Exploring trends and developments
in project management today
PEST is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the impact political, economic, social, and technological factors might have on a project. It involves an organisation considering the external environment before starting a project.
The PEST analysis is an important part of the project planning process:
- Political factors include areas such as tax policy, employment laws, environmental regulations, trade restrictions and tariffs and political stability.
- Economic factors are economic growth, interest rates, exchange rates and inflation rate.
- Social factors often look at the cultural aspects and include health consciousness, population growth rate, age distribution, career attitudes and emphasis on safety.
- Technological factors look at elements such as R&D activity, automation, technology incentives and the rate of technological change.
Use the following grid to record each factor:
|State Project Objective:|
|Political stability||State of the economy|
|Tax law||Interest rates|
|Employment law||Exchange rates|
|Trade restrictions and tariffs||Inflation rate|
|Role of men and women in society||Rate of technological change|
|Division of wealth in society||Automation|
|Health and safety||Innovation|
|Population growth rate||Recent technological developments|
Advantages of PEST
- Simple and only costs time to do.
- Provides an understanding of the wider business environment.
- Encourages the development of strategic thinking.
- May raise awareness of threats to a project.
- Can help an organisation to anticipate future difficulties and take action to avoid or minimise their effect.
- Can help an organisation to spot opportunities and exploit them.
Disadvantages of PEST
- Usually a simple list and not critically presented.
- The rapid pace of change in society makes it increasingly difficult to anticipate developments that may affect an organisation in the future.
- Collecting large amounts of information may make it difficult to see the wood for the trees and lead to "paralysis by analysis."
- The analysis may be based on assumptions that prove to be unfounded.
- PEST analysis only covers the external environment and the results need to be considered with other factors, such as the organisation itself, competitors and the industry in which it is working.
SWOT is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to a project. It involves specifying the objective of the project and identifying the internal and external factors that are favourable and unfavourable to achieving that objective.
Once you have planned your project, turn your attention to developing several goals that will enable you to be successful. Goals should be SMART - specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based.
Using Feedback as a Tool
As a project manager it is important to be able to give and receive feedback effectively. Feedback is best given on a one to one basis soon after the event that triggers its need.
Project Management Tools
A Gantt chart, Logic Network, PERT chart and Work Breakdown Structure are common tools used when planning a project.
Common Cost Management Mistakes
- Not understanding what is involved to complete an item of work.
- Starting with an amount of money and making the project cost fit it.
- Assigning resources at more than 80% utilisation.
- Failing to build in contingency.
- Providing estimates under pressure in project meetings.
21 Ways to Excel at Project Management
The popular project management eBook fully updated and available as a website.