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Project Planning In Teams

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Project Planning in Teams

"The University of Phoenix Online offers courses to students with a small class size of eight to fourteen adult students, the students in each of these courses are divided into learning teams of 3-5 students, who collaborate together to complete assignments that are especially beneficial to working adult learners. Learning teams are small, intact groups of students formed at the beginning of each course from the larger Cohort. Teams meetÐ' complete group assignments and projects" (Learning team handbook, 2003, p.2). Projects that are undertaken by learning teams require planning. Project planning will be a combination of skills from each member of the team. These skills include leadership, task allocation, and communication. When the team has been formed and communication is established the real work of project planning begins.

Project planning in teams is dependent on the strengths of the team members. Each member of the team will have skills and experiences that will contribute to the project. The advantage of using a team is that the end result is better than what the individuals could have accomplished on their own. The project manager is a crucial position that has to be filled within the team. Leadership for the project will come from the project manager who will allocate tasks to the group members. McNamara states, "The particular competencies (knowledge, skills and abilities) that a person needs in order to lead at a particular time in an organization depend on a variety of factors" (McNamara, 1997, p.1). One team member will have to take the lead and learn what each team members strengths are and how they can contribute to the planning process. "The next stage is a little complicated. You now have to allocate the tasks to different people in the team and, at the same time, order these tasks so that they are performed in a sensible sequence. Task allocation is not simply a case of handing out the various tasks on your final lists to the people you have available. In simple terms, consider what each member of your team is capable of and allocate sufficient complexity of tasks to match that" (Bair 1993, p.15).

Once a student has been selected to work on a team and the team has been given

a specific project that needs to be accomplished, the next step is to decide which direction the team needs to head in order to complete the task, who will be assigned each task and how much time will be given to finish the project. According to Blair (1995, p.87), "You need to decide on some form of framework both to plan and to communicate what needs doing. Without a structure, the work is a series of unrelated tasks which provides little sense of achievement and no feeling of advancement. If the team has no grasp of how individual tasks fit together towards an understood goal, then the work will seem pointless and they will feel only frustration." A team charter will give the team the frame work it needs to accomplish its task. The team charter is the official document from the team sponsor that empowers the team to act. This document describes the mission of the team and how this mission is to be accomplished. It is one of the most under-used and under-valued tools available to sponsors, team leaders, and facilitators for helping a team succeed (Learning team handbook, 2003, p.355).

Communication among team members is important in any project planning. The ability to listen and provide feedback by the project manager is a must. Team members must be able to share ideas, and voice opinions. Communication in virtual teams will be even more important than with teams who are able to meet face to face. Teams will have to bond and build trust within the group in order to work well together. The frequency of communication and quality of the communications directly reflects in the



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