Description: Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria. A project is a temporary endeavor designed to produce a unique product, service or result with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables) undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals within the given constraints. The primary constraints are scope, time, quality and budget.
There are a number of approaches for managing project activities including lean, iterative, incremental, and phased approaches.
Regardless of the methodology employed, careful consideration must be given to the overall project objectives, timeline, and cost, as well as the roles and responsibilities of all participants and stakeholders.
A traditional phased approach identifies a sequence of steps to be completed. In the "traditional approach", five developmental components of a project can be distinguished (four stages plus control):
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 initiating stage should include a plan that encompasses the following areas:
- Outlining business needs/requirements in measurable goals;
- Review of current operations;
- Financial analysis of the costs and benefits;
- Conduct stakeholder analysis, including users, and support personnel for the project;
- Draft project charter including costs, tasks, deliverables, and schedule.
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.
The Planning phase generally consists of:
- Determining how to plan (e.g. by ‘level of detail’ or Rolling Wave planning);
- Developing the scope statement;
- Selecting the core team;
- Identifying project deliverables and creating the work breakdown structure;
- Identifying the activities needed to complete those deliverables;
- Networking the activities in their logical sequence;
- Estimating the resource requirements for the activities;
- Estimating time and cost for activities;
- Developing the schedule;
- Developing the budget;
- Setup kickoff meeting;
- Risk planning;
- Gaining formal approval to begin work.
Production or Execution
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 outputs of this phase are the project deliverables.
- 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. 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;
- 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;
- Address changes to the project using an established change management process.
Change Management: Over the course of any project, changes to the work scope are inevitable. Change is a normal and expected part of the process. Changes can be the result of necessary design modifications, differing site conditions, material availability, user-requested changes, value engineering and impacts from third parties, to name a few. Beyond executing the change in the field, the change normally needs to be documented to show what was actually constructed. This is referred to as change management. The project owner usually requires a final record to show all changes or, more specifically, any change that modifies the tangible portions of the finished work.
When changes are introduced to the project, the viability of the project has to be re-assessed. It is important not to lose sight of the initial goals and targets of the projects. When the changes accumulate, the forecasted result may not justify the original proposed investment in the project. Successful project management identifies these components, and tracks and monitors progress so as to stay within time and budget frames already outlined at the start of the project.
Closing includes the formal acceptance of the project completion. 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.
- Project close: Finalize all activities across all of the process groups to formally close the project.
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.