The Most Common Problems in Project Management as Perceived by Project Managers in Abu Dhabi in 2011
Chapter 1 Introduction Project Management is not something new in today’s world as it has been practiced since the early civilization by early architects and engineers such as Vitruvius, a Roman writer, architect and engineer, Christopher Wren, Thomas Telford and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Though it has been used before, organizations started to apply systematically the project management tools and techniques to complex project in the 1950s.
No matter what the size of the organization is, there is always a need to have project management that is involved in new endeavors such as the development of a new product or service; establishment of a new production line; a public relations promotional campaign or even a major building program. Project management has been changing as time goes by like in 1980s, project management dealt with quality. After a decade, in 1990s, project management was about globalization. In the advent of the year 2000, it started to deal with velocity. This evolution in project management happens because of the continuous and changing demands in the market.
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According to records, the modern project management method originated in two parallel yet different problems of planning and control in projects in the United States. 1. U. S. Navy case which had the concerns with the control of contracts for its Polari Missile Project. The contracts were about research, development work and manufacturing of parts that were unique and had not been used previously. This specific project was of high uncertainty as completion times were based on probabilities and time estimates were based on optimistic, pessimistic and most likely.
A mathematical assessment was made to determine the probable completion date of the project. This assessment was called Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) which is still being used today as it suits best for projects with a high degree of uncertainty. 2. E. I du Pont de Nemours Company case. This is a private sector which constructed major chemical plants in the U. S. These undertakings required accuracy in time and cost estimates. This company developed the method called as Project Planning and Scheduling (PPS) which requires realistic estimates of cost and time.
Obviously, this has a more definitive approach than PERT. Later, this PPS was developed into the Critical Path Method (CPM) which became very popular in the construction industry. From these two cases, the development of project management continues until it reaches our time. As changes come immediately, project management welcomes these changes with the purpose of achieving the goals and cope with the fast track of market demands. a. Statement of the Problem The Most Common Problems in Project Management as Perceived by Project Managers in Twenty Constructing Company in Abu Dhabi in the Year 2011. b.
Purpose of the Study It is the purpose of this study to determine the most common problems being faced by project managers to help other managers to be prepared to face the same problems in the future. c. Significance of the study The study will help project managers as well as those future project managers to find ways and other alternative ones to solve problems that are similar to those presented in this study. d. Research questions The complex situations that project managers are facing these days can be solved without more hardships and difficulties if they are aware of its existence in the near future.
Identifying the problems to come is one of the best tools that a manager can utilize to easily solve them. 1. What is the profile of the respondents according to the following factors: a. Gender b. Types of companies c. Number of years in the company d. Total number of years as project manager 2. What are the most common problems in project management as perceived by twenty project managers in different constructing companies in Abu Dhabi? Chapter II Background of the Study Review of Related Review
Many universities and colleges are offering different courses about the different field of management such as human resources, business, and project. All these fields deal with various problems that vary in severity according to different managers and according the situations that they are dealing with. In the book of Lawson (2009) he gave a detailed information about the steps to take for a successful project management. He has four major steps in his book such as: 1. Evaluation of options for change 2. Putting together an effective project team 3. Planning a logical course of work . Keeping projects on time and to budget According to Clear (2011) in his article entitled “7 Common Project Management Problems (and How to Solve them)” undesirable outcome in a project management can be avoided by designers and developers by getting familiar with these 7 project management problems. 1. Vague and ever-changing client requirements. The client’s requirement can be a big problem and therefore, it is very important to provide a clear path laid out from start to finish so client can have specificity in his/her requirements and keeping the project on track as well. . Slow client’s communication. Slow communication has been another big reason why projects are being delayed. With this situation, project managers should have the initiative to do a little bit of work ahead of time. Instead of waiting for the response of the client, start doing the work which is according to the direction that you think is best then verify it to your client. It is easier for you to wait for two short answer of “yes” or “no” than to wait for his slow reply. This doesn’t mean that you will stop updating him/her.
