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PPDI5039 Project Design And Implementation

tag 0 Download 0 Pages / 0 Words tag 19-06-2022

Answer:

Background to the Project 

The project is about preparing for and organizing for a crowdsourcing event to raise funds for housing in support for Greenwich Thames Research, an organization that provides housing for adults with a history of offending behavior. The event has bee requested by the GSM London’s External Engagement Lead and will be undertaken during the ‘Greenwich Multicultural Day’. Our team aims at utilizing crowd funding from the local community including business people, residents, and well wishers to raise funds for the Greenwich Thames Research housing project.  In undertaking this project, the author aims at demonstrating skills in experiential learning, based on taught learning theories and to demonstrate skills in project management and how they can be applied in future real life/ career situations and demonstrate how this learning will improve my career in future. This event is important in using low-cost community based methods to raise funs for housing for adults with low to medium support needs and have historically had offending behavior, alcohol and/ or drug abuse. This will help in assimilating these groups into society and provide them support that can go a long way in stabilizing their lives.

Trans-Disciplinary Models

This project is done on the premise of experiential learning, and will be based on Kolb’s experiential learning theory which posits that the learning process follows a cycle made up of four stages namely concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and concrete experience. The author and team engaged in the actual crowdfunding  initiative, starting from planning to execution and closure, and using the Kolb’s theory, will reflect on the learning and discuss what was done, what was not done, processes, lessons learned and their value.

An Assessment of Project Phases

The group has developed a plan of action that will be used to undertake the crowdsourcing project for GSM. However, it was not always easy to come to a consensus given that everyone in the group had different ideas and approaches on how to undertake the crowdsourcing project. To overcome this challenge; we decided to give each person specific tasks, based on their willingness to undertake it and personal attributes (strengths). Further, we had specific issues to discuss at every meeting and elected a team leader whose role was to give direction and moderate the meetings. The team, under the team leader, created ground rules for all meetings and the team leader made us all aware that conflict occurs in teams; what is important is solving them (Mersino 2014). This prepared us mentally for conflicts that could arise and when the conflicts arose, both sides of the perspective were discussed, and if there was no consensus, the team voted to resolve the issue. The project plan was developed with the help of a Project Management software. We set ourselves a target and developed a plan for communications (of which I was the lead); the communications plan was aimed at ensuring we communicated effectively both within the team and with the relevant stakeholders. The communications plan included an elaborate plan on how to reach as many members of the Greenwich community as possible and create awareness for the housing initiative and allow for feedback and input from the community members.

The team also developed milestones with time lines, following from the project plan. The project was then executed; with stakeholders communicated to and relevant stakeholders met to plan for the Greenwich Multicultural Day event by getting the relevant permissions and permits, setting the event stage and grounds, and organizing for incidentals, including ensuring security of all attendants and having emergency teams nearby. Based on the budget and timelines, the team made every effort to manage these effectively as well as get the community to participate (Young 2007), and importantly; volunteer the necessary financial commitment for the GTR housing initiative. At the end of the event, the team developed a project closure report, which is the basis for the project closure. In the closure, the team evaluated the criteria for completion, based on the project plan and handing over the ‘finished project’ to the GTR. The closure was followed by a post project implementation review where the team members had one last meeting to undertake the post project review, where the successes were identified and discussed, achievements made, the deliverables, and any lessons learned for future reference and areas to improve on (Gardiner 2011).

Skills Developed for Solving Problems

The project did not only entail managing the specific project issues and deliverables; people, resources, time, and finances had to be effectively managed (Parker & Craig 2008). To assure a higher probability of meeting the project aims and objectives, the team sought to use a schedule of systematic activities to execute the project, but using a life cycle framework to ensure professionalism, enable us implement theoretical concepts, and experience in real life what project management entails, as well as identify challenges. Based on the Kolb’s experiential learning cycle, the team was able to experience project management from inception to completion, where reflection becomes an integral component of learning. The team gained valuable experiences, as did I as an individual within the team; I learned why a project management life cycle is an important framework for managing projects.  For instance, I always believed that conflict is a bad thing that creates negative energy, causes unnecessary and unhealthy disagreements,  and holds back the progress of a project and was absolutely undesirable. However, using a project management life cycle and following on the Kolb’s experiential learning cycle, I have come to the conclusion that conflicts are inevitable in any team activity; what is important is their management. Using the model has given me valuable experience in project planning, management, and closure; I learned how problems can and should be solved, the value of project planning, and why using a project management life cycle approach provides a step-wise method for project execution to increase the chances of achieving the project objectives (Liu 2014).

