Case Study: A Day in the Life
Reread the A Day in the Life case study in chapter 1 (pages 19-21). This case is worth revisiting after studying project management for the last session. Has your opinion of Rachel’s work changed since the first time you read the case. If so, how? If not, why not?
It appears to me that Rachel’s interaction and transparency throughout the company pays dividends; she is known by many people all over the place. These relationships can definitely help prevent misunderstandings, and can build trust. Rachel spent too much time on non-work related activities during the day such as taking a break to listen to music, “socializing and catching up on personal news” and taking a walk and chatting with fellow employees which leads her to missing an important call from a client. There was also a communication breakdown between her team as well as the marketing department which had made “certain promises about specific features her system would provide” which she did not know about until much later into the project. She also could have used MS Project (MSP) to better plan the schedule of her team members as she shared personnel with Victoria. Instead of “working with what-if scenarios” she could have used MSP baseline function to better compare the current status of her project.
Erik W. Larson (2011). Project Management w/ Project 2007 CD and Student CD  (VitalSource Bookshelf), Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/0077588975/id/id_0073403342_001_001450
As manger project the first thing to do is to check the progress of it and communicate with the team every morning. Rachel should spent more time monitoring the project status for any deviations from the plan and if any corrective action will be needed to bring the project back in line. She could have set herself up for a successful project with some work in the beginning. As you have mention Microsoft Project would have been an excellent place to start. The work would have been delegated and everyone would understand how the job is progressing and who is responsible for what. Rachel should have had a risk management plan in place so everyone knew how to handle problems. A communication plan should have been in place prior to the project as well. Lastly, team building should have been more of a priority for her. I believe that Rachel could have been more efficient with her work schedule. Her socializing time should be decreased in order for her to be more productive and prompt returned calls and emails earlier in the day rather than later on. Her communication skills are good, however since she was out of the office the day before, one of her top priorities should have been returning calls and emails. I can see how a project manager’s daily life can be very active, she could have found additional help to help her take some work off her hands. For instance, she could have had someone else check her messages for her and given her those messages and let Rachel know which messages were a bigger priority over the other. By having too much, a person can easily feel overwhelmed with all that work.
How do you think Rachel managed the expectations of the customer? Why is this an important part of the job?
A project is completed because a client has asked for it. When the client approves a project, it’s important to make the client aware that any changes in the scope will affect the time, schedule and budget. So it’s best to get the scope as perfect as possible to prevent that from happening. Promised deliverables have to be set in stone before the start of the project to prevent this from happing. At the same time, if someone within your organization is promising the client something you did not agree upon or promised as a deliverable, you must notify your client of the issue and make them aware of the original agreement. Apologize for the inconvenience but let them know it’s possible to deliver those things but not without affecting the overall time and budget. But it’s important to be honest and sincere to your client. Keep them informed on major events and informed on any possible setbacks that cannot be avoided. A weekly or bi-weekly progress report might serve some good to keep clients updated with progress and keep them at ease.
She handled the customer’s expectations about as well as she could. When the customer calls stating that they were promised something, all you can do is get the customer’s version then go speak with the people who made the promise and the rest of senior leadership. She began making alternate timelines (what-if scenarios) based upon the possible changing requirements. All you can do at this point is to plan for the possibilities and be ready to respond to the customer with what will have to take place to make it happen. Ultimately, the customer must be satisfied and obligations must be met. Along these same lines, the project cannot survive if the customer continues to move the target. We have one very needy customer on our current contract. Every week there’s some new major priority and the statement of “I thought the system would do this, but it doesn’t.” Our deputy program manager cannot handle the customer and we have a mounting backlog of change requests to work through because the deputy always responds with “Yeah, we can do that.”
Rachel could’ve managed the expectations of the customer a little bit better. She should have communicated more frequently with the customer and kept them in the loop. By keeping promises she made to the customer, and providing a quick response shows that Rachel knows what her expectations are. Even though her daily life is full of other tasks, she needs to prioritize them a little bit better and reply to those more promptly. She needs to meet the customer’s expectations because it is important to the business. If she is unable to do so, the business and revenue could possibly be affected. By taking the time to understand what the customer’s expectations is the primary step to meeting their demands. Rachel and her team should have done some research what the customers desires are and how to plan and come across those requests are and apply those approaches. This is extremely important because it could lead to repeat business, the customers will continue to be loyal and earnings and sales will be at a preferred
My opinion of Rachel’s work in the case study is steadily the same but now I put more focus on what she valued the most in her project management skills. She showed that she did want to get personal and communicate in person with her team. Although she didn’t repond to call quickly, she went around team members to see what was goinig on. She trusted her own instincts and really didn’t have to justify here decisions to anybody because she know she would have to live with the results.
What are some successful practices of Rachel’s that you can take with you and apply to any future projects of yours?
The three major practices I noticed was her ability to manage time wisely, communicate effectively and her ability to take needed breaks to clear her head of the fast paced environment. These are all very important practices that must be utilized to be successful. Time management is very important when you deal with a number of complex issues. You have e-mails, phone calls, team members to lead, bosses to keep happy and clients to satisfy, plus managing the project. If you are not able to manage your time wisely, then you will easily fall behind creating much more strain and stress which could affect the project and how you manage. As far as breaks, they are essential. You can’t work 10-12 hour days with just an hour lunch. You will reach burnout very quick. Rachel took breaks to clear her head and slow down a bit. She didn’t just sit in her office staring at the wall but incorporated a stress relieving activity into her breaks like listening to relaxing music or going on a short walk. This can rejuvenate your body and mind making you feel more fresh and clear headed leading to more productivity.
Some jobs allow their co-workers to take a nap at lunch in order to recuperate and have a fresh start for the second part of the day. Technology has us to the point where we are easily accessible through phone or email and since most companies are global, time zones are different and people get calls at different times of the day and night. taking time to clear your mind is a good thing and talking to someone about something else besides work also clears your mind and helps you to refocus. I believe that Rachel has a relationship with her employees where they confide in her. Although Rachel stops briefly to have side bar conversations, her time management skills seem to be ok. She answers e-mails, participates in meetings, returns phone calls, deals with issues an done thin g that I believe that she does well is that if they are there in the office, she goes to them personally to speak with them. She doe snot send an e-mail or call, she goes to the office to address the issue and to come out with some type of resolution.
She was able to have many different meetings with different people throughout the day. If I’m ever in a project management position I need to remember to not focus on one task for the day. It’s important to keep up with all of the team on a regular basis. Rachael had good organizational and leadership experience that helped her organize her work and lead others. Coordinating and communicating with various team members and also helping out when they need help is a good skill to have. Rachel was an effective project manager by taking and receiving information from one individual to another. She also effectively assigned job assignments within the group and helped her team out when they were behind or needed the additional help. She had a good relationship with everyone and is open to opinions and suggestions. Even though her job was very fast paced, she was able to keep assignments organized and took breaks when she felt the need. Taking breaks are important to clear your head and to avoid any unneeded stress.