This taking action ahead of time is applicable when the client is taking a long time to reply to your messages regarding the project you are working on. 3. Project doesn’t start on time. Time is gold and therefore, should not be wasted. If the project is having a delay, then you should inform the client about the impact of such delay and the possible problems that will come along the way as it may also cause delay in the future to other projects which may be more important. 4. Managing every project the same way.
Avoid treating a project the same way as you did with other projects as situations, people, and goals are changing over time just like your schedule. To avoid this, give time in crafting specific milestones that is suitable to the needs of each project. 5. Clients dislike what you created. This situation can’t be avoided but if this happen often; then there is something that needs to be addressed. See to it that you understand the requirements of the project not only the technical parts but also the underlying rationale of your clients.
Try to create a shared vision between all parties as it is your responsibility to understand the project’s direction as well as the strategy of your client. 6. Point of contact doesn’t seem to care about your project. To avoid this, do the screening of potential clients and find out if the contact person has a vested interest in the project. Pay attention to their attitude particularly their level of urgency in scheduling project in their calendar as well as their consistency in communicating with you. If they are hesitant, then, better find a second point of contact before making the final decision to take the project. . Too much time is spent on production and less time on testing. Clear gave two points to avoid this problem. First, give more time to test the projects from the start. This means stretching the schedule further. Second, set guidelines with a client from the beginning of a project and make it clear that your work ends after the final product is done and handed off. This means, make at outline or boundaries at the beginning of a project the clearly state that extra service will cost extra after the product delivery.
In his article he emphasized that there are actually countless reasons that a project could turn into issues and problems but most of these issues can be solved by keeping a clear and frequent communication with the client. Even if the client is quite difficult to communicate with, but it is one of the major duties of the project managers to keep the line of communication open always. He also suggested that a project manager should send regularly a progress report to the client, which can be done in a weekly basis.
This weekly progress report, he added, will help a project manager to solve problems before they become too big and most importantly, this will also make the clients appreciate your work and love your service. Cynthia West, Ph. D. , the Vice President of Project Insight (n. d. ), made a summary of the five common project management challenges after her team made several interviews with project managers, directors of operations, vice presidents of professional services, chief financial officers, and other project team members. The five common project management challenges based on West are: 1.
Geographically dispersed project teams 2. Wrong tool for the job 3. Overbooked or mismanaged resources 4. Time-wasted in looking for project documents or assets 5. Spending too much time in status meetings Holmes (2007) wrote the 10 Most Common Project Management Mistakes based on the report of an IT management consulting firm named Forrester Research. This research points out there are many known mistakes in project management but developers keep doing them. As advised by Forrester, the following can be alternatives to lessen mistakes in project management. . Never committing to project success. Commitment is needed in order to have a successful project. This commitment can be seen in doing work at extra hours. 2. Freezing the schedule and budget before the project is understood. This happens when there is insufficient information about the project at the beginning of the cycle. 3. Over-scoping the solution. Forrester compares this to using a chainsaw to open an envelope which is making a simple situation a complicated one just to meet a requirement. 4. Circumventing the application development organization.
Updating all the levels in the project team about any development or change in the operation and even in the management personnel will lessen this bypassing problem. 5. Underestimating the complexity of the problem. Lack of necessary details about the application requirements make it difficult for the Program Management Office to provide the feedback whether the system is meeting the project requirements or not. 6. Being stingy with subject-matter experts. 7. Choosing the wrong project leadership. 8. Distrusting the managers to whom tasks have been delegated. 9. Jumping into the “D” of “R & D” without enough “R”. 0. Suppressing bad news. It is very noticeable that there many items in the common problems in project management presented by Clear (2011), West (n. d. ) and Holmes (2007) are similar in some aspects. Common among the problems they presented are communication, delegation, time management and vague project requirements. The problems they have given are all self-explanatory and do not need to be explained further. Definition of Terms The following terms are used in this research for the purpose of understanding the information that the researcher wants to convey to the readers. 1. Project Manager.
