Breath of Clarity

Environmental Project Management-Assigned Problems #1

Understanding sources of conflict enables a project manager to be proactive and enjoy the art of resolution. A source of conflict occurs when the project manager takes a risk and processes or outcomes do not result as planned. Having uncertainty about any element of the project before proceeding forward creates conflict. For example, there may be a work package lacking for a certain task requiring time and resources. Conflict arises when a stakeholder perceives interests have been or are about to be compromised by another party’s interests. In the case a project manager makes the choice to sub-optimize, the stakeholder may feel as though other interests are being prioritized that do not contribute to the project’s original, overall goal. In the case a project manager is particularly thorough in scope to the extent it becomes a trade-off after costing the stakeholder additional funds, the stakeholder may get frustrated. Interdependencies can create conflict if one task needs to be completed before another and takes longer than expected. For example, a vendor may show up with important equipment after the delivery date. It can alter the entire project’s schedule which may result in the stakeholder being upset. Figure 1.3 revealed a project’s start-up phase is relatively slow compared to task execution. If the stakeholder does not understand the time distribution from the beginning, conflict may arise. During the project execution phase, a stakeholder may not appreciate outsourced organizations being involved if he/she did not personally approve the collaboration. At the same time, a stakeholder may not want to be antagonized with questions. Also, if the project manager does not close out the project to a steady-state of operation the stakeholder can handle, conflict can emerge. To bring further complications, conflict can arise when the project manager needs to satisfy multiple stakeholders and multiple teams with differing opinions. Overall, understanding needs of all, keeping communication lines open across the project’s lifecycle, and fulfilling expectations are safe strategies to minimize conflict. In addition to the direct project goals, organizations may have a unique set of ancillary project goals that are unarticulated but nevertheless important to the success of the project. Conflict arises as projects compete with functional departments for resources and personnel. Further, a multi project organization may experience conflict in regards to how to allocate its resources. The project manager’s inability to take all desired goals into account is a source of conflict. Rather, a project manager must take into account the health of the stakeholders, project team and the rest of organizations.

There are also trade-offs amongst the three prime objectives of project management. A trade off is the sacrifice of one objective in order to do better on another. The three prime objectives of project management are to meet specified scope within budget and on schedule. Interdependency is a major cause of trade-offs. There is competition for scarce resources amongst multiple different projects. Projects also have limited budgets. The complexity of problems and multi-organizational aspects of the project is a reason for the necessity of trade-offs. Particularly in the context of a quasi-project, risk is a reason for trade-offs because a project manager inevitably needs to adjust based on the outcome being unexpected. Any actions taken to deal with parts of the total project impact other parts of the system. A project manager may set a due date and budget without enough information to do so and then ends up having to de-scope the deliverables in order to meet those limits. However, when scope takes precedent at the beginning of a life cycle, it minimizes risk but project workers sometimes become preoccupied with improving scope, often beyond the levels required by the original specifications. This search for better scope delays the schedule and pushes up the costs. Typically, if a project manager takes a risk by increasing scope at no additional cost, then time is compromised. Paying for resources to increase efficiency would add to the project’s cost but save time. In the project example of turning London’s waste dump into the 2012 olympics stadium, the manager was under urgency to meet a mid-2011 completion deadline and responded by quickly assembling a diverse team. It involved a costly crew with 60 scientists and technicians who processed 800,000 tons of soil. While the project remained on schedule, having all the resources to do so required a high cost. Later on in the cycle, the project manager discovered the planned steel-seemed roof would create turbulence on the compact field and increased scope to design a lighter, more flexible roof. In order to stay within budget, the team brought together recycled materials which resulted in a wider scope of project. As a project manager adjusts throughout the life cycle, the nature of the required decisions hold trade-offs.