In this review, I will be critically reflecting on my individual experiences, considering what I’ve learned, understanding what I could have done differently and what skills and attributes I will take forward on my next project. Project management can be defined in many different ways, however, I have chosen a definition from APM’s website reading “project management is the application of process, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives.” I have chosen this definition because I believe it directly relates to my project as we all have different skills and experiences that we were able to bring to the project in order for it is success. For our project, we decided to focus on the ‘Importance of Project Life cycle’ because it was a theory that interested us all, and I thought it was cleaver to link carrying out a project whilst learning about stages of carrying out a project. I will be discussing three topics that I believe to be crucial in project management, in order to achieve our success criteria: Communication, Time management and Risk management.
Effective communication is essential in a group project for success. Communication is simply the “act of transferring information from one place to another”. When we communicate, we are trying to share information, an idea, or an attitude among the team involved in the project. There are many platforms in which we communicated; social online platforms, email, group meetings and OneDrive.
As a group before this project, we knew of each other, but had not worked together before. Therefore, in the beginning stages of the project, I was slow to respond in our group chat on our chosen social media ‘WhatsApp’, due to not being comfortable inputting my ideas or knowing my role in the group. We were in Tuckman’s “forming stage” of his development model. I became dependent on a confident member of the team, who naturally took on the project manager role. However, this quickly changed after a few group meetings, and I became much more confident offering ideas and participating in group chats. I have learned that it is important to communicate from the very beginning and to avoid starting communication online as I think it is important to meet your team first building from a face-to-face relationship then developing online chats.
Social information processing theory explains the “development of work relationships in computer-mediated environments. Although online interaction may take time before becoming effective as compared to face-to-face communication, it is a good communication tool.” (Lewis, 2007) Online communication allowed me to constantly keep up to date with what was happening in the group and give my input. Another great thing about the WhatsApp group chat is that if I was struggling with certain aspects of a task, which occurred occasionally, I was able to get an immediate response from my team guiding me through it. If I didn’t have this platform, it would be very time consuming, starting a task and having to wait until the next team meeting to clarify any misunderstanding, most likely causing a deadline issue. However, our WhatsApp group chat occasionally proved to be issue as I couldn’t be on my phone all the time, resulting in some conversations not having an immediate contribution and having to play catch up later, at times prohibiting my input. Another issue with online group chats is potential for misunderstanding, as messages can be understood differently as you cannot hear the tone of voice or interpret body language. Despite this issue, WhatsApp actually has a voice recording option allowing us to send a voice note on the chat, enabling us to hear tone of voice. This was often used by myself and my team to prevent any misinterpretation. The business world I am learning and developing in, has many different ways of communicating, with a rise in ‘computer-mediated environments’ so it is imperative I am able to use online chats and emails as a channel of communication, as I will be using this on a daily basis when working in a business full time.
As our group was establishing our roles, I was not confident speaking up and often conformed to an idea when there was a potential issue to prevent conflict. This is referred to a ‘Groupthink’ which is a communication theory by Irving Janis that explains the “behavioural pattern to avoid conflict and reach to a consensus without a critical analysis of the issue” (Binder, 2007). However, I began to understand the importance of communicating any issues I had, as it is key to trying to improve the project. Ideas build and become more creative and interesting when they have had group input even when conflict is involved. If every team member conforms, we are not going to develop a successful project. It is important to accept constructive criticism and not to take it personally, as it shows passion for improving the project.
Communication was often hindered for me using the OneDrive as I found that it proved difficult with my laptop preventing me from editing online, so I often had to download uploaded work, update it and re-upload it again as a second version of the document. This caused confusion leading to a couple of occasions whereby there was a lack of communication and myself and one of my team were both using the same template, however, she was editing the document online and I had downloaded it. I have learned it is very useful having a place online where the group can upload and view each other’s work, also being able to edit and make changes to it, however in the future I will use the ‘Google drive’ as opposed to the ‘OneDrive’ as I believe it to be more reliable.