A person who is currently working as project manager in any private organization in Abu Dhabi. 2. Time Management. This refers to all matters about time that a project manager encounters particularly problems that deal about time like delays in the project taking long time for a communication to take place. 3. Vague Project Requirements. This refers to the unclear requirements of the clients regarding a project. 4. Stakeholders’ Management. This is the attention level that stakeholders are putting on the project. Their regular attention is vital for the smooth project processes. 5. Rapid Employees’ & Laborers’ Turnover.
This is the constant changing of people working in the project. 6. Financial Matters. These matters are about the “money problems” that a project manager is facing while working on the project. 7. Fear of trying new innovative ideas. This is about the ways the project managers are dealing with the projects. They are afraid to try innovative ideas. 8. Staff gap and misunderstanding. This is about the misunderstanding between staff members due to miscommunication. 9. Lack of proper delegations. This is about choosing the right people to work on the right track on particular areas of the project. 0. Overlooking the foreseen disaster. This refers to the negligence of the project manager to give attention to the foreseen problems that will arise in the present situation. 11. Skipping testing phase. This is the project team’s avoidance to do the testing phase because of factors such as spending too much time in designing but not enough time in testing. Chapter III Methodology Research Design The researcher used the descriptive method of research having questionnaire as the research instrument which was supported by direct observation of the research environment.
The questionnaire aims to identify the most common problems perceived by project managers of some companies in Abu Dhabi. Research Participants The respondents in this research were all individuals who are presently working as project managers in randomly selected organizations in Abu Dhabi during the first half of 2011. Sixty questionnaires were distributed but only fifty pieces were retrieved by the researcher. Data Gathering Procedure and Time-frame The questionnaires were distributed to the respondents who were given a period of one week to complete and answer them.
Thirty-five among the chosen fifty respondents preferred to send the questionnaires by e-mail, while the rest accepted it by hand. Respondents were asked to rank the listed problems from the most common to the least common using numbers from 1 – 10. The questionnaires were retrieved after less than one week. Statistical Treatment of Data Data gathered were analyzed and interpreted using the frequency distribution in order to determine the most common problems of selected project managers in construction and contracting companies in Abu Dhabi in the first half of 2011. Chapter IV
Results There are more than one thousand construction contracting companies which are mostly private ones in Abu Dhabi. The respondents in this research correspond to only 5 percent of the total construction contracting companies in Abu Dhabi. The profiles of the respondents according to gender show that there are 47 or 94% of the respondents are male as 3 or 6 percent are female. Three among the total respondents are from semi-government organizations while the rest are all private ones. Table 1. Respondents’ profile according to gender Gender| Frequency| Percentage| Male| 47| 94|
Female| 3| 6| Total| 50| 100| Table 2. Respondents’ Profile according to type of company Types of Company| Frequency| Percentage| Government| 0| 0| Semi-Government| 3| 6| Private| 47| 96| Total| 50| 100| When it comes to the number of years they are working in their companies, 35 respondents or 70 percent have been staying in the company between 4 to 7 years, thirteen or 26 percent have been staying for more than 8 years, and the rest, two or 4 percent have been in the company from 0 to 3 years. Table 3. Respondents’ Profile according to number of years in the company No. f years| Frequency| Percentage| 0 – 3| 2| 4| 4 – 7| 35| 70| 8 – above| 13| 26| Total| 50| 100| In the number of years that the manager has been working as project manager (in the past and in the present company) shows that 12 percent or 6 of the respondents have working experiences between 0-3 years, 14 or 28 percent have between 4 to 7 years and the remaining 30 or 60 percent have been working as project managers in 8 years and above. Table 4. Respondents’ Profile according to the total number of years working as project manager No. of years| Frequency| Percentage| 0 – 3| 6| 12| – 7| 14| 28| 8 – above| 30| 60| Total| 50| 100| The researcher found out based on the answers of the respondents that time management is the most common problem as it was chosen by 45 or 90 percent of the total respondents. This is followed by staff gap and misunderstanding which got 39 or 78 percent of the respondents. The third one is lack of proper delegation which got 36 respondents or 72 percent. The fourth common problem is the skipping testing phase which got 35 or 70 percent of the respondents while Stakeholders’ management followed closely in the fifth rank as it got 34 or 68 percent.
