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PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, PHASES AND THEIR ROLES

Program Management, Phases and their Roles

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, PHASES AND THEIR ROLES AND HOW

Introduction Researchers (e.g., Axson, 2007; Besner & Hobbs, 2006; Drucker, 1954; Kerzner, 2004; Project Management Institute [PMI], 2004) in the field of project management have argued that the major reason projects fail is the inadequate attention that project managers pay to activities in the conceptual stage of project implementation. The aforementioned researchers have argued that failure to ascertain the effectiveness of project activities involved at the conceptual stage of projects is similar to building a high tower without first laying a solid foundation with which to sustain the entire building. A project is deemed successful when projects are on target, on schedule, on budget, and customers are satisfied (Gido & Clements, 2006; Hedeman, Heemst, & Fredriksz, 2005; Hughes, Tippett, & Thomas, 2004; Kerzner, 2006a; Mescon et al., 1985; Phillips, 2009; PMI, 2004). Although this definition delineates the traditional approach to project management success concept, a new dimension to defining overall project success has emerged. The new dimension to project success, according to Shenhar, Milosevic, Dvir, and Thamhain (2007), takes into consideration the need to link project management and the projects final product. In other words, project success in no longer viewed within the confines of meeting the project constraints of scope, time, and cost; rather, it is a strategic link that connects the final product to the end-users satisfaction (Kenneth, 2007; Milosevic & Srivannaboon, 2006; Shenhar et al., 2007) targeted at achieving overall project goal (project success). This new approach to project success, according to Shenhar and Dvir(2007), refers to business-related processes that are intended to deliver business outcomes rather than a set of project activities that have to be completed on schedule.

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, PHASES AND THEIR ROLES AND HOW

Project success is highly celebrated by the project stakeholders. As a result, when projects succeed, the customers, performing organizations, project managers, and their teams win (Gido & Clements, 2006; Rosenfeld, 2005; Sue, 2005). Thus, project success is a positive situation for all of the project stakeholders. However, the paths to project success are identified by internal and external factors (Kerzner, 2004; Morrison & Brown, 2004) that are entrenched within the project management life cycle. Project success is process driven. Projects go through initiation, planning, execution, control or monitoring, and closing phases (PMI, 2004) in order to get tasks done effectively and to achieve a successful ending. In all these phases, project managers play a crucial role in the success of the project. The purpose of this study is to examine and evaluate the role of project managers in all of the above mentioned phases and what are the roles and responsibilities that program managers play in each phase. The researcher will also evaluate how project managers engage their stakeholders during the process of project management. No organization can survive without successful project management input (Scott-Young & Samson, 2008; Shenhar et al., 2007). Project management facilitates the process of change and creates value (Bredillet, 2010; Clarke, 1999); it is a key driver of business innovation and change that positions organizations to gain competitive advantage (Shenhar et al., 2007) and improve project culture, effectiveness, and efficiency (Martinsuo, Hensman, Artto, Kujala, & Jaafari, 2006). These changes range from integration to the reorganization of major businesses, developing new initiatives between a company, its customers, suppliers, and strategic partners (Clarke, 1999). In addition, project management delivers desired outcomes, enhances project quality and a means of solving problems, provides a better control of scope changes, fosters relationship

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, PHASES AND THEIR ROLES AND HOW

among all project stakeholders, reduces power struggles among key players, enhances the rapid delivery of projects, and ultimately leads to profitability (Sauser, Reilly, & Shenhar, 2009). These outcomes notwithstanding, organizations must be committed to a culture of effective practices (Reed, 2008) by creating an enabling working environment that encourages team cohesiveness. The role of Project Managers Project managers occupy a central position in every project. The PMI (2004) described project managers as the chief architects and executives in charge of overseeing the day-to-day project operations. Kerzner (2006b) claimed that the project managers lead the project execution plan development from gathering the necessary resources (financial, human, equipment, etc.) to ensuring deliverables across all project phases. According to Gido and Clements (2006), project managers provide leadership to the project team. For instance, in the area of planning, project managers spearhead the development of a plan with the project team and review the plan with the customer; in the area of organizing, they secure the appropriate resources to perform the project; and in the area of controlling, they track actual progress and compare it with planned progress. Hutka (2009) argued that every project, irrespective of its size, needs a single project manager to lead the project team toward the projects goals. Project managers also are responsible for managing the stakeholders expectations (Gido & Clements, 2006; Hedeman et al., 2005; Phillips, 2009; PMI, 2004). Wood (2008) asserted that a well-informed and experienced project manager is an asset in terms of minimizing costs by utilizing the best practices suitable for the project, improving quality by reducing delays by preordering materials and equipment, and reducing risk through ongoing reviews and documentation. As a result,

