ABSTRACTProject managers face a profession coupled with a number of unique challenges. Tasked with the successful implementation of their project, these leaders are given a mandate to operate their project teams as de facto profit centers for the organization as a whole. One key skill that successful project leaders need to master is the ability to attune their temporal skills to the nature of the work they are called upon to perform. Different aspects of their duties require appropriate and varying time orientations. This paper discusses the implications of leadership in a project, which argues that project leaders must possess or develop a number of temporal skills that match the various tasks and situations they are called upon to address.
Finally, I posit some roles that project leaders must undertake and the desirable temporal alignment likely to enhance their chances for success. INTRODUCTIONIn this paper I shall share the rich experience of the project that I was personally involved in. At a local software house, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the first-ever project assigned to that company and as one of the most challenging tasks that the company had ever undertaken.
The project was to develop a “Quality Control System” for a pharmaceutical company. I shall describe the different phases of the project and my involvement as a project leader and shall also discuss the significance of the different decisions taken at different points of time. STARTING THE PROJECTAll of us are familiar with examples of project managers who fail because they are fundamentally unable to strike an effective balance between the roles they must undertake. For example, the detail people who get so caught up in the day-to-day minutia of project management that they couldn’t articulate a clear vision of the project for their team.
The result, many times, is a project spinning out of control because no one involved understands its overall goals. On the other hand, is the case of the "visionary" who gets caught in the trap of adopting a strategic outlook and ignores essential tactical operations--dealing with the myriad daily problems and issues that can slowly sink a project through inefficiencies and delay. It is based on examples such as these that we would note an additional reason for project success or failure: The ability (or inability) of project managers to use the temporal skills that complement the ongoing activities their projects are experiencing.
The term "temporal skills" refers to specific project management skills that relate to the past, present, and future. I did not want to repeat any such mistake, as I believe that if the foundation stone of a building is not put properly the building cannot simply be completed. Therefore I first outlined my course of action for the project.
The different phases included from the start to the end of the project are: Client SearchRequirement gathering Planning (Conception Phase)BudgetingTeam buildingMethodologyTimelineImplementation toolsRisks/Contingency plansDesignImplementation and developmentTesting (Debugging)Deployment / DeliveryMaintenanceThere must be an "attunement" between project leaders' temporal skills and the nature of the tasks they are engaged in on the job. For example, as we will demonstrate, project team leaders who are "forward looking" or focused on future events will likely develop and implement effective contingency planning as a matter of course. On the other hand, this same future orientation that serves their contingency planning ability so well often makes it difficult for them to deal with real-time issues related to implementing their projects.
In the due course of discussion I shall focus on the skills needed for various tasks performed by project leader, their effect on successful team leadership, and offer some guidelines for finding an attunement between time orientation and the demands of the project management job.