By being forced to make changes mid way, I learned the real value of having an effective risk and change management plan while undertaking a project. Since we did not put a lot of effort in this during planning, it adversely affected the execution of the project when changes had to be made and having to deviate from the original project plan. I have come to the conclusion that managing projects is not just about managing events, resources, and processes; it also entails managing people, which in my experience is the most challenging aspect of any project management (Lock & Scott 2016). People will always have different opinions, display aspects of power play and power games, and  disagree just for the sake of it. Further, the project was executed by different team members being allocated roles, and so people management skills and approaches have to be applied in managing people active within a project. Further, people management, I have come to learn, must be aligned to the project management cycle used and to make people understand what was required to achieve the project objectives, all team members had to be made to understand the entire project management life cycle.

What has been done

 In undertaking the crowdsourcing project, the team made use of the project management life cycle as the de-facto framework (Westland 2010). The team used the project management framework and process to undertake this project. The team developed a business case for the project to justify the importance of the project and why crowdsourcing would be the best approach to meeting the project objective. A project team was then formed and members given roles to undertake; after all these activities, the team sat down and undertook a phase review of what was supposed to be done and what we did and benchmarked our performance. This was an eye opener for me since I had taken it for granted that each project was justified by the mere fact that there was an intention to undertake it. I also learned that a feasibility study is essential before commencing any project as it helped us develop alternatives on how to solve the problem and meet our goals as well as helping us define the challenge in a clear context before proceeding to the planning stage.

What was changed

The communications plan was changed significantly and adjusted in line with the reality of demographics. Initially, the plan was that the event is publicized using the local radio and TV channels and individually inviting community members through social media. However we realized social media through individual invitations would be an underutilization of its potential. The team therefore, resolved to use paid social media adverts through platforms such as facebook, Twitter, and Instagram such that targeted adverts were sent to recipients of interest (residents of Greenwich). For established businesses and organizations, personalized letters were sent as follow-ups to earlier sent e-mail campaigns. While the team had decided to have the person in charge of communications handle all communication, an extra role was added; that of a publicist to handle publicity. The project plan was also changed given that the team did not have control of all aspects of the project as there were many stakeholders involved. Further, the team changed the financial plan to reflect changes made in communications channels used and publicity. Changes in projects are inevitable, and are part and parcel of the project management process (Meng 2012)

What was not done

While the team made every effort to undertake the project as professionally and feasibly as possible; the team did not develop a risk plan and a risk management plan. The risk management plan is important since every project or initiative has inherent risks that can have adverse effects to the intended outcome. Failure to do this resulted in several changes having to be made and this affected the time and finance management; further, the team did not have an effective change management plan. A risk management and change management plan was not implemented because of time constraints and the belief that effective planning eliminated risks; which was a naive way of looking at it. We made assumptions, rather than undertake all steps in the project management life cycle and also because the team felt this was not a strictly financial/ business project done on behalf of a customer, but a social project.

Author Contribution

I was part of the project team, specifically charged with handling all aspects of communication, and later publicity. Apart from this main role, I was involved in all the stages, contributing ideas during our meetings so the project could progress. However, being in charge of communications and publicity required working with different various stakeholders (external players) including the GTR, the law enforcement agencies, the local council officials, media houses, and the general population. Further, I had to jot down all meeting proceedings and ensure these were sent to all the team members and ensure everybody was at the ‘same page’ in the entire project duration. These are the internal players and I had to ensure communication was effective (Rajkumar 2010). Looking back, doing certain things made me anxious; such as making cold-calls to businesses and organizations and getting them to buy our idea; the project had to be communicated effectively and in a manner that the stakeholders would understand and respond positively. I kept communication alive by communicating in a timely manner and making several follow ups with parties that I had contacted, all the while keeping the team updated on progress and where I was facing challenges and needed help.

