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What is Project Management?
Project management is the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives.
A project is a unique, transient endeavour, undertaken to achieve planned objectives, which could be defined in terms of outputs, outcomes or benefits. A project is usually deemed to be a success if it achieves the objectives according to their acceptance criteria, within an agreed timescale and budget.
The core components of project management are:
- defining the reason why a project is necessary;
- capturing project requirements, specifying quality of the deliverables, estimating resources and timescales;
- preparing a business case to justify the investment;
- securing corporate agreement and funding;
- developing and implementing a management plan for the project;
- leading and motivating the project delivery team;
- managing the risks, issues and changes on the project;
- monitoring progress against plan;
- managing the project budget;
- maintaining communications with stakeholders and the project organisation;
- provider management;
- closing the project in a controlled fashion when appropriate.
When would we use project management?
Projects are separate to business-as-usual activities, requiring people to come together temporarily to focus on specific project objectives. As a result, effective teamwork is central to successful projects.
Project management is concerned with managing discrete packages of work to achieve objectives. The way the work is managed depends upon a wide variety of factors.
The scale, significance and complexity of the work are obvious factors: relocating a small office and organising the Olympics share many basic principles but offer very different managerial challenges.
A good distinguishing factor is often to look at the nature of the objectives.
Objectives may be expressed in terms of outputs (such as a new HQ building), outcomes (such as staff being relocated from multiple locations to the new HQ), benefits (such as reduced travel and facilities management costs) or strategic objectives (such as doubling the organisation’s share price in three years).
Why do we use project management?
Investment in effective project management will have a number of benefits to both the host organisation and the people involved in delivering the project. It will:
- provide a greater likelihood of achieving the desired result;
- ensure efficient and best value use of resources;
- satisfy the differing needs of the project’s stakeholders.
5 Basic Phases of Project Management
The process of directing and controlling a project from start to finish may be further divided into 5 basic phases:
1. Project conception and initiation
An idea for a project will be carefully examined to determine whether or not it benefits the organization. During this phase, a decision making team will identify if the project can realistically be completed.
2. Project definition and planning
A project plan, project charter and/or project scope may be put in writing, outlining the work to be performed. During this phase, a team should prioritize the project, calculate a budget and schedule, and determine what resources are needed.
3. Project launch or execution
Resources’ tasks are distributed and teams are informed of responsibilities. This is a good time to bring up important project related information.
4. Project performance and control
Project managers will compare project status and progress to the actual plan, as resources perform the scheduled work. During this phase, project managers may need to adjust schedules or do what is necessary to keep the project on track.
5. Project close
After project tasks are completed and the client has approved the outcome, an evaluation is necessary to highlight project success and/or learn from project history.
Projects and project management processes vary from industry to industry; however, these are more traditional elements of a project. The overarching goal is typically to offer a product, change a process or to solve a problem in order to benefit the organization.
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