Applied International Project Management. A Theoretical Analysis and Pragmatic Application of a London Start-up Company

Seminar Paper, 2014

24 Pages, Grade: 1,0

Johannes Michl (Author)



List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

1 Introduction
1.1 Objectives
1.2 Scope
1.3 Structure of the Paper
1.4 Methodology

2 Introduction of the Company

3 Current Project Management Approach
3.1 Project Initiation
3.2 Project Planning
3.3 Action and Control
3.4 Finishing the Project

4 Project Problems
4.1 Project Set-up Within the Organisation
4.2 Language
4.3 Culture

5 Recommendations for Improvement
5.1 Weekly 5 Minute Country Presentation
5.2 Language Courses or Tandem
5.3 Time Management Course
5.4 Daily Scrum
5.5 Implement Lessons Learned

6 Conclusion


Appendix A – Hofstede’s Power Distance Index (Hofstede, 2006, S. 56)

Appendix B – Hofstede’s Individualism Index (Hofstede, 2006, S. 105)

Appendix C – Hofstede’s Uncertainty Avoidance Index (Hofstede, 2006, S. 234)

List of Figures

Figure 3-1: Functional Organization Structure (created by author)

Figure 3-2: Matrix Organization Structure (created by author)

List of Tables

Table 4-1: Informal Phrases (created by author)

List of Abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

1 Introduction

1.1 Objectives

The goal of this paper is to evaluate international project management at XY and to make recommendations for a better project cooperation. Therefore, first the typical project management approach at this company is examined. In a second step problems and weaknesses of the process are identified, to present in a third step possible solutions.

1.2 Scope

This paper the project management approach of XY is described from the perspective of the author. For a higher degree of detail one would have to question more employees of the company who participated in projects. Moreover, when having a look at the cultures, not all of the cultures that are found at XY are considered, because that would exceed the scope of the paper. Certain cultures are selected to make a point clear. Lastly it also was not tested whether or not the recommendations are practical.

1.3 Structure of the Paper

The subsequent third chapter presents the current project management approach at XY. This process is divided into: project initiation, project planning, action and control and finishing the project. The fourth chapter points out problems related to the project management approach and additional cultural and language specific problems. The cultural Indexes, which help to categorize the cultures, can be found in the appendix. The recommendations for improvement are described in chapter five. The paper is completed in chapter six with a conclusion.

1.4 Methodology

For the preparation of this paper, primarily textbooks were used, which can be found in the appendix listed alphabetically. More knowledge was obtained from websites. Lastly the experiences of the author at a six-month internship at XY were essential to describe the project work there.

2 Introduction of the Company

XY, located in London uses market-leading social media influence intelligence to provide marketers with the insights they need to compete in today’s digital world. XY is developing a software service tool. Everyday the activities of around 210 million Twitter users are tracked and analysed. XY is helping their clients to become more data driven, and to make decisions based on data rather than bias.

The firm was founded in 2000 by X, Y and Z. Today XY is an internationally operating company with 17 employees. Over 500 user accounts were given to customers. On average there are 28.5 logins per day. The software is constantly improving with a focus on tailoring product market fit. The overall vision is to have a real time social media analysing system used especially by marketing departments of big brands.

The fast climbing number of XY users and the increasing competition makes it necessary to have highly productive project teams. It is key to spend the very limited resources on the right projects. Work at XY takes place in an international, fast-paced and dynamic environment. Employees experience flat hierarchies. They accompany the multi-faceted production process from initial idea and first beta version to post-launch optimization.

3 Current Project Management Approach

The following chapters describe how the phases of a typical project management process at XY look. A project management process can be divided in four phases: project initiation, project planning, action and control and finishing the project (Nagengast, 2014). Analysing the project work at XY helps one understand project problems and the recommendations for improvement.

3.1 Project Initiation

The initiation of new projects at XY takes place in a weekly management meeting. Normally this meeting is on a Monday afternoon. The participants are the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), the Product Manager (PDM) and the Business Development Manager (BDM).

Firstly, ideas about new projects are collected, based on the current strategic goals for the quarter. This phase has the character of a brainstorming session. For example, there is no criticism allowed. When there is a pool of ideas, the projects are prioritised. This is done using a point system. Every manager rates the projects from one to five points on how important he thinks each project is for reaching the strategic goals. One represents lowest importance and five is highest. This process is put in a list of prioritised project ideas.

Secondly, the feasibility of the projects is discussed. Normally the managers have an idea whether or not a project can be completed successfully. Sometimes in the case of a very technical project it can be necessary to bring a specialist into the meeting with whom the manager can consult. Projects, which are not immediately practical, are archived in a document called ‘Projects on Ice’.

A final discussion round takes place where the managers agree on projects to pursue. However the CEO has the final decision. Sometimes there are weeks where no projects are started at all. This can happen for example when there is a lack of resources.

Lastly, there is a rough planning phase. An approximate start-point and end-point is defined for each project. A Project Manager (PM) and the project team members are assigned to the projects. Usually a PM is selected from the management meeting. Sometimes even the CEO. These people then have two roles, as they are already head of an organizational unit. In the case of XY an organizational unit is a department. For example the Product Manager is often chosen for technical projects with a lot of stakeholders from different departments.

3.2 Project Planning

More detailed planning of the projects happens after the management meeting. First of all the PM has to think about how the project will be organized within the company. At XY either the functional organization structure or the matrix organization structure is used.

‘The functional organization structure brings together people who perform similar tasks or who use the same kinds of skills and knowledge in functional groups’ (Protny, 2010, S. 186). XY uses this structure when most of the project work can be done within one department.


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Applied International Project Management. A Theoretical Analysis and Pragmatic Application of a London Start-up Company
University of Applied Sciences Deggendorf
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International, Project Management, International Project Management, Start-up Company, London
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Johannes Michl (Author), 2014, Applied International Project Management. A Theoretical Analysis and Pragmatic Application of a London Start-up Company, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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