Vague project requirements ranks as number 6 in the most common problem of project managers with 33 or 66 percent of the total respondents’ answer. Financial matters rank 7 with 31 or 62 percent of the respondent, and both fear of trying new and innovative ideas and overlooking the foreseen disaster follow as both got 27 or 54 percent of the respondents. The last in the list is the rapid employees’ and laborers’ turnover which is the least common problem of project managers. This problem got 26 or 52 percent of the respondents who considered this as the least among the ten problems presented to them.
Two among the respondents listed additional problems on the space provided for any other problems they are facing aside from those listed. They added clients’ behavior and attitude and communication gap. Below is the table that shows the summary of the respondents’ answers in all the questions in the questionnaire. Table 5. Frequency distribution of the common problems of project managers Problems of Project Manager| Frequency| Percentage| Rank| Time Management| 45| 90| 1| Vague Project Requirements| 33| 66| 6|
Stakeholders’ Management| 34| 68| 5| Rapid Employees’ & Laborers’ turnover| 26| 52| 10| Financial Matter| 32| 62| 7| Fear of trying a new and innovative ideas| 27| 54| 8. 5| Staff gap and misunderstanding| 39| 78| 2| Lack of proper delegations| 36| 72| 3| Overlooking the foreseen disaster| 27| 54| 8. 5| Skipping testing phase| 35| 70| 4| Below are the problems which are given by two respondents. 1. Communication gap 2. Clients’ behavior and attitude about the projects Chapter V Conclusions and Recommendations
The findings presented in chapter IV reveal that time management has been the most common problem of project managers until now. Time has truly been a common issue at work in most organizations particularly during those situations that are beyond the control of the project managers. Conclusions In the Arab countries, men are the general working gender and this is supported in the findings in the previous chapter where only three ladies are working as project managers and they are not Arab nationals. Though there are also Arab ladies who are working but they are mostly in the offices and banks.
There is a big number of private contracting organizations in Abu Dhabi and the respondents were mostly from private organizations with three from semi-government organizations such as marine, Information Technology and health sectors. This is due to the fact that many contracting organizations are being managed by foreign establishments and foreign nationals. Loyalty in the company is seen in the findings as most of the project managers have been staying in their companies for more than 3 years. The respondents are mostly experienced project managers as most of them have more than 3 years of experience in the field of project management.
In the findings, time management, staff gap and lack of proper delegations are the three leading problems of project managers. When it comes to time, it has been a problem not only for project managers but also in most organizations. This time management problem usually deals with delayed project accomplishment due to other delays such as approval from clients and other authorities. Staff gap and misunderstanding usually comes out from communication gap among the staff members due to some factors which are not covered by this study.
The lack of proper delegation has found its way to be the third most common problems. This may be due to the fact that there are members of the team who are assigned to do particular jobs but they are not responsible enough for the position or they are not qualified for the position. Skipping testing phase and stakeholders’ management are fourth and fifth. Skipping testing phase usually happened according to Yager (2011) when the team spends so much time in designing it leads to lesser time or no time at all in testing.
In this regard, he highly suggested that detailed strategic business objectives and processes should be provided in order to have sufficient time for testing and re-testing of the project. Stakeholders’ management is the fifth in the rank. Bourne and Walker (2007) emphasized in their study entitled “Project relationship management and the Stakeholder Circle” that the success or failure of a project is strongly influenced by both the expectations and perceptions of its stakeholders as well as the capability and willingness of project managers to manage these factors and the organization’s politics.
