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Managing a large project calls for the project manager taking into account areas and activities that may not offer the comfort of direct visibility. It is here that the experience and expertise of a project manager should be leveraged in order to anticipate and foresee at least some of the unique challenges that may arise during the course of project strategizing and implementation.
Delegating and assigning work to suitable team leads and tracking appropriately identified critical dependency factors are key factors in this effort.
Another unique challenge in large projects is change management. Changes, including those during the implementation stage, may often have conflicting impacts not easily visible. Besides, a change in one area often sets off a chain of impacts in other areas. For example, a change of schedule for a particular module might be critical and inevitable. However, it might impact another module/resource planning, by setting off another chain of changes in some other project. This challenge needs to be addressed in an effective manner.
In the information technology scenario, the most significant challenges in managing complex projects are:
The project manager’s ability to identify the components that bring complexity vis-a-vis the activities that are the usual part of a project, assumes significance here. If these components are managed well, the degree of complexity gets reduced.
Shortcomings mushroom even in projects progressing as per strategy. In a typical services industry, varying client needs and agreements are part of the engagement. In addition, deadline slippages and cost overruns are almost routine. Larger projects could need a longer duration for strategizing and implementation. During this extended period, many factors—both internal and external to the organization—could change considerably, in turn affecting the project plan and cost. During this crucial period, effective information exchange—to know what is happening and what should be done at different levels in the project at the right time—could become the casualty. This needs to be addressed.
Team Work Essential
Good leadership can address many of these challenges and taking periodic action can prevent such challenges from recurring. The project leadership should be strong enough to get the project work done by delegation rather than through the heroism of a few at the top. In the project manager, the gift of foresight and the ability to switch between focus and defocus at the project level are key factors for assured success.
In the light of the multiple challenges, a project manager needs to have a good understanding of what is essential and what is likely to happen, and draw his own inferences professionally. Besides, focusing on integration efforts through effective communication and leadership, delegating work and reviewing it, and supporting team leads smoothes the path of large projects.
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