Sociocultural dimensions of project management

Rachel, the project manager of a large information systems project, arrives at her office early to get caught up with work before her co-workers and project team arrive. However, as she enters the office, she meets Neil, one of her fellow project managers, who also wants to geta an early start on the day. Neil has just completed a project overseas. They send 10 minutes socializing and catching up on personal news.
It takes Rachel 10 minutes to get to her office and settle in. She then checks her voicemail and turns on her computer. She was at her client’s site the day before until 7:30 p.m. and has not checked her e-mail or voicemail since 3:30 p.m. the previous day. There are 7 phone messages, 16- e-mails, and 4 notes left on her desk. She spends 15 minutes reviewing her schedule and “to do” lists for the day before responding to messages that require immediate attention.
Rachel spends the next 25 minutes going over project reports and preparing for the weekly status meeting. Her boss, who just arrived at the office, interrupts her. They spent 20 minutes discussing the project. He shares a rumor that a team member is using stimulants on the job. She tells him that she has not seen anything suspicious but will keep an eye on the team member.
The 9:00 p.m. project status meeting starts 15 minutes late because two of the team members have to finish job for a client. Several people go to the cafeteria to get coffee and doughnuts while others discuss last night’s baseball game. The team members arrive, and the remaining 45 minutes of the progress review meeting surface project issues that have to be addressed and assigned for action.
After the meeting Rachel goes down the hallway to meet with Victoria, and another IS project manager. They spend 30 minutes reviewing project assignments since the two of them share personnel. Victoria’s project is behind schedule and in need of help. They broker a deal that should get Victoria’s project back on track.
She returns to her office and makes several phone calls and returns several e-mails before walking downstairs to visit with members of her project team. Her intent is to follow up on an issue that had surfaced in the status report meeting. However, her simple, “Hi guys, how are things going?” elicits a stream of disgruntled responses from the “troops.” After listening patiently for over 20 minutes, she realizes that among other things several of the client’s managers are beginning to request features that were not in the original project scope statement. She tells her people that she will get on it right away.
Returning to her office she tries to call her counterpart John at the client firm but was told that he was not expected back from lunch for another hour. At the time, Eddie drops by and says, “How about lunch?” Effie works in the finance office and they spend the next half hour in the company cafeteria gossiping about internal politics. She is surprised to hear that Jonah Johnson, the director of systems projects, may join another firm. Jonah has always been a powerful ally.
She returns to her office, answers a few more e-mails, and finally gets through to John. They spend 30 minutes going over the problem. The conversation ends with John promising to do some investigating and to get back to her as soon as possible.
Rachel puts a “Do not disturb” sign on her door and lies down in her office. She listens to the third and fourth movement of Ravel’s string quartet in F on headphones.
Rachel then takes the elevator down to the third floor and talks to the purchasing agent assigned to her project. They spend the next 30 minutes exploring ways to getting necessary equipment to the project site earlier than planned. She finally authorizes express delivery.
When she returns to her office, her calendar reminds har that she is scheduled to participate in a conference call at 2:30. It takes 15 minutes for everyone to get online. During the time, Rachel catches up on some e-mail. The next hour is spent exchanging information about the technical requirements associated with a new version of a software package that are using on systems projects like hers.
Rachel decides to stretch her legs and goes on a walk down the hallway where she engages in brief conversations with various co-workers. She goes out of her way to thank Chandra for his thoughtful analysis at the status report meeting. She returns to find that John has left a message for her to call him back ASAP. She contacts John, who informs her that, according to his people, her firm’s marketing rep had made certain promises about specific features her system would provide. He doesn’t know how this communication breakdown occurred, but his people are pretty upset over the situation. Rachel thanks John for the information and immediately takes the stairs to where the marketing group resides.
She asks to see Mary, a senior marketing manager. She waits 10 minutes before being invited into her office. After a heated discussion, she leaves 40 minutes later with Mary agreeing to talk to her people about what was promised and what was not promised.
She goes downstairs to her people to give them an update on what is happening. They spend 30 minutes reviewing the impact the client’s requests could have on the project schedule. She also shares with them the schedule changes she and Victoria had agreed to. After she says good night to her team, she heads upstairs to her boss’s office and spends 20 minutes updating him on key events of the day. She returns to her office and spends 30 minutes reviewing e-mails and project documents. She logs on to the MS project schedule of her project and spends the next 30 minutes working with “what-if” scenarios. She reviews tomorrow’s schedule and writes dome personal reminders before starting off on her 30-minutes commute home.
Discuss the following questions:
1. Based on your understanding of the technical and sociocultural dimensions of project management, how effective do you think Rachel spent her day? Identify at least five characteristics/functions of project management that Rachel displayed to support your answer.
2. Project governance is designed to improve project management in the whole organization over the long haul. Competing in a global market influenced by rapid change, innovation, and time to market means organizations manage more and more projects simultaneously. Some means for coordinating and managing projects in this changing environment is needed. Centralization of project management processes and practices has been the practical outcome. For example, Google, Apple, General Electric, and Sony all have over 1,000 projects being implemented concurrently every year across borders and different cultures.
a. How do these organizations oversee the management of all these projects?
b. How are these projects selected?
c. How do they ensure performance measurement and accountable?

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