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Mastering Project Management - Skills and Tools for Success

Module summary

Module summary

Mastering project management is crucial to organisations in the 21st century. Recognising the importance of both tools and techniques as well as human and organisational factors in achieving project success, the module enables students to learn the ‘hard’ science essential for project managers today, but with the crucial emphasis on the soft skills involved in managing people and change in order to help achieve delivery of successful projects. 

Through extensive case study analysis, and with insight from current research, you will evaluate the role of the project manager in today’s workplace and critically review the rise of the project-centric organisation in a global context.  Relating theory to practical reality in the light of the current research, you will understand new best practice in project management and how it impacts organisations seeking to run effective projects, both locally and across international borders.  

Learning objectives

1. Knowledge outcomes – you will be able to demonstrate a critical understanding of the skills and competencies needed by project managers and selectively apply the relevant tools and techniques available to address challenges and solve problems involved in managing complex international projects, in line with organisations’ strategic direction.

2. Cognitive skills outcomes – you will be able to create, enhance and critique project planning documentation as well as applying soft skills in a team leadership context and recognizing and initiating change in organisations.

Assessment 1: Literature Review

You are required to review two separate academic journal articles that both discuss the same sub-area of project management such as risk, the triple constraint, stakeholder management, team dynamics, project communications, cross-cultural issues, methodologies, etc. Summarise these two articles, comparing and contrasting them. Discuss the lessons that can be learned from these articles and how these lessons may help form ‘best practice’ guidance for projects managers around the world.  In addition, you must include a discussion on how your chosen sub-topic impacts truly international projects. For example, how does risk management change when working across international teams or what are the problems in stakeholder management when dealing with multiple cultures?  Conclude your work by applying these articles to your understanding of best practice in project management. What do these articles teach you about how best to manage projects, especially with an international element? What would you do differently as a project manager now that you have analysed these articles in depth? (40% of total module mark).  A breakdown of marking criteria for your report is given below:

Learning objectives

1. Choice and summary of the articles (20%)
2. Comparing, contrasting and critiquing these articles (20%)
3. Lessons learned and application to best practice (30%)
4. Specific reflection on learning for international projects (20%)
5. Overall quality of writing, presentation and academic standards (referencing syntax, etc.). (

Assessment 2: Case Study Analysis

You are required to choose from the following project case studies, all of which are relatively well documented online and in textbooks. Note that some are great successes, some are terrible failures and some could be argued either way depending on your perspective. All are well documented but do make sure you focus on the way project management processes were (or were not) followed and do not use up large word count on engineering or technical descriptions as this is not an engineering module:

•Space Shuttle Challenger testing and launch
• Crossrail implementation on London’s tube network
• Siemens Business Services – UK Passport system development and launch
• RMS Titanic design and build
•Burj Khalifa Dubai design and build
• The Shard design and build
• British Aerospace Concorde design and build
• American Airlines merger with US Airways (2013)
• Boeing 787 development
• London Ambulance Service Computer Aided despatch system (1992)

You job for this assignment is to analyse and critique the success or failure of the project specifically in terms of its project management capability and to tell us what you have learned from this. For example, it is well known that Titanic sank on her maiden voyage, but was that a failure of project management or something else? Burj Khalifa was an engineering success story but, as a project, can it, and should it, be seen as successful?  Do not get distracted by detail of the engineering processes or technical design. These may be important but your focus MUST be on the application of the project management process throughout the project’s lifecycle.  Specifically, analyse the case’s approach to risk management and stakeholder management. You will draw on the perspectives of project management best practice and academic literature (including, where relevant, your work in assignment 1) and demonstrate your understanding of how the case does or does not reflect this best practice. The tasks and marking criteria are as follows:  

1. Discuss and critique the project team’s approach to the management of project risk (20%)

2. Analyse the approach to stakeholder management (20%)

3. Decide to what extent you believe the project (or some aspects of it) should be seen as a success. Critique and compare your view with that of others (media, investors, employees, etc.) and justify your position. (20%)

4. Having reviewed risk management, stakeholder management and the success or failure of the project what lessons can be learned from this that will help the profession of project management.  Specifically, if you were writing an article for the Association of Project Managers what would you highlight to the readers to help them in their careers and to do their own jobs better? (30%)

5. Overall quality of writing, presentation and academic standards (referencing syntax, etc.). (10%)

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