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Chapter 3 Homework Questions Contexts And Enviroments

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 2nd July 2014

Having completed chapter 3 try the homework questions and post your questions below and we give you feedback?

  1. List and describe five key benefits of using a programme management?
  2. List and describe five benefits of running projects as part of a programme instead of unconnected activities?
  3. Describe the term project context and explain four contextual factors affecting a project giving examples?
  4. List and describe five ways in which the project manager would make sure health, safety and environment was covered on the project?

Remember each of the five paragraphs in a answer needs to include 2-3 sentences. According the the APM guidance notes this should include a a statement of fact about the list item that indicates why it has been selected and also a statement(s) clarifying, supporting, demonstrating further comprehension or application thereof. 

I recommend three sentence describing the what, why it is important and then giving an example. So for instance 

1) One benefit of using programme management is that changes between each project in the programme can be co-ordinated in a controlled way by the programme manager. This is very important in multi-disciplinary programmes where change in one project might have a significant effect on the requirements for another. For example changing the layout of a sports stadium will have an impact on the number and locations of seating in the ticketing software. These changes can be controlled by configuration management operated at a programme level.  

Five more like this and your done…

  1. Student says:

    Thanks Paul, your feedback is much appreciated and very helpful.

    Please could you give me some feedback on the other question too – List and describe 5 key benefits of using a programme management approach, which I submitted a few days ago.

    regards
    Fran

  2. Paul says:

    Your health an safety answer is very good.

  3. Paul says:

    Francine

    Your answer is fine, but I tend to prefer to think about sociological factors as being social trends, people are living longer, they are more connective on-line, the population is more diverse, people are no longer part of extended families. These can affect a project to say improve the health of an area as health education needs to be delivered in a way that people can access such as Youtube.

  4. Student says:

    Hi Paul, your feedback on these last 2 responses would be much appreciated. Many thx Fran

  5. Student says:

    Hi Paul, I’ve also had a go at 2 others…..

    Q. Describe the term project context and explain four contextual factors affecting a project, giving examples.

    The term project context refers to the type of project and the environment within which a project is being undertaken. Contextual factors will influence how the project is delivered. They can be both internal to the organisation, such as its strengths and weaknesses, or external factors such as potlicial, economical, sociological, technical, legal and environmental.

    1. Political
    Political factors relate to political influences over the project. For a large construction project funded by public monies there will be many politically motivated stakeholders, with their own political motives and wanting to ensure the best use of public funds. On the other hand an internally funded project, such as a new IT system, will be less influenced by political factors and more influenced by internal stakeholders, such as departments and their consolidated consensus.

    2. Economical
    Economical factors often relate to monetary considerations and therefore can affect costs, benefits and hence investment decisions on projects. During the creation of the business case alternative solutions will be evaluated along various success criteria including costs and benefits. Where external funding is required a longer term project’s costs could be affected by changes in interest rates and if foreign suppliers are being used, costs could vary with currency fluctuations.

    3. Sociological
    Sociological factors refer to human and social trends, including end users of the project deliverables and society in general. These will impact a project in different ways. For example, a project to build a nuclear power station will have a significant impact on the local community and stakeholder analysis and understanding will be crucial for the project’s successful delivery. A project to deliver a new IT system however will need to consider factors such as ease of use and accessibility of the system for its end users, in particular for any users who may have disabilities.

    4. Legal
    Legal factors include the law and regulations which are relevant for the project and which need to be complied with. This includes compliance with codes of practice and reporting regulations. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 will be more relevant for construction industry projects, for example with safety equipment such as hard hats and protective goggles being issued to workers. However compliance with the Data Protection Act 1988, with regards storage and retention of personal data, will be more relevant for an IT project.

    Q. List and describe five ways in which a project manager would make sure health safety and environment were covered on the project.

    1. Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Plan.
    The project manager should develop a HSE plan for the project, as part of the Project Management Plan. This plan should include roles and responsibilities, reporting procedures, regulations and codes of practice to be followed and training records to be kept, in relation to health, safety and the environment. This plan should be reviewed and approved by the organisation’s health and safety team and shared with the project team.

    2. Risk assessments.
    The project manager must ensure that risk assessments are undertaken and documented. Funding should be made available for this purpose and any resultant actions should be undertaken to minimise the risk of incidents. This would include issuing appropriate safety equipment, such as personal protective equipment (eg. hard hats, protective gloves on a building site).

