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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Project Cost and Cost Management

There are many sites on the web that deal with project cost calculation, but there seem to be few actual cost calculators available.  One of the sites I found useful in helping me understand the process was created by popular how-to site www.ehow.com.  This site is helpful in particular for two reasons:  first, it offers a step-by-step approach to cost calculation; second, it offers links to cost calculation tools.  The full link is:

http://www.ehow.com/how_6566042_calculate-project-costs.html

As you make your way down the page, you’ll find simple, straightforward advice in layman’s terms about projecting the costs of a project, again supplemented with sponsored links to tools to help in the actual process.  Finally, there are three tips and warnings at the bottom of the page which should be helpful to any aspiring project manager.

I save the more useful site for second place in this week’s blog:  http://www.projectmanagementdocs.com/blog/managing-costs-on-your-project.html

Project Management Docs is a site full of templates for all phases of project management.  I have bookmarked the site for use throughout the rest of the Project Management course, and for use well beyond my time at Walden University.  The site features templates for cost estimation, cost management, GANTT charting, and more, and will prove useful for anyone not yet willing to invest in a full-scope project management software package.  I encourage you to visit and bookmark the site!

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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
Aside

Written, Audio, and Face to Face – Which is Best?

Face to Face
(Image captured from http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6145/03/mm/aoc/index.html)

Many, in discussing the impact of communication, have quoted – or rather, misquoted a 1967 study performed at UCLA by Albert Mehrabian, which appeared to show that only 7% of communication is through words (www.changingminds.org, n.d.), with the remainder comprised of tone and body language.  While multiple sources – including Mehrabian’s own web site -have shown that it was not Mehrabian’s intent to apply this percentage to all communication (Mehrabian, 2011), and some have attempted to debunk his research altogether, the fact remains that nonverbal cues such as tone and body language do impact perception of communication.  Again from www.changingminds.org:

“Useful extensions to this understanding are:

  • It’s not just words: a lot is communication comes through non-verbal communication.
  • Without seeing and hearing non-verbals, it is easier to misunderstand the words.
  • When we are unsure about what the words mean, we pay more attention to the non-verbals.

We will also pay more attention to the non-verbal indicators when we trust the person less and suspect deception…”

The site goes on to say that one of the most practical applications of this extension is to be wary of communication that contains only words – specifically citing email!  In the example from our class resources, I began as I read the email communication to add my own inflection to the words – inflection that was substantially different from that of the second audio-only example!  The implication of this is clear: someone reading this very communication requesting a report so that her own would not be late could very well interpret the email as angry, even though the specific language was both polite and professional!

Even the audio was imperfect.  There were a couple of moments in the audio communication that I perceived annoyance on the part of the speaker.  The words seemed a little “short” – perhaps even terse.  Yet, when I watched the face to face version, the speaker’s expression betrayed none of this.  She was communicating a simple request, offering her reason for the request, and communicating her consideration of the hearer’s situation!

Going forward, whenever I read “that” email, I need to remember that what I read may not be what the writer intended.  Further, as I write an email, I must be mindful of my readers’ perceptions.  Would it be better to call and leave a message?  Almost certainly.  Better still, when possible get face to face with the hearer.  Fortunately, in today’s technology-advanced world, there are ways to do so even when distant from the receiver of the communication, such as the many video chat applications available.  As an aspiring Project Manager, I could save the lost productivity and hard feelings that could arise by following this simple precept.

References

Face to Face Conversation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6145/03/mm/aoc/index.html

Mehrabian’s communication study. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/explanations/behaviors/body_language/mehrabian.htm

Mehrabian, A. (n.d.). “Silent Messages” — Description and Ordering Information. Retrieved from http://www.kaaj.com/psych/smorder.html

Written, Audio, and Face to Face – Which is Best?

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

A Failure to Communicate

It had been years since the church had even attempted to have a “missions convention” – an extended weekend dedicated to hosting and supporting missionaries.  The idea of hosting our first under the church’s new leadership was welcomed enthusiastically, and I volunteered to put the convention together.  There were to be many moving parts to such an endeavor, and I believed that I understood the process of coordinating them well enough to construct a successful weekend.

I began to coordinate the resources for the project, gaining commitments from three missionaries who would come as our guest speakers for the weekend and arranging their accommodations and meals, coordinating the advertising for the weekend, and even putting together a team of ushers so that all who came to visit during the services would be welcome and comfortable.  As the date approached, I shared my progress confidently with the missions team.  All was going swimmingly, until I got the phone call from a very upset chairman of the church’s ladies group.

There was a term with which I am now familiar that I had no understanding of back then: “stakeholder.”  Portny et al  (2008) define stakeholders as those “who support or are affected by a project.”  The latter half of that definition described the chairman on the phone with me.  In my enthusiasm for the convention, I had neglected to consider how the convention would impact the church’s other ministries, and in that neglect had inadvertently scheduled the convention during the weekend that had traditionally been reserved for the ladies’ annual Christmas bazaar and church tag sale.  They had done the bazaar for more than two decades, always on the first weekend of December – a history I was unaware of when I set the dates for the missions event.

I was painted into a corner.  By the time I received the call it was too late to cancel the missionaries – they would not be able to fill the weekend on just four weeks’ notice.  The ladies were adamant about holding their bazaar on its traditional weekend, and we were sadly left with a divided congregation for the weekend.  Many came to the missions convention, but it was not nearly the success it should have been, and could have been if I had communicated more effectively and in a more timely manner.  The debacle caused hostility between the missions and ladies’ ministries that took months to resolve.  Portny lists both poor communication and failing to involve stakeholders as pitfalls that need to be identified and corrected early in a project.  Had I known and followed his advice, the winter of 1995 would have been a warmer one around our little church.

Resource

Portny, S. E., Kramer, B. E., Mantel, S., Meredith, J., Shafer, S., & Sutton, M. (2008). Project management. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Uncategorized