Web-based Project Management and Project Selection - Business

Web-based Project Management and Project Selection   by Robert Steele

in Business    (submitted 2011-05-20)

The five factors that affect a project are commonly categorized as scope, time, cost, risk, and quality. Analysis of these five categories will guide a project to completion. However, they weave in and out of each other so frequently that it is often difficult to observe each category exclusively or objectively. That said, I wish to suggest that when it comes to the selection of a project, these categories are preceded by three other elements. Adapted from the book An Introduction to Project Management, author Kathy Schwalbe explains that one "method for selecting projects is based on their response to a problem, an opportunity, or a directive" (56). These are the first elements that arise in the selection of a new project. These three factors are especially important in today's web-based project management world, where businesses encounter problems, opportunities, and directives at an almost instantaneous speed. Below, I wish to explore these three factors of project selection, particularly in their relationship to web-based project management.

From Problem to Project

First, a project may be selected due to a problem that faces a business. The problem is then addressed according to the five factors of project constraint as addressed above. In her book, Schwalbe provides an example of a problem. She writes, "problems are undesirable situations that prevent an organization from achieving its goals. These problems can be current or anticipated. For example, if a bridge in a major city collapses, that problem must be addressed as soon as possible. If a bridge is known to need repairs to prevent a collapse, a project should be initiated soon to take care of it" (56). In other words, Schwalbe suggests that the bigger a problem, the more important the project. When a problem is addressed and a project is selected, then other factors will be taken into account.

With web-based project management, problems are much easier to address, and the shift from problem to project is much more efficient. For one, the problem is communicated faster. Secondly, because project details, documents, etc, are stored on a single web-based all-accessible system, project managers can collaborate between each other, offer feedback, and always know what resources are available. Additionally, executive level can view the company's problems as a whole, and more informed decisions can be made.

From Opportunity to Project

Second, a project may be selected as business opportunities arise. Schwalbe writes that "opportunities are chances to improve the organization. For example, a company might want to revamp its website to attract more visitors to the site" (56). When an opportunity arises in which a project is created, then the analysis of project scope, time, cost, etc. follows.

Now, opportunity may seem an obvious reason to select a project, but because companies deal with different situations and/or offer different services, they also differ in what instigates new projects. For example, a road construction company may have a division that focuses on fixing potholes, while a home construction company focuses on acquiring new land parcels. One selects projects based on problems while the other selects projects based on opportunities.

With web-based project management, opportunities can be taken to their maximum potential. An example of this is the chance for a business to go international. Under regular (non web-based) project management, going international would be less an opportunity and more likely a series of huge problems. However, with web-based project management, it grows into a huge opportunity. Such differences as language, currency, and geography can be eliminated. Teams can collaborate with others across borders and over seas with a single web-based all accessible system.

Perhaps the most important thing with addressing opportunities in web-based project management is that the very network itself creates more opportunities. Similar to such social networking sites as LinkedIn and Facebook, companies using web-based project management can connect to the collective intelligence within their workforce and begin correlating, collaborating, and communicating at such a speed that new opportunities for projects can happen daily.

From Directive to Project

Directives are a less obvious factor of project selection, but can be just as important. Schwalbe explains that "directives are new requirements imposed by management, government, or some external influence." (56). Many companies can find this aspect of project selection boring, frustrating, or even debilitating. The home construction company is a great example once again. New zoning laws can affect plans for a new development insomuch that the construction company's productivity may be significantly reduced. Road, power, and sewage facilities might require new specifications that limit the potential for the new lots in a development. With this directive, a new project might need to be selected - or at least the redirection of the current one.

As I mentioned above, directives can hinder or frustrate a company, and even with a web-based project management system, the difficulties will likely remain unchanged. As for the home construction company, the zoning laws most likely cannot be influenced. That said, the best benefit that web-based project management offers is the speed of initiating, planning, and completing the project. After all, no one wants to sift around for too long in the confusion of government directives.

A Web-based Solution

In today's business world, web-based project management is the best solution to addressing problems, opportunities and directives. Being the first elements that lead to the selection of a project, these factors function most effectively through web-based systems. After these steps of selection are established, success then depends on a proper balance of those other factors - scope, time, cost, risk, and quality. The connectivity offered through online communication is imperative for one to compete with today's thousands of other companies using web-based project management.