The term project management is defined as the practice through which different tools, knowledge, techniques, and skills can be applied for the purpose of managing a project from initial to end-stage as per the given project requirements. Project management includes problem identification, developing a plan to sort out the problem, and further execution of the plan. There are a lot of tasks and sub-tasks involved in project management and its planning process.
In other words, project management is considered the practice through which the use of resources such as time, cost, manpower, software, and hardware can be controlled and utilized efficiently as these resources are part of managing a project. Usually, the starting point of the project management is defining a problem statement and it finishes with delivering the project or product successfully. Understanding the scope and different processes of a project cycle come under project management. As there are various challenges associated with managing a project, so, there is a need for effective and efficient project management by an organization.
Definition of Project Management
According to the German Organization of Standardization, “Project management is related to the complete set of tasks, tools, and techniques applied at the time of execution of a project.”
Elements of Project Management
A project is considered a series of tasks that are required to be completed for obtaining a specific objective. As per the PMI (Project Management Institute), Project is related to an endeavor on a temporary basis that has a definite starting and end. This endeavor is used to develop a unique product or service.
A project is considered temporary because its beginning and end are defined. So, its scope and resources are also established. Simultaneously, the project is unique in nature because rather than including routine operation tasks, it has a defined set of operations that are specifically designed to meet a particular objective.
A few examples of a project are as under:
- Software development based on client requirement
- Constructing a new building or a house
- Sales expansion in new potential markets
- Setting up a new office
- New product launch
- New technology development, etc.
All the above projects are required to be handled by experts so that these can be delivered on-time and within the defined budget.
– Characteristics of a Project
As stated above, a project includes a set of tasks that are interdependent and have a common objective to achieve. Below are the main characteristics of projects:
- A defined date to start and finish: Though a couple of projects may continue for several years, but it is not possible that a project will continue forever. A project should have a clearly defined beginning and ending, and also, an overview of in-between tasks.
- Develop some new product or service or result: As every project is considered unique, so it develops some new thing that was not available previously. In this way, a project is a one-time exercise that can’t be repeated in the way it held earlier.
- Boundaries of a project: There are certain constraints under which a project operates such as quality, time, functionality, money.
Management is referred to as a technique through which problems, needs can be identified and the use of different available resources such as materials, time, manpower, and cost can be controlled.
This includes different operational activities, resources, and imposed limitations on them.
A process in a project includes instructions that are simple and based on routine activities to obtain the desired output related to the project. It makes changes in the input in order to achieve the desired level of output.
A project’s resources include machinery, manpower, materials, and capital which a project requires to accomplish predefined goals. Out of these resources, material, manpower, and cost are the main resources of a project and are described below in detail:
– Manpower or work Resources
Irrespective of a project’s size and complexity; manpower or employees are essential for performing project tasks effectively. Considering manpower the most important project resource, project managers need to identify potential employees for the project in advance.
– Capital Resources
The next required resource for a project’s success is capital. All projects require money irrespective of their type, size, and complexity, etc. More precisely, cost resources include different tools and equipment that are used during the execution of the project.
In case of insufficient finances, an organization may not be able to deliver all aspects of the project efficiently. So, adequate funds are required for the smooth running of a project.
– Raw Materials or Material Resources
Material resources are also part of a project that includes raw materials of different types, supplies, and other related items of a project.
A project’s scope includes different parameters that create an impact on the project in its different phases such as planning, execution, and formulation.
Need for Project Management
There is a need for project management due to the below reasons:
- For proper utilization of investments in such a way that there is no wastage because a project involves huge investments.
- If a loss occurs in any project, then it may create an impact on the whole society. This impact can be direct or indirect impact and it may result in an organization’s failure.
- Failures may happen at the time of the production process and project management helps in preventing such failures and the smooth running of the project.
- A project may get affected by changes in economic-related conditions.
- At the time of execution of the project, technology may change.
Principles of Project Management
Project management principles are considered fundamental or basic rules that project managers should follow for managing projects in a successful manner. Below are the eight basic principles of project management:
Goals or Objectives of the Project
This is the first principle and is related to understanding the objective or goal of the project. In simple terms, it explains the expectations that have to be accomplished or the purpose behind an initiative of a project. Determining a clear goal of the project facilitates project managers to develop the overall project structure.
Once the objective is defined, then SMART goals are required to be developed in terms of more specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
Once the objectives of the project are determined, then the planning starts for how to achieve these objectives. Different constraints may arise at this point that will hamper the plan defined to complete the project. Out of such constraints is the budget. The budget has to play a big role in the overall scope of the project.
In the case of an approved budget assigned for the project management team, the project manager has to take care of the project priorities by determining the essential aspects of the project. Also, by doing so, the aspects that are not required or non-essential tasks can be removed or reduced.
Estimation and Scheduling
The next important principle of project management is making a schedule and work estimate for the project. The schedule should be focused on the time-frame for conducting activities. Different factors such as vacations, project commitments, bandwidth must be considered while making schedule and work estimation. This principle also ensures that there is no over-commitment to the project team in order to complete project activities in a timeframe that is unrealistic.
