Project Management Processes: An Overview Of The Stages
By Ram kumar Armugam
The project management processes as defined by PMI® PMBOK® 6 consists of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing. Every project is a temporary endeavor and will need to be executed well based on the proper planning to avoid unnecessary overruns and schedule deviations. Managing projects is no wonder a challenge that entails conceiving a certain strategy and creating a workable methodology apart from problem-solving, communication, and team-building skills. These parameters divide a project into different phases as defined by PMI’s PMBOK and understanding and applying these PM process will help to acquaint with project management process and why it is necessary to execute a project in specific steps.The following video will walk you through the different stages and processes involved in project management.Let us now see how the project lifecycle interacts with overall project management process. In predictive small projects, the project management processes will be followed throughout the entire project though some of the processes may be iterated throughout the cycle.Nevertheless, large projects may require each lifecycle phases to be managed by the process groups. The example given below has each phase of the project lifecycle go through the project management process groups due to its demand. An overall initiating effort will be done by the project manager leading to project charter creation and do high-level planning to get approvals. Once this is done, there would be separate phases for each stage in the project planning, execution, control, and closure which would typically hand out deliverables for that phase. Then the project management process will be repeated for the next stage of the project lifecycle.The initiating process formally kickstarts the project or project phase. This involves identifying and analyzing stakeholders for alignment with their goals and objectives. This phase provides a guiding vision for the project that will help achieve high-level scope and any known constraints. The initiating phase formally gives the project manager the needed authority and information necessary to start the project.The output of the initiating phase is project charter and stakeholder register.Project Planning is a very important phase of any project that gives details about the project and helps in getting it organized before the start of the work. This presents a great opportunity to save time, cost, and resources. In the planning phase, the project manager and the team performs a detailed analysis of whether the project can be executed according to the details present in the project charter. Then they decide on how to achieve the strategic objectives through the project management process and knowledge areas. The project planning is iterative and not a one-time effort. This is because each process will use the results of the previous processes and may affect the outcomes. In the real world, the project plan and documents are revisited after identification of the risks, performing qualitative and quantitative risk analysis. The level of project planning by the project manager and the team always depends on the needs of the project. A highly visible project on an accelerated timetable with very limited variance demands detailed project planning rather than a low priority project with adjustable schedules.The output of the planning process are project management plans and project documents that will provide directions for execution and control of the project.The objective of executing process group is to complete the work defined in the project management plans to meet the objectives. The main goal is to achieve the outcome by adhering to budget, timeline, and schedule as mentioned in the project management plan and project documents. This phase is where the actual work will be done and will be focused on managing process, people and communicating according to plan. The project manager constantly updates the project management plan and project documents to accurately reflect the current status of the project. He or she also creates issues log to record and maintain project issue details, resolution and also who will be responsible for resolving the issues within the time.Monitoring and Controlling process will measure the actual performance of the project against project management plan and approving changes through change management including corrective and preventive actions along with defect fix. The project manager uses the project baseline documents (scope, cost, schedule) to compare against the actual performance and suggest course corrections. He/She also obtains formal acceptance of interim deliverables from the customer. If the project does not go according to plan due to scope changes, the project manager re-plans and makes updates to the project management plans and project baseline documents to reflect the approved changes.The final processes group is the closing group where the product scope is completed. This will have administrative activities including finalizing the paperwork needed to finish the project. The project will also have retrospectives from customers and team that goes into the “lessons learned” document. The project manager ensures all the project management documents are updated to complete status and hands off all project deliverables to appropriate stakeholders.ConclusionThe project management process is the core of any project that helps the project manager navigate through all issues that arise in the project. The project management plans and the baseline documents serve as important documents and a guiding light for the project manager to make the project a great success.
