What is Project Management?
A project in the simplest term is an activity that ensures a definite output. It comprises of series of tasks that are to be completed in order to reach a specific outcome. Project management on the other hand can be defined as the use of managerial expertise while initiating, planning as well as executing a project ensuring productive accomplishment.
History of Project Management
It has been observed that the history of project management is not certainly known or established. The old structures like the Pantheon, pyramids or the aqueducts of ancient Rome were the best projects undertaken that were properly managed. In the later period during the creation of the Agile Manifesto and the Gantt chart, people started to ponder upon the relevance of project management. Historical data reveals in the projects like construction of Great Wall of China (208 BC), a lot many workforces were involved to complete the project. Back then it was not known that what they were doing was actually a part of management that is project management.
Different stages of Project Management
It often becomes easier to handle the details of different projects if it is properly structured. Below are some of the stages of Project Management -
- Project Initiation- It is the initial phase in the project lifecycle. Here the value and feasibility of a project is measured. The team related to a project can abandon it if it seems totally unfeasible or unprofitable. The feasibility study is a must at this stage of a project to estimate potential benefits.
- Project Planning- Once a project passed the initial phase, it needs a solid plan to guide and motivate the team. A well-documented project plan can give ample amount of guidance for obtaining required resources. It gives a direction to the team in terms of quality outputs, handling risks and managing suppliers.
- Project Execution- This phase is particularly associated with project management. Execution basically is all about executing the goals set. It is all about giving an output that satisfies the customer. The execution phase heavily relies on the planning part. The amount of effort by the workforce are usually derived from the project plan.
- Project Monitoring- Monitoring is nothing but assessment of individual efforts put in a project. As the teams execute their plan, monitoring help in calculating the performance indicators as well as maintaining constant vigilance to keep the project moving smoothly.
- Project Closure- It is the final stage of a project during which teams close a project after all the necessary delivery of the finished output to the customer. This allows the team in the project life cycle to evaluate the project and move on to the next one.
Difference between A Project and A Program
A project may be defined as a specific, singular effort to deliver a tangible output. A program on the other hand is continuous in nature that consist of multiple projects. Therefore, the responsibility of a program manager is to oversee all the projects comprising the program to ensure its outcomes. The basic differences between projects and programs are-
- Scope- Elements of a project are exact and specific. The goals and scope are well defined. But as a program includes multiple projects, the elements may not be exact and specific.
- Length- The duration of a project is time constraint. It is intended to deliver within a specified time. But a program on the other hand often takes a very long time to complete. It rather continuous in nature.
Different attributes in Project Management
There exist different attributes under the ambit of project management. These attributes may differ depending upon situational factors. Some of the prominent attributes in project management are as follows-
- Project scope- It refers to the dimension and extension of a project taken. It also includes total participation of the workforce. The scope may differ depending upon the involvement.
- Timeframe- The timeframe of a project can be referred to as the amount of time gap between conception and implementation. Each timeframe can be further divided into smaller blocks under the domain of project scope.
- Organization- The domain called organization basically looks into how different projects are prioritize. The workflow and the participation along with the goals reached is calculated on the basis of individual attentiveness and determination. Tools like CPM and PERT calculate the workflow and establish a definite as well as optimized path for goal accomplishment.
- Communication- Communication in respect to every project may refer to as the usual tendency of communication with those involved in the project. The frequency and the format may vary accordingly depending on the projects undertaken. Apps like Sinnaps help the organizations for creating real time chat option to communicate efficiently.
- Stakeholder management- The number of stake holder may vary depending upon the number of projects undertaken. It is generally advisable to have not more than two stakeholders in a project. The more the involvement of the stakeholders, the more complex the whole process may turn out to be.
- Task assignation- It refers to as the process of assigning task to the workforce while in coordination with the project. The task is assigned to a team working on a project for better productivity.
- Quality of results- The final output expected from a project should adhere to specific pre-determined quality. The project undertaken should increase the benchmark or goals of the companies in question. Different types of projects result in different quality of achievement. Basically it depends on the request processed by the client.
Different project management tools
In order to yield productive outcome, tools of project management are a must. These tools are guide for better as well as proper implementation of the work. Some of the best tools of project management are as follows-
- Gantt chart- This chart as a tool in project management helps in tracking the various tasks assigned to the workforce. It was developed in the year 1917 during the period of Russian Revolution. Gantt chart are specifically designed in accordance with different standards of the industries. The mostly include tasks, milestones, phases needed as a part of the project in process. Gantt chart was first used on America’s Hoover Dam project in 1931.
- Logic network- It primarily decodes the sequential activities of a project over a certain period of time. It logically explores how an event precedes or follows another activity. It identifies critical path and milestones along with the dependencies of a project. Some of the valuable information that might get overlook can be traced through this technique.
