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How to Process Project Information

FEATURED PAPER

By Lev Virine, Ph.D., P.Eng.; Michael Trumper; Eugenia Virine, PMP

Intaver Institute Inc.

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 


In this article, we will learn how to analyze information and mitigate potential mental problems, particularly how to process huge amounts of information we receive on a daily basis. For example, not all of the information we receive is of the highest quality, in fact, much of the information we receive is deliberately manipulated to “trick” our brains, so that we make decisions that may not be in our best interests, like buying something that we do not want or even need.

My Dentist Has a Very Nice Web Site

Imagine that you are managing the development of a software application for computer-aided design of bridges and interchanges. As one of the requirements, your team needs to implement an interactive map of the bridges and roads. Obviously, you don’t want to develop your own mapping engine from scratch, so decided to purchase a mapping component for your software. There are dozens of such components available. Some of them are freeware, others cost a lot of money. Some of them support multiple mapping data formats, others work only with one proprietary format. Some of them work for desktop computers, others have a web interface.

It will take a while only to formulate a selection criteria; then you will need to evaluate the different applications, possibly by contacting different vendors. Then you will need to get different quote, procure the software, and get training. Underlying all of this is a fundamental issue: you need to process a huge amount of information. It is not enough to simply cruise the internet and make your decision purely on what you discover on the websites of various vendor, in the same way, you should not select your dentist based solely on dentists’ web site (Figure 9.1) as they tend to be somewhat self-serving. But remember, the mapping component is only 1% of your project. How long should the software selection and procurement take? How much will it all cost including evaluation, training, and software licenses? Most likely, you will only develop very rough estimates.

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This is a key issue in project management. As part of your job as a project manager, you have to process a lot of information: you must deal with the demands of numerous stakeholders, complex technologies, conflicting requirements, and ensuring that all this is accomplished within a short period of time. To properly process this information you have have to do some analysis, but you cannot spend all of your time selecting suppliers or calculating your budget. How can you process this mass of information quickly and efficiently? Where can you take shortcuts and where would taking shortcuts lead to problems?

All Marketers are Liars

Car manufacturers spend more than $13 billion a year on advertising their products. According to Jeffrey Hauser, sales consultant and author of Inside the Yellow Pages book (Hauser 2007), auto manufactures usually spend about 1% of their revenues on advertising. Figures for other industries are much higher: retail stores: 2% to 3%, service businesses: 3% to 5%, new business startups: 5% to 7%, fast moving consumer products: 8% to 10%, pharmaceutical or cosmetic companies: 20% and up (Hauser, 2010). Eventually, the cost of this advertising is passed onto consumers as part of the final price. This means that when you buy a $30,000 automobile, you are paying the advertising companies a few hundred dollars for their effort in persuading you to purchase the product. If this were the planet Vulcan as fictionalized in the Star Trek series, where the inhabitants are governed completely by logic and rational thought, they would select a car by reading the analysis provided by such publications as Consumer Reports that includes unbiased comparisons of all the models with prices, features, reliability, etc. But we are not Vulcan’s and businesses realize that they can push the odds that we will buy their particular product in their favor by appealing to our emotions. So they spend billions to appeal to your emotions, and try to minimize the effect that reason will play in your buying decisions. In effect, they are making an appeal to the irrational side of your nature to part with your hard earned cash to purchase something that you probably do not need. Undercoating anyone? So let us be clear regarding what we are saying, the next time you purchase a new car, you will pay hundreds of dollars extra for someone’s deliberate attempt to delude you. A red sports car will not make your hair grow back, nor will a large pickup turn you into a cowboy.

It is not our intent to argue that all advertising is irrational. It certainly is not from the perspective of the manufacturers. Advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry that provides a valuable service. How would you be able to notify people about your new invention, or the massive 50% sale off all furniture that you are having this weekend (though in reality still represents about a 20% markup)?

More…

To read entire paper (click here)

 


 

About the Authors

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Lev Virine, PhD

Intaver Institute
Alberta, Canada

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D. Virine
, Ph.D. has more than 25 years of experience as a structural engineer, software developer, and project manager. He has been involved in major projects performed by Fortune 500 companies and government agencies to establish effective decision analysis and risk management processes as well as to conduct risk analyses of complex projects. Lev’s current research interests include the application of decision analysis and risk management to project management. He writes and speaks around the world on the decision analysis process, the psychology of judgment and decision-making and risk management. Lev can be contacted at [email protected]

To view other works by Lev Virine, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/lev-virine-phd/ 

 

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Michael Trumper

Intaver Institute
Alberta, Canada

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Michael Trumper
has over 20 years’ experience in communications, software design, and project risk and management. Michael is a partner at Intaver Institute Inc., a vendor of project risk management and analysis software. Michael has authored papers on quantitative methods in project estimation and risk analysis. He is a co-author of two books on project risk management and decision analysis. He has developed and delivered project risk analysis and management solutions to clients that include NASA, DOE, and Lockheed Martin.

To view other works by Michael Trumper, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/michael-trumper/

 

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Eugenia Virine, PMP

Alberta, Canada

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Eugenia Virine
, PMP, is a senior manager for revenue development at Greyhound Canada. Over the past 12 years Eugenia has managed many complex projects in the areas of transportation and information technology. Her current research interests include project risk and decision analysis, project performance management, and project metrics. Eugenia holds B. Comm. degree from University of Calgary.

To view other works by Eugenia Virine, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/eugenia-virine-pmp/