Defining Responsibilities of the Team
This principle states that the responsibilities of individuals should be defined in the project team. It is essential to make a checklist of responsibilities and it can be prepared through excel files, project management software, etc. Once the role of each team member is outlined, then the project manager can ensure the availability of the required deliverables so that team members can start their work.
Defining Project Milestones
Project milestones help in indicating that a particular part of the project is completed. Also, through milestones, the progress of the project can be tracked in a transparent way and the morale of team members can be enhanced by highlighting their achievements.
Managing Business Goals and Changing Priorities
In a running project, there is a big disruption related to the changes that happen in business goals or priorities. To cope-up with this principle, the project management plan needs to be flexible and ready to accept changes in case of sudden or unexpected happenings.
Responsibility and Accountability
This principle is an important principle for both the project manager and the team members of a project. Though the project manager possesses the specific skills to manage the team’s work and keep them on track, still, team members should also be responsible for the work assigned to them. Similarly, accountability for their work should also be there.
Review and Measuring Success
Doing periodic reviews of the success of the project is also equally important. Once the project is completed, then there is a need for the project review so that the areas of improvement and areas that went well can be determined. This also helps in discussing the areas where the project received success and areas that lacked behind and need work. This information is further helpful in the next project for the consistent improvement of the process.
Apart from the review, the ROI (return on investment) should also be calculated for the finished projects. The project is considered unsuccessful if its investment cost is more than the return received from the project.
Essentials of the Philosophy of Project Management
– Characteristics of Project Mindset
Project Management is related to mindset. A project mindset includes below main characteristics:
Time: In developing the right project mindset, time is considered an important input. The pace of the project can be improved if there is less time involved in the process. A typical mindset is to work in a comfort zone by increasing the time limits.
Sharing of Information: Information is considered a powerful tool for the success of today’s business. So, it is an important characteristic of mindset related to a project. A healthy mindset can be created throughout the organization and among different stakeholders by a smooth flow of information.
Responsiveness: This is related to an individual’s response level i.e. how quick the response will be.
Structured Planning: Through structured planning, the project manager and the rest of the project members can work conveniently and easily as per the plan. It also helps in effective and efficient utilization of resources of the project and also, activities can be prioritized according to the resource planning.
Processes: The project mindset focuses on flexible processes. Flexible processes generate better capabilities in terms of adaptability.
– Evaluation of the Project and Criteria for Selection
Below are the main criteria that are considered during the evaluation of the project:
Relevance to the market
- If any documentation in there related to different market opportunities?
- Is there any market analysis that has been done?
This criterion is related to the relevancy of the project as per the defined scope in the form of product and service.
- Understanding and developing a project in an innovative way require creativity.
- To measure the project, its objectives may be quantified in a creative way.
Work Plan and Project Management
- Is there any defined work plan and project management?
- Whether the roles & responsibilities of all team members of the project are clearly defined or not?
Justification of Effort
Are the efforts well synchronized with work and goals to be obtained? Is the project contains any value addition?
– Parameters of the Project for Negotiation
Below are the constraints for which the project team negotiates during working on a project:
- Terms and conditions of the contract
- Cost, scope, and objectives that are scheduled
- Changes related to the cost, schedules, or scope
– Value Addition of Project Management
Below are a few undesirable outcomes that may be part of the completion of the project:
- Wastage of resources
- Stretched deadlines
- Over budget
- Functional requirements of a customer that couldn’t meet
- A team that is over-stressed
A methodology of good project management consists of a framework for different processes. The guidelines provided by the framework for the project execution enhances the success rate chances of the project, so it does value-addition to the project. Good project management includes the following steps:
- Defining the project
- Setting tasks that are manageable
- Gaining resources
- Building a project team
- Planning and allocating different project-related tasks
- Supervision and control the work
- Providing project process report to senior officials
- Closure of the project once completed
- Project review
– Key Players of Project Management and their job roles
The project management key players or stakeholders include the following:
This person is the head of the project and manages the whole project and team members. He/ she gives clear guidelines and instructions to the entire project team and is responsible for meeting the project deadlines.
Employees, who are most directly indulged in the project work, are part of a certain enterprise or organization which is termed as a performing organization.
These are those individuals that will consume the product that is considered the end result of project work.
A certain group of people or organization or an individual that provide funding to the performing organization for the project, is known as a sponsor.
– Job Roles and responsibilities of Key Players
Below are the roles and responsibilities of the above stakeholders or players of a project:
- An organization may work on different projects simultaneously. An individual can’t manage all projects, therefore, a team of project managers is there to manage the projects.
- Teams may be different for different projects.
- Multiple projects can be handled by a project manager who is experienced along with his/her team.
- The responsibility of the project team also includes ensuring that once the project is completed, it will result in a profit in the business for which it was meant.
- It is the responsibility of the project team to coordinate and cooperate with each other at the time of working on a project.
- Responsibility of team members also includes the completion of the project according to the project plan.
The objectives of scoping include:
- Defining the boundaries of the project
- Defining the objectives that the project has to cover
- Providing clear directions in project management
By project scoping, the project manager can make a project plan’s outline.