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, PHASES AND THEIR ROLES AND HOW

project managers must communicate unforeseen developments accurately to the team members and also listen to their suggestions (Hutka, 2009; Shenhar et al., 2007). Aside from the central role and responsibilities that project managers occupy in every project, they also require the necessary skills to effectively integrate effective practices within the project phases and achieve successful deliverables. For example, project managers must be effective communicators (Gido & Clements, 2006). The PMI (2004) claimed that 90% project managers time is spent communicating the project objectives to the team and presenting progress, technical design, and project status reports (Gido & Clements, 2006; Phillips, 2004) to the stakeholders involved in the project. Equally important, Gido and Clements claimed that project managers must possess good leadership and interpersonal skills, be able to handle stress, have a good sense of humor, and be good delegators. Effective delegation, however, necessitates that the project team members or supervisors being delegated to act must be empowered to accept full responsibility on the job and be accountable for their actions (Phillips, 2009). Importance of Stakeholders in a Project Stakeholders in this context refer to any individuals who may be affected positively or negatively by the project outcomes (PMI, 2004; Wearne, 2008); therefore, appreciating the relevant roles and services that the stakeholders offer is essential to project success (King & Burgess, 2008). They include project sponsors, the performing organization, project managers, and project teams. In a project setting, the project sponsors, performing organization, project managers, and project teams can be an asset (Gido & Clements, 2006) or a liability (PMI, 2004), depending upon the ways in which leadership handles the various interfaces (Olsson, 2006) involved in the project.

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, PHASES AND THEIR ROLES AND HOW

From the time a project is initiated until its termination or closure, quality decision making is built around people (Starns & Odom, 2006) concerned with various project phases. Whether those decisions help or hurt productivity depends on what people do with the information they have and the purpose for which the information is being put to use (Drucker, 1954). Project Teams Another important stakeholder in the project is the project team. As Adam (2009) asserted, building high-quality teams does not happen by accident. It often needs to be encouraged by a determined, goal-orientated involvement that fosters greater self-awareness. Project teams refer to people who are working alongside project managers to deliver the actual work (Huemann, 2010); a group of interdependent individuals working cooperatively to achieve the project objective (Gido & Clements, 2006); a collection of individuals who will work together to ensure the success of the project (Phillips, 2004); the group that is performing the work of the project (PMI 2004); or the group of people working towards a common objective (Dvir, 2005) to achieve success.

Project Initiation Phase Activities in the initiation, or the conceptualizing, phase mark the starting points of a project. Shenhar et al. (2007) asserted that the initiation phase of a project life cycle defines the strategic importance of the project to the enterprise. Other project experts have described the initiation stage of a project as the stage that defines and authorizes the project (Phillips, 2004; PMI, 2004); involves the identification of a need, problem, or opportunity; and can result in the customer requesting a proposal from a would-be performing organization (Gido & Clements, 2006).

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, PHASES AND THEIR ROLES AND HOW

This stage is characterized by the approval of a project charter. The power to launch the project or phase is given through a project charter (Phillips, 2004). Kerzner (2004) argued that the approval of the project charter is a generic process that often is omitted in organizations. Kerzner further stated that the project charter should be used to authorize work on the project; define the authority, responsibility, and accountability of the project team; and establish scope boundaries for the project. The project managers at RasGas align the objectives and priorities in accordance with the needs of its stakeholders who understand and accept the objectives laid down for the successful execution of the project.

Project Planning Phase If there is no plan, there is no control (Hutka, 2009). As Dai and Wells (2004) asserted, project failure rates remain high, despite the advantages of project management methodology. As a result, planning techniques have received enormous attention (Aramo-Immonen & Vanharanta, 2009; Kerzner, 2006a) based on the need for the appropriate control and management of largescale projects (Caughron & Mumford, 2008; Dvir, 2005) to curb this failure rate. Effective planning contributes to the implementation of innovative ideas and influences the creative problem-solving process at much earlier stages of project development (Caughron & Mumford, 2008); enables accurate cost estimates to be produced; acts as an early warning system and keeps the project team focused (Gelbard & Carmeli, 2009); and reduces risks and the time required to complete the project (Sderholm, 2008). Effective planning can help in the development of strategic information for customers to address risk and decide whether to commit

