Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Joining of Business Theory and the Medical Field


For my topic of project management, I found an article on the post-project review of the application of project management principles in health and medical research. In the article Researchers’ Experience with Project Management in Health and Medical Research: Results from a Post-Project Review, Janet M. Payne et al. (2011) looked into the reaction project management had on the researchers and “whether it made a difference to the project” (p. 2). The premise of their project was to “provid[e] health professionals … in Western Australia (WA) with educational resources to inform them about the prevention of prenatal exposure to alcohol and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder” (Payne et al., 2011, p. 2). The project management strategy that they employed was based on the guidelines found in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), which focuses on a five step process of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and monitoring (Payne et al., 2011, p. 1). The real merit of this article is how it shows the versatility of project management and how it can be applied to any type of project. Moreover, it tells of the reaction that professionals in the medical and research field had towards this business based concept.

Current Issue

The main issue was applying a business modelled theory to that of a health and medical project. For the researchers, this meant looking at things differently than they would typically, so the key process for their success, in my opinion, was their planning phase, so I’ll be focusing on that primarily. The researchers used a web-based template to help them develop their project plan which included the project purpose, objectives, management of the project, stakeholder management, media communication, publication and authorship policy, risk management, issue management, and project scheduling (Payne et al., 2011, p. 3-4). While most of these steps are pretty straight forward, the researchers expanded upon the management of the project by creating seven specific roles. The roles they decided upon were project champion, project leader, steering committee, project team, chairperson, project manager, and consumer and community reference groups (Payne et al., 2011 p. 3). This subdivision of roles enabled them to divide the work and hold individuals accountable for completing their specific tasks. This focus on accountability and assigning of tasks was further reinforced by the fact that in their project scheduling plan they created a work breakdown structure and a Gantt chart.

Moreover the groups they created, project champion and consumer reference groups were geared for this specific project and showed that they were thinking of their audience rather than getting bogged down with the medical jargon when approaching the development and delivery of their information on alcohol and pregnancy. The responsibility of the project champion was to “promot[e] the benefits of the project to the broader community,” and the consumer references group was tasked with “convey[ing] community perspectives and guidance to enhance the success of the project” (Payne et al., 2011, p. 3). These roles are very important to note on because as David Cohn (2011) said in his article Project Managers – Game On, “some organizations have the wrong vision for a project” (p. 1). He goes on to say that a loss of vision isn’t so bad as long as you learn from it (Cohn, 2011, p. 1). Thankfully for the researchers, they didn’t need to learn this lesson since they were focused on their audience from the start when they developed their project plan.


After creating a project plan, the researchers were able to complete the project on time and on budget. The researchers made use of project management to its fullest by creating a project plan that used a well refined methodology based on the PMBOK Guide, which is one of the top tips for effective project management mentioned by Dr. Ian Clarkson in his article Top Tips for Effective Project Management where he says, “adopting a project management methodology will ‘win the battle’” (2011, p. 1). They also maintained their focus on their audience which enabled them to preserve their project vision. After the project ended, the researchers were given questionnaires by Payne et al., and the results of researchers' opinion of project management was nothing but positive. They claimed, according to Payne et al. (2011), that, “it ‘established and facilitated effective methods of communication and decision making’ … It ‘supported the establishment and maintenance of teamwork … members were clear on expectations’ and roles’’” (p. 5). Additionally, the project was so successful that the researchers said that they “would recommend this type of project management for similar future research projects” (Payne et al., 2011, p. 8). This finding means that current methods of project management, specifically project planning, can be used for medical and health projects to increase the rate of project being completed on time and on budget.

Blog Question

According to the researchers what two things did project management enable them to do?


Clarkson, I. (2011, December 11). Top Tips for Effective Project Management. Retrieved

from http://www.projectsmart.co.uk/top-tips-for-effective-project-management.html

Cohn, D. (2011). PROJECT MANAGERS -- GAME ON. (cover story). Quill, 99(1),


Payne, J. M., France, K. E., Henley, N., D'Antoine, H. A., Bartu, A. E., Elliott, E. J., &

Bower, C. (2011). Researchers' experience with project management in health and

medical research: Results from a post-project review. BMC Public Health, 11(1),

424-434. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-424

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