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Project Management Methodologies: Evolution and Benefits
By Ram kumar Armugam
Over several decades, projects have been initiated or undertaken due to market demands, business needs, at the behest of customer request, technological advancements and to comply with regulatory requirements. As enterprises approach some degree of maturity on managing projects, it becomes necessary for streamlining and standardizing the way these projects are executed, be it product development or providing services.Multiple project management methodologies were followed and in fact, newer methodologies have evolved lately and have been adopted by organizations depending on the degree of cultural challenges and resistance exhibited by the people. We will look at some of the key project management methodologies followed in today’s world.WaterfallThe first formal description of the Waterfall model is often cited as early as 1970 in an article by Winston W. Royce, although he did not use the term Waterfall in that article. It was the first process model to be introduced and is simple and easy to understand. Waterfall method has seen an abundant usage in projects where the needs or requirements are well understood and do not change much over time. It follows a linear development by phases with clearly defined stage gates and review processes. Each of the phases is cascaded down and will start when the defined goals are met by the previous phase and signed off.The phases are-Requirement Analysis: - User requirements are gathered through workshops, elicitations and business rules, schemas are definedSystem Design: - Blueprint of the system is charted.Implementation: - Developing the actual product or software happensSystem Testing: - Proving that the software works through unit/integration testing and fixing defects that come out of it.System Implementation: - Productionizing the softwareMaintenance: - Operation, maintenance of the production software.The main advantage of this model is, it allows for segmenting the work like departments and manage them easily. This model also faced some major criticisms which even led Royce to change his view towards Waterfall. It is less costly to change requirements during the design stage and it is more expensive to adapt to changes when construction has already started. This method does not also provide a working version software to client till production and there is no provision to improvise design of the system midway as there is no feedback mechanism.The Waterfall methods can be adopted on a fixed scope and fixed pricing contracts where the clients don’t expect the requirements to change frequently over time. It would also be beneficial if the project team is also experienced in this type of plan-driven heavy-weight approach to deliver quality products. The performance of the project is measured based on the delivery date and the budget utilized.AgileIn 2001, a lot of practitioners using Extreme Programming, SCRUM, DSDM, Adaptive Software Development, Crystal and Feature-Driven Development convened in Utah ski resort and were sympathetic to the need for an alternative to documentation-driven, heavyweight software development processes. As a result, “Agile Manifesto” was signed paving way for Agile Software Development. It is an umbrella term for several iterative and incremental development and some of the popular include Scrum, XP, Crystal, DSDM, FDD, and Lean."Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen."- Edward V. BerardThe fundamental difference between Waterfall and Agile is that Waterfall delivers product increment at the end of the project but Agile emphasis on delivering smaller increments more frequently through multiple iterations. Agile harnesses customer’s competitive advantage and proposes process that accounts changes even late in the game. This is achieved through adaptive planning and evolutionary design. The client is also involved throughout the development process unlike Waterfall method and feedback is received in every iteration through a feedback loop and the product is improvised based on the feedback. But can all projects be executed in Agile? The answer is no, as each project is unique and if the scope of the projects is clear like still water and does not change over time, executing those projects in Agile would be an overkill.The most common Agile methodologies that are widely used and gained popularity are Scrum and Extreme Programming. Scrum focuses on shorter iterations called Sprints ranging (generally) 2 weeks to 1 month and emphasis on delivering shippable product increments every sprint. In Scrum, design is emergent and evolves over a period of time. The Scrum framework consists of Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development Team.Product Owner: - Responsible for the product vision and building the product right. A good product owner should prioritize requirements and is empowered to make decisions about the product.Scrum Master: - Serves as servant leader, helping team members work together cohesively, removing impediments to progress, facilitating meetings and discussions.Team: - Cross-functional and responsible for who will work on which tasks, which engineering practices to be followed necessarily to achieve project goals.Extreme Programming created by Kent Beck also advocates frequent releases in shorter development lifecycles. The most common elements of XP are pair programming, code review, test-first development, continuous, collective code ownership, metaphor, coding standards, refactoring, simple design, and frequent customer collaboration. The idea is based on the benefits of traditional software engineering practices when taken to extreme levels. Sometimes Scrum will also employ some of the engineering practices from XP like refactoring, simple design, TDD etc.Agile harnesses customer’s competitive advantage by welcoming requirement even late in the development. The Agile methodologies will be most suitable for time and materials contract where the time and cost are fixed but the scope changes frequently based on customer needs. The performance of the Agile projects is measured based on the value delivered to the customer.KanbanThe Kanban methodology (originated from Toyota Production System) as formulated by David J. Anderson is also incremental and evolutionary like the Agile methodology and recommends system changes for organizations to function optimally. Kanban mainly focuses on delivering continuous flow of value to the clients and it accomplishes it by placing constraints on the system.It is based on below core principles,Visualize the workflow: - Ability to see all the work items of each otherLimit WIP: - Balances the flow of work items on each lane to generate optimal outputManage the flow: - Pull the items from backlog (instead of push) when each work item is finished thereby enhancing the flow of values quickly.Make process explicit: - Clearly define process and socialize with the team.Feedback loops: - Encourages standup meetings (10-15 minutes), reviews to incorporate feedbacksImprove collaboration: - Teams achieve continuous delivery through shared knowledge and collective understanding.Kanban is more useful when the priorities changes frequently and it also balances demand against the throughput (cycle time and lead time) which guarantees the most valued features are being delivered to the client. Similar to any of the Agile methods, this method is highly responsive to changes. It also maximizes the amount of work not being done by eliminating waste and activities that don’t add value. Scrum doesn’t allow changes mid-way during the sprint, but Kanban can help in adding or removing backlog items any time during the project and helps in continuous delivery.Kanban is used widely when there is a continuous stream of work and tackling a small number of tasks fluidly and concurrently. It is also suitable for time and materials contract similar to Scrum Framework.ConclusionThere are many more project management methodologies followed in the industry and each project may demand specific methods to be successful. Now hybrid models are getting evolved like a mixture of Waterfall and Agile that gives the flexibility to pivot and use the best methods for a specific aspect of the project. Regardless of what method has been employed to successfully complete the project, there is also going to be a need of tools as well along with process models that are flexible enough to allow to collaborate across the enterprise and deliver projects.
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