A few years ago I was on a curriculum development team that was tasked with updating lesson plans, student outlines, Power Point presentations, demonstration videos, written and practical application tests, and instructor guides for over 20 courses within the school. The team was made up of 18 individuals and spread out over four different locations across the U.S. Before our curriculum development started, we created an organizational chart on what location would take which documents to ensure we did not duplicate efforts. The plan was to work on the curriculum for 2 months and then submit any recommended changes so everyone had the opportunity to review the recommended changes and then submit any remarks before the changes went into action.
I cannot speak to what the other three locations did with regards to work organization, but I can tell you that within our office there was minimal structure to who would take what document, who would review the document before sending it to the other locations, and to what standard (format) the recommended changes would look like. In other words, there was no Work Breakdown Structure, there was no timeline established other than the planned two month deadline, and there was definitely little communication from management down until just before the two month mark. According to Portny et al. (2008), “To successfully launch a project, everyone associated with the project must understand the roles and responsibilities of project teams and stakeholders. Two planning tools can be critical to project success: The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) summarizes all the work that needs to happen in a project, while the Linear Responsibility Chart breaks down who is responsible for each piece of work” (pg. 76). Due to the fact that the project had a very vague WBS, you can predict how this project was very stressful and handicapped.
There were two frustrating parts during the project: 1st there was no weekly meeting held to iron out issues nor to determine project process and 2nd the PM was away on travel overseas for 75% of the two months to complete the curriculum updates. As a new member of the team, I was constantly coming to others within the group to discuss questions like: Where do I start? What resources are available to me? Who is the Subject Matter Expert on specific courses? What format do the documents need to be in? Looking back on the project, our team would have benefited greatly if we would have followed some project life cycle planning format:
• Conceive phase: an idea is born
• Define phase: a plan is developed
• Start phase: a team is formed
• Perform phase: the work is done
• Close phase: the project ends
(Portny et al., 2008)
If I were the PM or at least the office PM, I would have at minimum created a WBS to identify who would work on what portion of the task and what and where the resources are for each portion of the task, and phases/timelines for each task. Secondly, I would ensure there was a local meeting every day that each member of the team would answer: 1) What did I accomplish yesterday 2) What am I accomplishing today and 3) What impediments, if any, do I have to accomplish task for the day? Lastly, I would have all documents posted in a share point location so that anyone can review the documents when needed to ensure tasks are on track and being done properly. Michael Greer (2010) states one of the more important questions to be answered during the deliverable phase of project management is “Did those who reviewed the deliverables provide timely and meaningful input? If not, how could we have improved their involvement and the quality of their contributions”?
Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.
Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.