Insights into Project Scope, Budget, Risks and Team Building
NURS6441, Section 2, Project Management: Healthcare Information Technology
October 14, 2018
Insights into Project Scope, Budget, Risks and Team Building
Project manager (PMs) work with stakeholders, sponsors, and technical experts to define a projects scope, budget, risks and project timeframe (Coplan & Masuda, 2011). PMs work to assist with project team building to enhance cooperation and collaboration (Project Management Institute, 2017). Organizations expend a lot of resources and money when implementing healthcare information technology (HIT) projects and cannot afford for them to fail (Hills, 2010). Project management (PM) can lessen the risk of HIT project failures (Hills, 2010). This paper will explore how an experienced project manager works to help define a projects scope, budget, manage risks, and engages in team building. Then compare the insight gained to current PM literature and discuss including these insights into practice.
The Interview Continued
Ms. Rasika Thomas, a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with 12 years of experience, was interviewed at Children’s Hospital of Alabama (COA) on September 18, 2018, and covered project scope, budgets, risk management, and team building. Ms. Thomas has a Masters in Health Information Technology (HIT). In addition to the PMP certification, Ms. Thomas is also a Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM) and Certified in Agile Leadership (CAL1) (R.Thomas, personal communication, September 18, 2018). Ms. Thomas has worked on large multi-million-dollar projects at COA, McKesson, and several other companies (R.Thomas, personal communication, September 18, 2018). Any insights provided, given Ms. Thomas’s broad experiences and in-depth knowledge with leading HIT project, would be of great value to a beginner.
More Insights into Project Management
Project Managers play an important role in determining the scope, budget, and timeframe
(referred to as the Triple Constraints) as well as managing project risks and in team building
(Coplan & Masuda, 2011). Ms. Thomas reported that team building was an essential task needed to introduce the team members to each other, instill a sense of collaboration, and promote team cooperation (R. Thomas, personal communication, September 18, 2018). An effective way to start team building is to have a social gathering for a project kickoff (R. Thomas, personal communication, September 18, 2018). Using the causal setting and informal nature of a social setting for a project kickoff allows team members to share information informally and to engage in fun activities before all the hard work begins (R. Thomas, personal communication, September 18, 2018). Using a fun, humorous social setting for effective team building is supported by research. A study conducted by Lehmann-Willenbrock & Allen (2014) showed that using fun activities and humor improves team member interactions and promotes productivity.
HIT projects are expensive undertakings with tight budgets that can have dire consequences if not managed, and it is up to the PM team to help the customer stay within the fixed budget (Coplan & Masuda, 2011). Ms. Thomas (personal communication, September 18, 2018) pointed out that the biggest budget buster is scope creep. The PMBOK Guide, 6th Edition (2017) defines project scope as the work needed to deliver a product with specified functions and features. Ms. Thomas (personal communication, September 2018) agreed that project scope is all about figuring out what is needed to deliver a working product based on customer specifications and ideally nothing else; that is avoiding scope creep. Limiting scope creep is difficult, but important for a new PM to master because adding product features after defining the scope results in increased costs and can prolong project timeline (R.Thomas, personal communication, September 18, 2018). According to Megia (2017) using defined boundaries derived from agreed upon requirements before a project begins and advising the customer on the impact on budgets for additional requirements after the project, starts can help to limit scope creep.
Another way a project manager helps customers stay within budget is to manage project risks effectively (Biafore, 2010). Managing HIT projects is like walking through a minefield, there are risks with each step (R.Thomas, personal communication, September 18, 2018). According to Ms. Thomas (personal communication, September 18, 2018) project risks happen, having a written risk management plan defining how to process risks is the most critical thing a PM can do. Ms. Thomas best advice for new project managers is never to ignore risk (no matter the size), develop a plan at the beginning of a project, and get subject-matter experts involved as soon as possible to mitigate the risks. Coplan & Masuda (2011) points out that the key elements to managing project risks include identifying them, have a response plan, monitor known risks, and managing responses to known risks. These elements fit well with Ms. Thomas’s advice.
Applying Ms. Thomas’s Advice on Project Management
The insights and advice from Ms. Thomas are supported in the PM literature as cited in this paper and using them can help the PM to lead a project to a successful conclusion. The main points from Ms. Thomas’s interview for new project managers, or nurse managers acting as a PM include
• defining the scope in as much detail as possible,
• avoid scope creep,
• keep within the budget by mitigating risks,
• monitor known risks if not able to reduce them, and
• plan for fun team building time for the project team in the timeline (R. Thomas, personal communication, September 18, 2018).
Ms. Thomas provided insights into the challenges of a practicing PM regarding scope, budget, risk management, and team building. The advice and ideas from Ms. Thomas clearly show that adhering to established Project Management Institute’s PM principles can lead to successful HIT projects. Using project management to implement HIT systems increases the likelihood that complex projects that can costs organization millions of dollars will not fail (Coplan & Masuda, 2011).