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, PHASES AND THEIR ROLES AND HOW

resources to maximize the likelihood of a successful project (Griffith, Gibson, Hamilton, Tortora, & Wilson, 1999). Other researchers in the field of project management have defined planning as the mechanism for translating strategic objectives into tactical actions (Aramo-Immonen & Vanharanta, 2009); an iterative process handled within the planning process group (Phillips, 2004); the art of asking, Who, What, When, Why, How Much, and How Long? and the determination of what needs to be done, by whom, and by when in order to fulfill ones assigned responsibility (Kerzner, 2006a); preparation for the commitment of resources (Caughron & Mumford, 2008); determination of the details about the project (Wysocki, 2007); and the process of defining and maturing the project scope, developing the project management plan, and identifying and scheduling the project activities that occur within the project (PMI, 2004). Project planning is not a one-time approach; rather, it is an iterative process (Phillips, 2004; PMI, 2004). Phillips claimed that project managers and their team return to the planning processes as often as needed throughout the project. As a result, experts in managing projects have suggested that the best approach is to allow planning to go through incremental or continuous process, otherwise known as progressive elaboration (Gido & Clements, 2006; Kerzner, 2006a, 2006b; Phillips, 2004; PMI, 2004) until the planning baseline has been produced. During the planning phase, the project managers and their teams meet, except when the project is virtual, to effectively plan their execution of the project. The activities entail planning the scope, cost, schedule, risks, quality, communication, human resources, contract, and procurement (PMI, 2004). Planning these aforementioned knowledge area perspectives requires the completion of a WBS to define the work necessary to produce the deliverables (AramoImmonen & Vanharanta, 2009).

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, PHASES AND THEIR ROLES AND HOW

The breakdown of major tasks into smaller tasks is a fundamental measure of project management effectiveness that project planners use to make more accurate forecasts and reduce biases in estimation and undesirable behavior effects. The WBS also enable the work to be done better and more economically (Taylor, 1998) to avoid the overlap of resources allocations and allocate sufficient time for each project activity (Schachter, 2004) with a clear goal and objectives (Besner & Hobbs, 2006; Gido & Clements, 2006; Kerzner, 2006a; Morrison & Brown, 2004; Schachter, 2004). Other vital activities, as Khang and Moe (2008) stated, are to mobilize support and commitment; negotiate for final approval from the major stakeholder/s; provide updates to other various stakeholders, and envision an overview of how the project will be executed, together with definite and attainable tasks and milestones (Schachter, 2004) before commencing the execution phase of the project life cycle. Project Execution Phase The execution of a project begins after a careful planning baseline has been produced. This process allows the project team and vendors to move forward and complete the work outlined in the planning process (Phillips, 2004). Executing a project also refers to implementing the project plan. This is a crucial stage of the project that requires a total commitment of resources and time. Consequently, one of the most significant measures of effectiveness in the execution stage is to ensure that the individuals who were involved in the planning process should also implement the plan (PMI, 2004). Other important activities at this stage are to carry out the project activities as planned and manage relationships with stakeholders effectively (Khang & Moe, 2008) to ascertain that the project is on target. Controlling or Monitoring Phase

PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, PHASES AND THEIR ROLES AND HOW

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Projects should be controlled and monitored very closely by the project managers. Controlling or monitoring the project goes hand in hand with the execution process (PMI, 2004). An effective project management cycle (Gido & Clements, 2006; Kerzner, 2006a; Phillips, 2004; PMI, 2004) must integrate project control process throughout the project life. Khang and Moe (2008) as well as Phillips (2009) argued that at this stage of the project, project managers must check that the deliverables of the phases are in alliance with the project scope, cost, and schedule; constantly demand progress reports from the project team; and constantly report project performance with top management and the customer; and control the project budget and expenses. The key to effectively control a project, according to Gido and Clements (2006), is to measure actual progress; compare it to planned progress in a timely manner and on a regular basis; and take corrective action without delay, if necessary, before closing out the project. Project Closeout Phase This is the stage (Khang & Moe, 2008) to test the project outputs, complete the final report, settle all financial transactions with all those involved with the project, hand over the project output to the customer, document the lesson learned, reward the team, and dissolve or reassign the team to other projects. Project completion calls for a celebration (Phillips, 2004; Schachter, 2004). However, not all projects end successfully. Some projects may be terminated before getting to this stage, especially when the reason for the project is no longer warranted. In whatever form the project ends, lesson learned during all the phases of the project life cycle must be properly documented to avoid making the same mistakes and to act as a point of reference toward achieving future project success.

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