Social good event report: The Night of Project Management

Authors:

Carl Johann Boucavel, PMP

Ka Yi Hui, Ph.D., PMP

Prasanth K.Nair, PMP

Sabina Tatur, Ph.D., PMP

 

 

On the 5th November 2020, the team lead by Johann collaborated with the University of Zurich, Life Science Zurich Young Scientists Network (LSZYSN) held an online Social good event called Night of the Project Management. Life Science Zurich Young Scientists Network (LSZYSN) is a non-profit organization run by graduate students & post-docs of the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich. They aim to bridge the gap between academics and industry. Through this event, we strengthen the student’s knowledge in project management through case studies. This event is different from other previous social good events. Last year we held a PM workshop for the same organization. This year, instead of just being the participants, the students involved heavily in the event’s organization right from the beginning.

We focused on five different topics, risk management, time management, stakeholder management, communications, and quality management. In each breakout room, a PMI volunteer acted as the topic expert to guide the discussion and case study. During the event, the students rotated around different breakout rooms to discuss in-depth these topics.

[a]

Risk Management

In the Risk management room, Ka Yi has explained the best practices in planning risk management, including identifying risk, assessing risk, and action plan.

We also clarified some of the keywords and concepts. For example, when talking about risk, some students may think about the “risk” in investing. We also explored the “positive risk”, what opportunity we can find in adverse events, like COVID-19.

The most obvious one would be turning an in-person event into an online event that opened new doors to reach more audiences. In fact, at this event, all the PMI volunteers came from different parts of Switzerland, so there’s always a bright side.

Communication Management

In the Communication managementroom, Prasanth explained the best practices in Communication Management.

With the starting message that a PM spends almost 90% of the time in project communication, the importance of this knowledge area in Project Management was underlined to the participants.[b]

Right from the beginning, Prasanth emphasized that typically Project Managers spend more than 90% of their time in communications. The message is clear to the students; Communication Management is one of the most important knowledge areas that can make or break a project.

The discussion started with the communication channels and the formula and then went deeper into the knowledge area, focusing on its three key aspects – Planning, Managing and Monitoring.

Identifying the Project stakeholders and using the Power-Interest grid to map them were well received by the students.

Carefully preparing the contents, selecting the apt delivery mode, identifying the right timing, and focusing on the right target group is the  successful recipe for effective communications.

The groups further engaged in a healthy discussion around the topic, and Prasanth answered various questions that came along during the sessions.

Stakeholder Management

In the Stakeholder management room, Sabina has facilitated the discussions about identifying a stakeholder and positioning the stakeholder in the power-interest grid.

The group defined the meaning of "interest" as the project's benefit to a stakeholder and "power" as the magnitude of a stakeholder's influence in a project. We also determined that "interest" in a project can be positive or negative and that "power" can originate from the availability of resources, such as money, the position the stakeholder holds, and the capability to influence and motivate people.

Finally, we discovered that stakeholder management is a dynamic process that requires a regular revisit of the power-interest grid to update any changes in organizing, monitoring, and improving the project manager's relationship with the stakeholder.

Quality Management

In the Quality management room, Johann has explained the best practices on the seven quality tools and how the students can use these tools throughout a project.

During our sessions, the students voted Pareto Diagram and the Control Chart as their favorites. Also, a very interesting combination came into gear when the students were able to start with a Histogram to gather all the ideas of brainstorming. Then take the most relevant one and then imagine a solution by developing a Process Flow Diagram. Finally, breakdown each process within the process flow chart into a check sheet.  

All the five teams which joined our meeting room were engaging; they kept Johann on his toes with all their questions. It was a tremendous opportunity for PMI to reach out to non-PMI members and give a glimpse of what project management is all about.

Testimonial from the participants:

The workshop was absolutely interesting! I appreciated very much that the coaches were so open and took the time to explain the concepts and how they applied to us. I find that in general, project management is not something that we learn even though we are scientists and we are heavily interested in the industry. Thank you for enlightening us!