    3. Training.
    Health and safety is the responsibility of everyone. The project manager should ensure that team members are properly trained in procedures, including how to undertake risk assessments, how to report incidents and how to use safety equipment properly. Training records should be kept as evidence to provide an audit trail for governance purposes.

    4. Disclosure.
    The project manager should ensure that there is a culture of open and honest reporting of dangerous, unlawful or irregular activities within the project team. The team should have no fear of penalisation or recrimination for reporting issues. This includes having a procedure in place for reporting issues, such as near misses under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) or breaches in environmental legislation and taking staff’s concerns seriously.

    5. Reviews.
    Familiarity leads to complacency which can results in accidents and incidents. The project manager should ensure regular reviews of procedures are undertaken to keep staff fresh and attentive to best practices. This includes the project manager reviewing individual team member’s working hours, workload and sickness levels to ensure staff are not stressed, which is a risk for time pressured projects.

    thx
    Fran

  6. Student says:

    Hi Paul, I’ve had a go at question 1.

    List and describe 5 key benefits of using a programme management approach.

    1. Ability to initiate and terminate projects in a programme.
    A programme is made up of several inter-dependent projects, all contributing to the delivery of the same strategic benefit. Individual projects can be started at different times within the programme life cycle. This allows initiation of projects which will deliver the most benefits for the organisation first. It also allows flexibility in approach, in particular with multi-year programmes, as objectives may evolve differently and stakeholders change as the programme matures.

    2. Better management of project inter-dependencies.
    By having a holistic view of all the projects in the programme, the programme manager can identify and have a better understanding of inter-dependencies between projects. This allows better planning both in terms of project and programme delivery as well as transition to and hence impact on business as usual activities. This is important as it reduces organisational risk and minimises issues and delays in programme delivery.

    3. Better management of resources.
    An organisation may have limited capabilities and projects may compete for scarce resources. By co-ordinating projects within a programme the programme manager can quickly and seamlessly move shared resources between projects as and when required. The benefit of this is a reduction in staff under-utilisation and reduced risk of overall programme delays when issues occur in one project.

    4. Ability to manage risk across the organisation.
    A programme view allows an udnerstanding of worklaod and risks across all projects in the programme. This allows better co-ordination and flow of risk information to senior managers, reducing administrative work. It also allows better co-ordination of contingency funds, with funds being moved between projects within the programme if required, thereby providing more efficient use of funds.

    5. Consistency of approach.
    The programme governance arrangements will need to be followed by all its constituent projects. Individual project managers will therefore have less autonomy over their own project arrangements, such as risk management and reporting. This is important as it reduces potential confusion and also duplication of effort, which itself can reduce overall programme overheads.

    Thx
    Fran

  7. Paul says:

    A god answer but Sociological factors are more to do with social trends, for example people today want to be able to access their data on the move using mobile technology, they also have higher expectations from what they expect from a software package compared to a few years ago.

  8. Student says:

    Hello, my first attempt at an answer under time constraints, any feedback greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks
    Alice

    3. Describe the term project context and give four contextual factors affecting a project giving examples.

    The term project context covers all aspects of the environment in which a project operates that can influence upon the project. This could include factors internal to the organisation, such as it’s strengths and weaknesses, or its overall goals, priorities and values. This could also include factors external to the organisation, such as those that can be drawn out through a PESTLE analysis.

    One important contextual factor is the strengths of the organisation undertaking the project. It is essential to be aware of and consider where the organisations’ strengths lie in order to set the project up for success. For example, if the organisation has a strong history of project management but is poor at contractor relations then it may be prudent to run the project in-house as far as possible.

    Another contextual factor is the availability of appropriate technology. If a project requires a particular technical solution or is reliant on the release of a certain technological feature, then the timing of the availability of this technology, and the associated risks of delay, must be considered. For example, if implementing a new HR system then people can not be trained until the system has been installed.

    Sociological factors are also key. In the above HR system example this could include the end user familiarity with use of similar computer programmes, any resistance to change in the processes that surround this, and habits of users in terms of when and where they are likely to access the system. All of these factors must be considered when setting requirements, building and testing the system or the end result will not deliver the required benefits.

