Fundamentals of Project Management
To put it humorously we can say, that, if one is spending hours planning and re-planning a weekend casual shopping and
referring to food at parties as “deliverables” then, he is a project manager.
Project management is the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives.
Nature of Project Management
A project is a one-time activity that produces a specific output and or outcome, for example, a building or a major new computer system. This is in contrast to a program, which is an ongoing process, such as a quality control program.
Management is an ongoing process but project management has a final deliverable and a finite timespan. A project manager needs to have technical skills, soft- skills and good business awareness.
The processes of Project management
Planning is carried out in the early stages of a project. There should be ongoing monitoring on budget, schedule and resources. Estimates, deadlines and milestones may need to be altered as the project progresses.
No project is without problems but the project manager needs to control them so they do not adversely affect the end result. The control phase also deals with risk management.
Good communication is one of the most important factors affecting project success. Many problems can be avoided if there is open, honest communication between everyone involved on a project.
D. People management
A project manager is responsible for managing the individuals working on the project as well as the tasks and risks. This includes motivating people, delivering constructive feedback etc.
The phases of Project management
This first stage of a project defines the business case, the justification for the project, which will be used to ensure the project stays on track. It also states what the project is intended to achieve, how that will be achieved and the scope of the work. In this phase, those involved in the project will be assigned their responsibilities.
The requirements documentation describes the aims of the project in detail including timescales and constraints. It should also define the criteria that will constitute a successful project and will be used to manage the expectations of the stakeholders. Many projects use an iterative process to reach agreement on the requirements, although some projects take an ‘agile’ approach to project management.
The project plan includes details about how the project work will be carried out, how it will be monitored and controlled, how communication will be facilitated and information about costs and timescales. Once a project is underway the focus is more on the project schedule.
There are many project management tools available to assist with scheduling; one of the most common is the Gantt Chart.
The person or group assigned to carry out a task will need to know, in detail, what the task involves as well as any dependencies and timescales, and will also need to understand the criteria by which each task is deemed complete.
Once there is an approved end product the project can be formally closed and a final review held to learn from both the successes and the mistakes and take that experience forward to the next project.
Projects and project management processes vary from industry to industry. The goal is typically to offer a product, change a process or to solve a problem in order to benefit the organization.
The following book will be useful in understanding the fundamentals of Project Management in a corporate scenario.
It is a business novel titled, Critical Chain, written by Eliyahu M Goldraatt.