With this stakeholders’ management problem, they suggested that project managers should be able to assess the relative influence of a project’s stakeholders, understand their expectations and define the appropriate engagement procedures to influence the key stakeholders’ expectations and perceptions for the success of the project. Recommendations Based on the findings presented in this research, the author would like to recommend the following points: 1. Project managers should make all the necessary preparations from planning up to the last activity in the project making so as to minimize the problem of time. . Clear and accurate form of communication should be used among the members of the project team to avoid staff gap and misunderstanding. 3. The choice of people to do the job should be screened well objectively so as to avoid the waste of time due to improper delegations. 4. Schedule should be followed as much as possible so as to give each phase of the project development ample time without skipping any such as testing phase. 5. Project managers should always consider the stakeholders’ circle in order to gain their total support for the project. 6.
A sequel of this research having bigger scope is recommended for further study about the common problems of project managers. Bibliography 1. Clear, J. (2011) 7 Common Project Management Problems (and How to Solve them). Retrieved 19 April 2011 from http://sixrevisions. com/projectmanagement/7- 2. Crawford J. K. (2001). The Strategic Project Office. Retrieved 17 April 2011 From http://nadeemkureshi. net/documents/PM-Intro-Pres1. pdf 3. Ducket A. T. (n. d. ) All About Project Management . Retrieved April 22, 2011 from http://managementhelp. org/plan_dec/project/project. tm 4. Futterer, S. (2007). What is project management? Retrieved Aril 28, 2011 from http://www. pmhut. com/what-is-project-management 5. Hiray, J. (16 March 2008) All about Business and Management. Retrieved from http://businessmanagement. wordpress. com/2008/03/16/the-research- process-independent- and-dependent-variables/ 6. Holmes, A. (2007) The 10 Most Common Project Management Mistakes. Retrieved 19 April 2011 from http://techinsider. nextgov. com/2007/07/the_10_most_common_project_man. php 7. John Reh, F. (n. d. ) Project Management 101 Part 1.
Retrieved April 17, 2011 from http://management. about. com/cs/projectmanagement/a/PM101. htm 8. Kureshi, N. (n. d. ) Project Management. Retrieved 17 April 2011 from http://nadeemkureshi. net/documents/PM-Intro-Pres1. pdf 9. Lawson, K. (2009). Successful Project Management. London: New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd. 10. Project Smart (2011). History of Project Management Retrieved 17 April 2011 from http://www. projectsmart. co. uk/history-of-project- management. html 11. West, C. K. (n. d. ) Five Common Project Management Challenges. Retrieved 19 April 2011 http://www. ompaid. com/caiinternet/ezine/West- fivechallenges. pdf 12. Yager, S. (2001) Top 10 Project Management Problems. Retrieved April 21, 2011 from http://dssresources. com/papers/features/yager10032001. htm 13. Yatim, F. et. al. (2009). Investigating the deployment of project management: A new perspective based on the concept of certification. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business. Vol. 2. Issue No. 3. Appendix Questionnaire Please answer the following questions accurately. Tick the appropriate box for your answer.
All personal information will be treated with confidentiality. Personal Information: 1. Name: ____________________________________________________________ __ (optional) 2. Gender: Male: Female: 3. Name of Present Company: _____________________________________________(optional) 4. Type of Company: Government Company: Semi-Government: Private Company: 5. How long have you been in that company? 0 – 3 years4 – 7 years8 – above years 6. How many years have you been working as project manager? (in the past and present companies) 0 – 3 years4 – 7 years8 – above years
Below are some of the common problems of project managers. Please rank (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. ) according to their existence from the most common to the least common problems based on your experience as project manager. The most common will be 1 and the least common will be 10. | Time Management| | Fear of trying new and innovative ideas| | Vague Project Requirements| | Staff gap and misunderstanding| | Stakeholders’ Management| | Lack of proper delegations| | Rapid Employees’ & Laborers’ turnover| | Overlooking the foreseen disaster| | Financial Matter| | Skipping testing phase|
If you have other problems which are not mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to write them down. It will be greatly appreciated. 1. ____________________________________________________________ _________ 2. ____________________________________________________________ _________ 3. ____________________________________________________________ _________ 4. ____________________________________________________________ _________ 5. ____________________________________________________________ _________ Thank you so much for giving your precious time in answering this questionnaire.