    Another factor is the environmental impact of the project or other environmental factors. With increased focus on environmental concerns it is essential for this to be considered or the project risks not only missing any organisational targets or moral duties but also potential legal requirements. With the HR system, the environmental impact would need to consider how much additional energy extra access systems would take, and offset this against the benefits of reduced paper usage.

  9. Paul says:

    patrick your answer to question for is very good. ten more like this and you should do well in The APMP exam.

  10. Student says:

    Hi Paul/John, I’ve had a go at Q4 below, would appreciate your feedback;

    4. List and describe five ways in which the project manager would make sure health, safety and environment was covered on the project?

    The project manager must ensure that the project team are properly trained and are able to carry out their roles competently and in a safe manner. One way this can be ensured is by way of specific industry training accreditation schemes such as the CSCS card scheme. These types of training schemes are a strong indication that the individual has been trained to the required level and possesses the health and safety knowledge needed for their particular role.

    Another important aspect of health and safety which a project manager will need to address is the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required. The type of project and activities being undertaken will dictate the PPE required but typically include such items as hard hats, hi-viz vests, gloves, glasses and safety boots.

    The project manger should also seek to instill a culture of open and honest disclosure in which project members are encouraged to report any dangerous health, safety and environment issues they may witness. The Reporting of Injuries, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) is lawfully required and deals with the reporting of near misses, The project manager must ensure project members feel comfortable reporting such items.

    The project manager will need to ensure that proper Risk Assessments are being carried out for all works taking place on the project. Whilst the project manager may not be practically able to view and vouch for each and every risk assessment being undertaken they can ensure the process and protocol is clearly defined in the Health, Safety and Environmental Management Plan which will allow the project office, for instance, to ensure this is being completed and filed correctly.

    Stress is an important issue which will need to be addressed by the project manager too. Working in a project environment can produce high levels of stress for project members due to tight timescales and deadlines which need to be met. The project manager must ensure working hours are acceptable (in line with the Working Time Regulations 1998) and objectives are reasonable and achievable in the time available. Failure to address these issues may have an unwanted negative impact on the project as a whole.

  11. Paul says:

    Patrick,

    Good answer, it is a bit too long though (this is not a bad thing) but you may struggle tow actually write this much in 15 mins on the day. It would score highly.

  12. Student says:

    Hi Paul would appreciated your feedback on the below. cheers.

  13. Student says:

    Hi Paul,

    I would appreciate your feedback on my answer below for Q3. Describe the term project context and explain four contextual factors affecting a project giving examples?

    (1)When discussing the context of a project what you are indeed referring to is the environment in which the project is operating and how certain factors within that environment will influence the project to varying degrees dependent on the project itself. A simple tool which can be used to define these influencing factors is P-E-S-T-L-E, which refers to the Political, Economical, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors which all have a bearing on projects, but to varying degrees and in different ways dependent on the type of project.

    (2)Political factors influencing projects need to be carefully managed. For instance, a large construction project funded with public funds will be affected by and influenced heavily by stakeholders with political ties who will subsequently be influenced by their own political motives and the motives of their political party. They would want to be seen as using the public funds wisely and in a way to benefit the community. On the other hand, the implementation of a new IT system in a company may not be subject to these external political factors but rather be influenced by the needs and requirements of the different departments internally existing in the organisation.

    (3) Sociological factors deal with the human impact of the project, which may include society or the end users. For example the construction of a new railway track will affect those living in homes close to where the new rail will pass by and as such the stakeholder identification process is crucial to engage with the affected groups and attending to their concerns/needs/requirements. Alternatively, a project which is seeing a new automatic check-in service implemented at a doctors surgery needs to pay close attention to the users needs and the ease of use and accessibility of the new system for all. Projects will be affected in differing ways sociologically but in both cases key stakeholder groups need to be engaged to ensure the project realises the benefits and avoids failure/delay due to resistance to the change brought about by the project.

    (4) Legal factors concerning projects must be adhered to and dependent on which industry the project operates in there may well be specific regulations and framework by which the project needs to comply. A construction project must follow Health and Safety legislation as set by the Health and Safety Commission and enforced by the executive arm of the organisation to ensure the project is undertaken in safe and controlled manner. Whilst an IT system being integrated into a company accounts department must follow certain software protocols and processes especially relating to aspects like the storing and sending of personal data.