Effective communication is essential for the success of a project and I had to understand effectively the communication process, as the goal of communication is to create ‘commonness’. I had to determine who the recipients of each communication were, and choose the most suitable and cost-effective medium for communication, as well as fashioning the message in a manner that was concise and unambiguous. Most of the time during the project, communication took a significant portion and was essential for the success of the project (Rajkumar 2010). Earlier, conflicts and disagreements dragged down everyone, a situation I responded to by suggesting we develop a mechanism for conflict resolution to help us all move forward. For me, the critical success factors were having a unified and clear vision of what was to be achieved and an effective strategy for achieving the vision; this also required effective communication.

Human capital and its effective management was also a critical success factor while the communications medium/ infrastructure, I can now aver, was the most critical component in achieving the projects’ success. The project and I required a communication medium that was reliable, cost effective, and enhanced crowd participation; the medium also has to be suitable for a particular crowd . I realized we had to develop trust with the ‘crowd’ and other stakeholders, on the understanding that crowdsourcing needs significant amounts of information and time costs that the ‘crowd’ incurs. The initiative had ton be effectively communicated to align the motive with those of the crowd while the external environment consisting of governance support, the economic environment, the business environment, social factors, risk profiles and the living environment were also considered and managed through communication to achieve the project objectives (Meier 2010) (See Appendix I).  To ensure project success, the team had to look at the crowd as an integral partner in the initiative (Vassallo 2017)

Conclusions

This project was aimed at crowdsourcing for funds, at the behest of GSM London's External Engagement Lead to support Greenwich Thames Reach provide housing for people with historical offending behavior, during the Greenwich Multicultural Day. The aim was to demonstrate the ability to provide a portfolio of evidence in managing a project, identify and articulate development of skills related to work and demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of project background, use relevant theories in managing projects and project management methodologies before and during project implementation. The chosen project is justified since crowdsourcing is an effective way to raise funds by involving communities. The project management life cycle was used as the framework where the project was initiated, planned, executed, and closed. I made a contribution being in charge of publicity and communication. I have learned valuable lessons on effective project management, the value of effective communication during projects, and important success factors for success of projects and crowdsourcing. I have also learned conflict resolution and why risk and change management strategies are essential for project success.

References

Gardiner, P. D., 2011, Project management: a strategic planning approach. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

Liu, S. B., 2014, ‘Crisis Crowdsourcing Framework: Designing Strategic Configurations of Crowdsourcing for the Emergency Management Domain. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)’, The Journal of Collaborative Computing and Work Practices, 23, 389-443.

Meng, X., 2012), ‘The effect of relationship management on project performance in construction’, International Journal of Project Management, 30, 188-198.

Meier, P.P., 2010, ‘How to Run a Successful Crowdsourcing Project’ in iRevolutions, viewed  22 Aug. 2017, from https://irevolutions.org/2010/05/05/towards-a-model-for-successful-crowdsourcing/ 

Mersino, A., 2014, ‘Emotional intelligence for project managers the people skills you need to achieve outstanding results : [Summary]’, Kennett Square, Pa., Soundview Executive Book Summaries. http://www.books24x7.com/marc.asp?bookid=59485.

Parker, D. W., & Craig, M. A., 2008, Managing projects, managing people, South Yarra, Vic, Macmillan Education.

Rajkumar, S., 2010, ‘Art of communication in project management’ in Art of Effective Communication in Project Management, viewed 22 Aug. 2017, from https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/effective-communication-better-project-management-6480  

Vassallo, W., 2017, Crowdfunding for sustainable entrepreneurship and innovation, Hershey, PA, USA, Business Science Reference, viewed from  http://services.igi-global.com/resolvedoi/resolve.aspx?doi=10.4018/978-1-5225-0568-6.

Westland, J., 2010, The project management life cycle: a complete step-by-step methodology for initiating, planning, executing & closing a project successfully, New York, Wiley & Sons

Young, T. L., 2007, The handbook of project management: a practical guide to effective policies, techniques and processes. London, Kogan Page.

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