This coursework will consider the topics of stakeholder expectations, project constraints, time, quality and cost, due diligence and the use of consultancy expertise in the wider context of analyzing how a project manager approaches the “define and design stages” of a major merger and acquisition process involving the sale of marketing assets.
1.1.2 Define and design stage
The define and design stage of project management will be where the project goals, objectives and operational targets will be set out and agreed (Loosemore and Uher 2003 p. 136). These need to be integrated as every stage of the project’s life cycle is anticipated (Harrison and Lock 2004 p. 201). The define and design stage requires discussion of factors that will determine key outcomes of the project’s development. Factors such as the role of the project manager, the duties, responsibilities and powers of the project manager, the duties, responsibilities, and powers of key internal and external stakeholders, budgetary matters, cost issues, and quality issues are all very important to the define and design stage (Loosemore and Uher 2003 p. 136). As Harrison and Lock (2004 p. 201) state, the define and design stage in the context of contracts would, for example require the project manager to give a brief to an architect. Harrison and Lock (2004 p. 201) contend that the definition stage can be evaluated successfully through the use and application of the “go, no go” test which will determine whether the project is on target at various stages of the define and design stage.
2.1 Stakeholder expectations in the define and design phase
At the beginning of the define and design stage, the most important stakeholder, aside from the project manager will be the client. As Loosemore and Uher (2003 p. 136) state, it is essential for the project manager, and the client to communicate effectively during this key initial stage. Later, more stakeholders will join the “mix” for example the design leader, and or various sub-contractors (Harrison and Lock 2004 p. 201), so it is essential that firm objectives, and expectations are set out as a result of the initial consultation between project manager and client (Loosemore and Uher 2003 p. 136).
Strategies that will assist the successful development of the expectations of the client and project manager during this key phase will include:
(a) devising a statement of key duties and responsibilities;
(b) agreeing the conditions of engagement of other stakeholders such as the design leader, if applicable, and the engagement of any external consultation;
(c) devising and agreeing a planned, staged set of objectives;
(d) devising and agreeing a project management plan;
(e) agreement on an initial budget;
(f) planning cost control, expenditures and contingencies.
Initial communication between the project manager and the client will determine the success of these factors (Loosemore and Uher 2003 p. 136). It would be advisable to ensure that appropriate records are kept of communications, so for example email records, and records of informal discussions. What will be key will be a comprehensive record of what has been initially agreed in terms of what the expectations of the client are, and it is advisable that this is formally recorded in a written document.
A key factor in the early stages of the design and define stage will be the role of the project manager (Harrison and Lock 2004 p. 201), which will need to be discussed, and set out clearly from the beginning of the define and design stages. As many management experts would surmise, this is the area of the project that has the potential to lead to expensive litigation, and project delay (Loosemore and Uher 2003 p. 130, p. 131, p. 132, p. 133, p. 134 and p.135), so it is essential that the role of the project manager is clearly discussed, and agree from the beginning of the define and design stage.
As the project develops, factors like change control, teamwork and evaluation are likely to become important. Overall, the project manager will be expected to formulate an appropriate change control strategy as the define and design stage unfolds. Fundamental to the change control strategy are processes of organizational communication, teamwork, evaluation and operation management, and these must be aligned to the key strategic objectives of the company (Meredith and Mantel (2006) p8; Newton, R. (2005) p 103-118; Wysocki (2009) p 39-47, 109-120).
It may be useful to consider what the key stakeholder expectations will be in a newly formed corporate organization: employees will expect to be managed appropriately; managers will expect to be trained and supported in their roles; stakeholders will expect effective systems of communication and dissemination of information; investors may expect performance targets to be met or exceeded; shareholders will expect performance targets to be met or exceeded (Harold, K (2010) p 340 -346; Kelly, S. and Nokes, S. (2007) p 20- 25) and this is not an exhaustive list since it would be nearly impossible to extrapolate all of the stakeholder expectations that will emerge as the organization begins to form.
Stakeholders will have to be identified as a first step in the define and design stage. Stakeholders including employees (existing and new), investors (existing and new), management and consumers all need to be communicated with appropriately during the define and design stage (Berkun, S (2008) p. 42-46; Field, K. (1998) p 88-107, p163-170; Hobbs, P (2009) p 18-28). It is suggested that the best means of managing such a significant matrix of communication channels is to use some means of electronic communication to support it. To this end, it is suggested that an internal intranet and an external internet site, or sites are used to support the communication process between, and with different stakeholder groups within, and external to the organization as a merged entity. As Cox, D. notes (2010, p. 170) appropriate identification and management of stakeholder expectations through effective communication increases the probability of project success.
It is suggested that key processes such as procurement of contracts, recruitment, and appraisal will be much changed within the new entity that is required to be project managed. In light of these changes it is important to retain the efficacy of core functions within these processes (Meredith and Mantel (2006) p8; Newton, R. (2005) p 103-118; Wysocki (2009) p 39-47, 109-120). So, for example the procedure for conducting procurements, recruitment, selection and appraisal may need to be re-negotiated and or re-defined within different sectors of the newly formed business organization, so that it can be implemented consistently.