineering and construction, most individual businesses, by definition, are “project-based firms.” This article proposes the term “baronies” to describe the organizational units that direct the projects within project-based firms, and highlights the roles that barons play in three basic types of project-based firms: dominions, tight federations and loose federations.

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Why Every Project Needs a Brand (and How to Create One)

Project leaders should sequence and articulate messaging about their projects in the same way a marketing manager would organize an external branding effort to promote a company’s products and services. Just as product branding creates awareness and sustains value in the minds of an organization’s external customers, shareholders, and constituents, a brand mindset can empower a project leader to develop strategically-timed messages to create visibility and engagement among key targets.

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What Great Projects Have in Common

From time to time a company’s project truly stands out, creating exceptional value and having an impact on the industry. IBM’s AS/400 development effort in the 80s was a game changer and gave IBM a competitive edge. Apple Inc.’s success in creating the iPod portable media player and iTunes online store is another more recent example of a great project — one that changed the way people listen to and buy music. Why are such projects so rare — and why can’t more projects be like them?

Courtesy of IBM.

Putting It Together: How to Succeed in Distributed Product Development

The increase in outsourcing and offshoring of complex work has resulted in innovation efforts that require coordination across cultural, geographic and legal boundaries. If that coordination is mishandled, companies can find themselves needing to make multimillion- or even billion-dollar changes. The complexity of the task makes midcourse corrections likely. Managers must anticipate and adapt their processes in order to reduce risk and, ultimately, cost.

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The Generative Cycle: Linking Knowledge and Relationships

With their flat structures, service-oriented workforce, and participative decision processes, professional service firms (such as lawyers, accountants, doctors) can provide a model toward which larger, more hierarchical organizations can turn for guidance. End result: to be become leaner, quicker and more flexible.

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The Matrix of Change

As a tool for business process reengineering, “the matrix” can help managers determine how quickly change should proceed, in what order changes should take place, whether to start at a new site, and whether the proposed systems are stable and coherent. For a medical products manufacturer, the matrix of change provided unique, useful guidelines for change management.

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Eight Imperatives for the New IT Organization

In an overview of the future role of the IT organization, the authors examine the business and technological changes that are effecting change in many IT units. They cite eight imperatives in which IT organizations must excel in order to succeed. Additionally, they examine the evolving key of IT managers: ensuring that all line managers understand the potential of IT and how it can be used to implement business strategies effectively.

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