    (5) When running projects, the effect on the environment should be given the appropriate level of attention. IT projects must carefully assess the impact of IT hardware power usage and energy consumption on the environment. In the case of a large construction project, the removal of waste products is highly regulated, with materials to be recycled wherever possible by way of specific material skips i.e. woods/metals/cardboard. Important advances in design software has meant the ‘over engineering’ tendencies of the past, especially in the construction industry, have been able to be minimised due to the more accurate and efficient design now achievable.

    Thanks,

  14. Student says:

    The context in which a project is operating describes the external factors that that will impact on the way the project is managed and that must be taken into account in planning for successful delivery of objectives. The project context can be described in terms of a range of political, social, economic, technological, legal and environmental.
    1.Political factors can be both external and internal for example in a large publicly funded capital project is likely to have a number of politically motivated stakeholders who will take decisions on the strategic direction of the project that might be difficult to predict.
    2.Social factors may place constraints on projects both in terms of understanding the needs of society when designing new products and in terms of the impacts that new projects might have on society. For example large infrastructure projects will need to make careful consideration of the social context in which they are working through stakeholder engagement to ensure the support of local communities.
    3.Economic factors are key in developing the business case and showing benefits of implementing the project. In long term capital intensive projects for example there will be uncertainties around interest rates and currency exchange rates which could have a significant impact on the overall cost of the project.
    4.Technological factors come into play where, for example, safety is a major concern such as the building or decommissioning of a nuclear power station where a detailed understanding of the technological specifications associated with each work package and how these will impact on timescales and costs is essential.

    Hi Paul,

    Latest attempt at project context.

    Thanks

    Jenny

  15. Paul says:

    @patrick A very good answer, 10 like that and you should pass..well done. Only one minor tip is to number each point to make it easy for the examiner to mark the question

  16. Student says:

    Hi Paul,

    Please review, comment and provide feedback on my below response to Question 1:

    1. List and describe five key benefits of using a programme management?

    One benefit of utilising programme management is the ability to provide improved management between interdependent projects within the programme. This is crucial to the overall success of the programme especially in multi-displinary programmes where individual projects may be of varying disciplines but rely heavily on each other in order to realise the programme benefits. For example, in the construction of a new IT hardware/server store room, close co-ordination will be required between the building design and IT hardware supplier to ensure that the hardware to be supplied is a main focal point during the building design phase, rather than the hardware being squeezed into a building designed without any thought given to what was going to be placed in it.

    Another benefit of using programme management is the greater control it allows over resources. This is important as a programme may involve a number of individual projects which require the input of a shared project resource. For example, the construction of an apartment complex may include multiple buildings which require an engineer to complete commissioning works on the security system. Using programme management will ensure the individual projects are scheduled in an efficient manner to maximise benefits whilst minimising the chances for a resource bottleneck.

    Programme management allows a positive approach to lessons learnt and the minimising of future risk on projects within a programme to be adopted. The ability to receive feedback on individual projects within a programme, whilst the programme is evolving, means this information can be analysed, transmitted and shared across other projects in the programme creating a more efficient and effective environment in which the programme operates. For example, where projects were run separately and not as part of a programme it would be possible, and likely, that the same issues or problems would arise in each project resulting in a similar outcome, which through the use of programme management could have been avoided or dealt with in a more effective manner.

    A further benefit of programme management is the ability it offers to exert greater control over individual projects within a programme. This is very important due to the adaptable nature of programmes and the need for a flexible approach as the programme evolves. An example could be when one project in a programme is moving well ahead of its planned schedule meaning a subsequent project may be allowed to be brought forward thus realising some programme benefits earlier than expected. Again, were the projects to be run individually the possibility to take advantage of this may not be realised in good time thus allowing the opportunity to be missed.

    Finally programme management allows a greater focus on the overall strategic benefits to be achieved through the programme and its constituent projects. It is important that a holistic approach to the programme can be adopted which in turn will deliver the strategic deliverables for which it strives. For instance, a car manufacturer may identify that they want to be the No. 1 seller of vans in the national market within 5 years. This strategic vision will determine which projects make up the programme and can change and evolve over time as the programme evolves and matures.

    Thanks,
    Pat

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