- PERT CHART- PERT is commonly abbreviated as Program Evaluation and Review Technique. It is a kind of model developed by the United States Department of Defense US Navy special projects office in 1958 for project management. It is basically a method, analyzing various tasks involved in a given project.
- Product Breakdown Structure(PBS)- It is a hierarchical tree structure in a project management which is exhaustive in nature. It explains the project deliverable in a whole part relationship. A product breakdown structure clarify what is to be delivered by the project and can work on the breakdown of different blocks within the project.
Skills important for Project management
The fundamental skills one must have while handling projects or that are essential for successful project management are follow
- Technical skills and functional knowledge- Technical proficiency with commonly used technologies like Microsoft Project, Trello and Asana are required in order to help in the management of certain projects.
- Reporting and stake holder management – It is very essential to maintain good communication skills while handling projects of any organizations or commercial enterprises. Coordination with the managers, clients and the workforce are fundamental to accomplish the set of goals during a project. This in turn unifies each member within the project to deliver in accordance with the expectations.
- Resource planning and management- For a project to work well, it is required to be backed up with some sort of well-defined goals, planning, strategies and objectives. This helps in maintaining the flow of the workforce in proper direction.
- Cost / Budget assessment- For every project there has to be a cost benefit analysis. The expenditure incurred and the revenue generated explain the value of the project taken. An internal assessment as to how the expenditure in future projects are needed can be analyzed through proper budgetary analysis. This provides rationale for key procurements and expenses.
- Conflict management and resolution- This skill is a must in case of project management. In order to fix project discrepancies, stalled workflows and other loopholes while managing a project, the conflict management and resolution can help in overcoming certain internal roadblocks and ensure smooth functioning of a project.
- Leadership quality- Handling as well as delivering a project is not a one-man thing. It is a cumulative effort that requires leadership qualities. A project manager is always expected to have good leadership qualities so as to induce motivation by demonstrating commitment, confidence and genuine concern.
- Negotiation- Appropriate framework such as SWOT, risk- reward etc. can help both the parties involved to arrive at the best case scenario.
- Adaptability – The world is changing in a rapid way. Adaptability in workplaces along with adjustment with the workflow is very much essential while committing a project. Hence it is expected from a project manager to adapt to different challenging situations and put their best feet forward. Proactive adjustments are equally expected from an efficient project manager.
Common Project management methodologies
- Agile methodology- Agile is a set of principles for developing software. The basic principles are outlined in the form of a manifesto and are divided as
- Individuals and interactions with the management tools.
- Priority to working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Collaboration of customer over contract negotiation.
- Responding to changes while following a plan
As a methodology, agile in project management describes flexibility, iterative design and building process. It is conceived through serious tasks as the situation demands, rather than a pre-planned process.
- Scrum methodology- This in project management purposes different processes and principals to improve delivery. Scrum is one of the simplest framework to put the principles of agile into practice. The first and foremost goal of Scrum is to improve team work, communication and development of scheme. Scrum is basically a light approach that advocates using a small, cross functional team up to 9 people who work in a backlog. It is facilitated by a Scrum master that enables and leads the scrums, demos and reviews.
- Kanban methodology- Kanban in project management is a method that tries to increase the focus of the team and the team work. The key practices include visualizing the workforce, measuring the lead time and making policies for better opportunities. Kanban’s focuses mainly on measuring Lead time that is how long it takes to deliver. It also helps in steady output like production or support maintenance.
- Lean methodology- This methodology mainly focuses on the theme of efficiency. It starts with identifying the values and then maximizes it through continuous improvement by optimizing the workflow. It emphasized upon three dysfunctions, namely Muda, Mura and Muri.
- Muda- It is basically the process of eradicating waste that are unnecessary and are not all adding value to the consumer.
- Mura- It refers to standardizing briefs and approval processes.
- Muri- It is applied to minimize the number of projects run through the agency.
- Six Sigma methodology- This project management methodology was first introduced by the engineers in 1986 at Motorola. The fundamental aim of six sigma is to improve the quality by reducing the number of errors by identifying what is working and what is not. It uses methods which are mostly statistical in nature. The six sigma methodology is best suited for large organizations and companies who want to improve quality and efficiency by a data driven methodology.
International Project management Day
The International Project management Day is intended to motivate and encourage various project based organizations across the world who uses various project management methodologies to claim some kind of recognition within their organizations. The International Project management Day is always the First Thursday in November.
The core challenge of project management is to accomplish the definite tasks within time constraints. While doing so, sometimes the quality of the output yield is compromised. So, it is necessary to not jump into something without knowing the pros and cons of it. Project management requires a lot of effort and team work. This in any case shouldn’t be overlook and is of much attention and concern.
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