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2016/17 Wessex PM Challenge Finals night report

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The 2016/17 Wessex PM Challenge Finals night, kindly sponsored by 20|20 Business Insight, lived up to all expectations. There were five excellent presentations from:

Southampton University's Team Atics - The team had clearly had a change of scope during the project and opened their presentation with these changes, their rationale and the process they followed to ensure that they were under control. The team showed a clear financial summary and Lessons Learned which should allow the charity art and music event to be repeated. The judges felt that this project demonstrated how it is possible to bring two different organisations together for mutual benefit in support of another cause whilst also managing several stakeholders with the associated communication challenges.

Bournemouth University's Team Resolution - The team distributed professionally produced copies of their Conflict learning resource and displayed their associated A1 sized poster. During the presentation and question period the team outlined how they had realised during the project that activity durations were fluctuating and so had paid more attention to the schedule, the network and the Critical Path; these are all useful lessons and experiences to take into their professional lives.

BAE System's Team Insight - The team had developed a board game to introduce the concept of Risk and Opportunity with ‘Early Careers’ in their division. The product had been submitted to field testing and a quality deliverable had resulted – this could feasibly be adapted for other business areas. The team described how they had suffered early progress problems and how they had addressed the problem, developed solutions and brought the project back onto schedule. Their financial analysis showing planned v actuals was also presented. The judges felt that the team had experienced some very real project life issues and had dealt with them effectively.

BAE System's Team Type 45 Destroyer - The team made a conscious decision to assign the project roles based on individual’s weaknesses to increase their PM awareness. The team outlined how they changed their initial scope to encompass handover. The judges thought that whilst this team were strong contenders, they focused their presentation towards PM process to the detriment of what was delivered; the panel did recognise though that presentation content is a difficult balance to achieve. The team also appeared to have stopped progress on the project based on their individual deployments rather than the needs of the project, although again this is a difficult balance to achieve when working in a real business environment.

Bournemouth University's Team Ignite - The team had taken the difficult step of stopping the project following the discovery of unexpected extra costs required to add a sound track to their videos, and they appeared to have consulted their project sponsor in this decision. They had recognised that stopping a project for the right reasons is not always a failure which is a very important and realistic lesson to learn; this should stand the team in good stead for their business life. The judges were impressed that, despite drop-outs within the original team, the remaining team members saw the project through to the end and completed both the project process and the APM completion process.

Throughout the process each team had a mentor to call upon.

After due deliberation, it was announced that Southampton University's Team Atics were overall winners and Pete Walters, from sponsors 20|20 Business Insight, made the presentations.

Whilst the judges were making their decisions, delegates were treated to a reflection on the recent research of University of Bournemouth lecturer Karen Thompson. Karen facilitates learning and conducts research on project management within the Faculty of Management at Bournemouth University. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her current research has been on communication in projects, project management practice and the role of social media, enticingly titled digital disruptors and digital connectors for our session.

Karen shared the ways that project management is evolving at the same time as rapid developments in social media and mobile technologies. She explained that social media are transforming business and many aspects of society, yet project managers remain divided on the impact of such technology: from those who see a perfect match, to those who wonder if social media are a waste of time. Karen discussed her research, how it has uncovered the ways project practitioners are leading projects to success through social media. Unlike previous research on project management, this work adopted a socio-technical approach that recognises the complexity of human interaction in projects. Far from being a waste of time, the findings reveal that the benefits of using social media far outweigh the concerns. In addition, she has used theories from other disciplines to show how social media can address some weaknesses in traditional forms of project management.

This was certainly a very insightful presentation, with one delegate emailing Karen afterwards and saying “Many thanks for the presentation last night. In my view it was the most interesting APM presentation I have listened to.”

Russel Jamieson
APM Wessex branch committee member


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