Learning from previous projects for improving project management practices : Improving project risk management and intra-project communication at Saab Dynamics

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Projekt, innovationer och entreprenörskap

Abstract: Using certain practices for managing projects is a critical factor in successfully executing projects. For a firm where there are few set practices by the organization for managing projects, project managers have to create their own practices with varying degrees of success. Experienced project managers often have had plenty of time to develop fully functioning practices whereas new project managers struggle to find any practice to use. This thesis examines how learning from previous projects at Saab Dynamics can improve the project management practices project risk management and intra-project communication. Further, this thesis proposes how Saab Dynamics can improve continuous risk management and intra-project communication.  A qualitative approach is utilized for this thesis where the data is collected from five separate interviews with project managers from various development projects at Saab Dynamics. The result from the interviews partly contains successful practices used by project managers, such as how to integrate sub-projects or how to manage risks continuously, but also highlights issues for the projects. These findings are analyzed by applying relevant research from the fields of learning in project-based organizations, project risk management and intra-project communication which resulted in a discussion and conclusion providing various recommendations for Saab Dynamics to improve each project management practice.  Key findings include that functions are needed to facilitate learning and how post-project reviews need to be structured to transfer tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, where focus needs to be on documenting using stories. Further, this thesis utilizes a model for risk maturity with five steps where only the top two allow for continuous risk management. To progress to these steps the importance of building a risk culture is recognized where the issue is in communicating the set process of risk management to project managers. Here, having a risk manager is identified as important. Intra-project communication focuses on the areas of information distribution, sub-project integration and communication planning. It was found that the information distribution needs to be balanced between forced and voluntary communication. Moreover, five mechanisms for integration are covered where some are more important for complex projects and some during high uncertainty. Lastly, a model for a communication plan is presented.

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