Project Management is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve all project goals within the given constraints.
This information is usually described in project documentation, created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time, and budget.The secondary challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and apply them to meet pre-defined objectives.
The objective of project management is to produce a complete project which complies with the client’s objectives. In many cases the objective of project management is also to shape or reform the client’s brief to feasibly address the client’s objectives. Once the client’s objectives are clearly established they should influence all decisions made by other people involved in the project – for example project managers, designers, contractors and sub-contractors. Ill-defined or too tightly prescribed project management objectives are detrimental to decision making.
A project is a temporary and unique endeavor designed to produce a product, service, or result with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or staffing) undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value.
The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast with business as usual (or operations), which are repetitive, permanent, or semi-permanent functional activities to produce products or services. In practice, the management of such distinct production approaches requires the development of distinct technical skills and management strategies.
Project management types
Project management methods can be applied to any project. It is often tailored to a specific type of projects based on project size, nature, industry or sector. For example, the construction industry, which focuses on the delivery of things like buildings, roads and bridges, has developed its own specialized form of project management that it refers to as construction project management and in which project managers can become trained and certified.
The information technology industry has also evolved to develop its own form of project management that is referred to as IT project management and which specializes in the delivery of technical assets and services that are required to pass through various lifecycle phases such as planning, design, development, testing, and deployment. Biotechnology project management focuses on the intricacies of biotechnology research and development.
Localization project management includes application of many standard project management practices to translation works even though many consider this type of management to be a very different discipline. There is public project management that covers all public works by the government which can be carried out by the government agencies or contracted out to contractors. Another classification of project management is based on the hard (physical) or soft (non-physical) type.
Common among all the project management types is that they focus on three important goals: time, quality, and cost. Successful projects are completed on schedule, within budget, and according to previously agreed quality standards i.e. meeting the Iron Triangle or Triple Constraint in order for projects to be considered a success or failure.
For each type of project management, project managers develop and utilize repeatable templates that are specific to the industry they’re dealing with. This allows project plans to become very thorough and highly repeatable, with the specific intent to increase quality, lower delivery costs, and lower time to deliver project results.
There are five phases to a project lifecycle; known as process groups. Each process group represent a series of inter-related processes to manage the work through a series of distinct steps to be completed. This type of project approach is often referred to as “traditional” or “waterfall”.
The five process groups are:
- Monitoring and Controlling
Some industries may use variations of these project stages and rename them to better suit the organization. For example, when working on a brick-and-mortar design and construction, projects will typically progress through stages like pre-planning, conceptual design, schematic design, design development, construction drawings (or contract documents), and construction administration.
While the phased approach works well for small, well-defined projects, it often results in challenge or failure on larger projects, or those that are more complex or have more ambiguities, issues and risk.
- Production or execution
- Monitoring and controlling
In project environments with a significant exploratory element (e.g., research and development), these stages may be supplemented with decision points (go/no go decisions) at which the project’s continuation is debated and decided.
The initiating processes determine the nature and scope of the project.If this stage is not performed well, it is unlikely that the project will be successful in meeting the business’ needs. The key project controls needed here are an understanding of the business environment and making sure that all necessary controls are incorporated into the project. Any deficiencies should be reported and a recommendation should be made to fix them.
The initiating stage should include a plan that encompasses the following areas. These areas can be recorded in a series of documents called Project Initiation documents. Project Initiation documents are a series of planned documents used to create order for the duration of the project.
These tend to include:
- project proposal (idea behind project, overall goal, duration)
- project scope (project direction and track)
- product breakdown structure (PBS) (a hierarchy of deliverables / outcomes and components thereof)
- work breakdown structure (WBS) (a hierarchy of the work to be done, down to daily tasks)
- responsibility assignment matrix (RACI – Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed)
- tentative project schedule (milestones, important dates, deadlines)
- analysis of business needs and requirements against measurable goals
- review of the current operations
- financial analysis of the costs and benefits, including a budget
- stakeholder analysis, including users and support personnel for the project
- project charter including costs, tasks, deliverables, and schedules
- SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the business
After the initiation stage, the project is planned to an appropriate level of detail. The main purpose is to plan time, cost, and resources adequately to estimate the work needed and to effectively manage risk during project execution. As with the Initiation process group, a failure to adequately plan greatly reduces the project’s chances of successfully accomplishing its goals.
While executing we must know what are the planned terms that need to be executed. The execution/implementation phase ensures that the project management plan’s deliverables are executed accordingly. This phase involves proper allocation, co-ordination and management of human resources and any other resources such as material and budgets. The output of this phase is the project deliverables.
Documenting everything within a project is key to being successful. To maintain budget, scope, effectiveness and pace a project must have physical documents pertaining to each specific task. With correct documentation, it is easy to see whether or not a project’s requirement has been met. To go along with that, documentation provides information regarding what has already been completed for that project. Documentation throughout a project provides a paper trail for anyone who needs to go back and reference the work in the past. In most cases, documentation is the most successful way to monitor and control the specific phases of a project. With the correct documentation, a project’s success can be tracked and observed as the project goes on. If performed correctly documentation can be the backbone to a project’s success
Monitoring and controlling
Monitoring and controlling consists of those processes performed to observe project execution so that potential problems can be identified in a timely manner and corrective action can be taken, when necessary, to control the execution of the project. The key benefit is that project performance is observed and measured regularly to identify variances from the project management plan.
Monitoring and controlling includes:
- Measuring the ongoing project activities (‘where we are’);
- Monitoring the project variables (cost, effort, scope, etc.) against the project management plan and the project performance baseline
- Identifying corrective actions to address issues and risks properly (How can we get on track again);
- Influencing the factors that could circumvent integrated change control so only approved changes are implemented.
Closing includes the formal acceptance of the project and the ending thereof. Administrative activities include the archiving of the files and documenting lessons learned. This phase consists of:
- Contract closure: Complete and settle each contract (including the resolution of any open items) and close each contract applicable to the project or project phase.
- Project close: Finalize all activities across all of the process groups to formally close the project or a project phase
Also included in this phase is the Post Implementation Review. This is a vital phase of the project for the project team to learn from experiences and apply to future projects. Normally a Post Implementation Review consists of looking at things that went well and analyzing things that went badly on the project to come up with lessons learned.