– Outline of the Project Plan
Preparing a project’s outline is considered good practice for any type of project work. In preparing for the project, the outline acts as a template and include the below aspects:
This explains the business-related different aspects such as technological, economic, and political aspects. It also includes different circumstances i.e. business objectives, business strategy, issues, and past events related to the project.
Aim and Goals of the Project
The aim of the project shows the reason for initiating a project and also, its usage and other aspects related to the deal of the project.
Activities, Milestones, and outcomes
Different aspects of the project such as activities, milestones, and desired outcomes or deliverables of the project are decided by the project manager. A list would be prepared that contains all tasks involved in the project, identification of individuals who will be the in-charge of each task, time span for each activity or task, and the target time to complete each activity.
A general outline of the task includes:
- Developing and approving project plans
- Survey of literature
- Data collection and analysis
- Project presentation and recommendation
- Documentation project report
- Planned responses, uncertainties, risks
- Identification of critical success factors
- Use of GANTT chart for monitoring and controlling the project outcomes
A graphical representation that represents task duration against the time progression is considered a GANTT chart. It is a useful tool to plan and schedule projects. It also monitors and controls project outcomes.
Tasks Included in Scoping
A project manager has to perform the following tasks during project scoping:
- Establishing objectives of the project using interviews and workshops to ensure the alignment of the project with the organization’s business direction. These are the S.M.A.R.T goals or objectives in which S stands for specific, M is measurable, A denotes achievable, R stands for relevant and T is for time-specific.
- Establishing investigation scope for determining the dimension of the project and also, identification of the constraints, particular limitations related to the project.
- Identification of the project’s initial requirement and its validation against the objectives of the project.
- Identification of the criteria related to evaluating the success of the process involved in the project and the final project.
- To identify the requirement for training needs to understand client training.
- Reviewing the scope of the project by first checking the objectives, documents related to scope definition, and after that verification of the same.
Tools for Project Planning
Different planning tools are there that help in the successful coordination of a project. These tools are discussed below in detail:
Organization and Structure of the Project
- Identification of key personnel
- Identification of those business areas that lies within the project scope
a. Project Management Team
The accountability of the project lies in the senior management team. They are responsible for identifying both technical and client representatives, and sponsors of the project. A project management team includes both Stage managers and Project coordinators. Stage managers are those people who are responsible for planning and managing the day-to-day activities of the project for this stage. Tasks of project coordinators include control activities, coordination, and identifying the suitable staff to carry those tasks.
b. Stage Teams
The right staff should be identified for all stages of the project management life cycle. The appointment of team leaders and defining the structure of the team happen once the staff allocation to the stage is done. To document the responsibilities and time commitment of team members is important.
c. Key Resources
Individuals that act as key resources of the project may work for gathering both business and technical key resources. These individuals include project coordinators.
d. Key Stakeholders
Identification of management-level staff is important as these are considered critical for a project’s success. It is required to document the responsibilities of these key stakeholders.
Determining Training Requirements
Training includes the following:
- To assess the skills and potential of all those personnel who are identified as a part of the project team.
- To organize a training plan to introduce different technologies, methodologies, etc. to team members.
- To update the schedule of the project for incorporating the planned training activities.
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
WBS is considered a stage where the whole process of a project may include different sub-processes. It is a technique that breaks work content and cost of the work into different component parts for the purpose of analysis. The formation of key stages of the project happens at the highest or top level of WBS, which is utilized to highlight details at the bottom or lower levels of the project.
Work breakdown structure is developed by identification of key elements, dividing each element into its component parts.
Project Process Flows
Different interacting processes that are arranged in groups compose project management. These include:
This includes different activities that are required to obtain the target. There are three main categories of project process:
Project Management Process: The organization defines the project management process that helps in explaining and organizing the project work.
Product Oriented Process: This explains and develops products.
Process Interactions: These include inputs, outputs, tools, and techniques.
This consists of the action plans that are outlined by converting client documents. Other required information on which the decision needs to be made, is also the part of inputs.
This includes documents that are the outcome of the process which may consider as an input for further process.
Tools & Techniques
To create the desired output from input, there is a mechanism to be applied and that is known as tools and techniques. Different standard tools and techniques are there for each process. These can be used or customized as per the needs of the organization.
There are five process groups to categorize project management processes. These process groups are defined below:
- Initiating processes
- Planning Processes
- Executing processes
- Controlling processes
- Closing processes
Each process group’s interaction is defined below:
Initiating Processes: Management group decisions initiate each process that results in a project’s next phase.
Planning Processes: Planning is a key focus area of process interactions. These are very interdependent processes. So, things are required to be planned in a proper way.
Executing Processes: Nature and type of work are the key aspects on which these interactions are based. Their dependency is there on team responsiveness and innovations.
Controlling Processes: This includes the objective of measuring the performance of the project in terms of cost, time, and quality. Keeping track of the performance of the project is considered a continuous process.
Closing Processes: The interactions include project reviews, analysis, and findings of the performance.
It may be required to customize the project management processes as per the product’s requirement. For example, large projects may require a detailed project management plan, whereas; comparatively few details may be required in smaller projects.