A project is a time bound activity taken-up with a group of individuals to put together a product, service or an outcome. It is transitional in nature such that it has a definite time for commencement and conclusion with a well-defined scope, resources, and timelines.
It is important that each and every person in the project management team is well-aware of their goals, resources, timelines, and processes. It is also important that the objective of the project is made clear to everyone.
It is possible that the people involved in a particular project, work from different locations, organisations, and even different geographies. Therefore, it is mandatory that the team involved in a project is in alignment right from initiation till the completion stage.
Project Management is the integration of processes, knowledge, methodology, skills, resources and techniques to achieve the objectives set for the project within the given time.
During the mid 20th century, Project Management got its distinct identity as a profession and ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge - PMBOK® Guide by the Project Management Institute(PMI)® identifies its fundamental components.
Following are the five stages that apply to most of the projects, be it software development, construction of a building or even the launch of a rocket:
Initiation: Understanding the client’s requirements and set goals and objectives.
Planning: Creating a design that shapes the project and outlines the cost, manpower required, resources, timelines and so on.
Execution: Commencement of the project work as per the timelines for completion of each segment.
Monitoring/Project Tracking: It’s at this stage the true project management skills come into play. While monitoring the progress of the project, one must look into interruptions, breakdowns, development and so on in order to make alternative plans to achieve the set objectives.
Conclusion/Project Delivery: It is the final product or the service that’s delivered to the client with a final settlement.
The constituents of Project Management comprise of the following:
What differentiates Project Management from other types of management is the streamlined process of the project lifecycle from conception to delivery and project handover with its numerous elements that shape the journey, influencing its rapid growth worldwide.
Apart from the cohesive team effort in the successful completion of any project, the one person on whose shoulders the entire project rests is the Project Manager. They have a profound knowledge of all the intricacies of the project to steer it efficiently towards the desired goal. There are five common stages to the project management cycle developed by the Project Management Institute – PMI®. These are Conception or the initial stage, planning, execution, performance monitoring and the closure or the concluding stage.
A team of more than 80 PMI® members developed the guide to Project Management Book of Knowledge – PMBOK® Guide. This guide book encapsulates the fundamental principles of project management to achieve the best results that have become a benchmark for project management studies worldwide. Acknowledging that each project is different, the guide details some of the process standards that can be applied to any project.
The 5 stages of Project Management:
The project is analysed in a comprehensive manner including its feasibility, scope, timelines, cost and so on with a bit of research on the related subject. This stage will help you decide whether you want to go ahead with the project considering all aspects including its stakeholders and the successful completion of the project on time. A Project Initiation Document (PID) is developed that summarises the scope and requirements of the project.
The success of the project depends on planning. It develops a blueprint that everyone can follow. One of the key components in the planning stage is goal setting and elements to measure the progress and success of the project. Goals must be realistic and achievable within the timelines with the resources allocated for it. The planning stage also defines the roles and responsibilities for each and every team member involved in the project with a clear definition of what is expected from them. One must also take into consideration the drawbacks and shortcomings at this stage that could create snags in the project. During the planning stage, measures must be outlined to steer clear of such situations.
There are two popular methods adapted for Goal Setting during the planning stage. They are SMART Goals and CLEAR Goals.
Specific – specific goals are set that have answers to who, what, where, why, when and which.
Measurable – yardsticks are developed to measure the success of the goals set.
Attainable – distinguishes the most crucial goals and the strategy to achieve them.
Realistic – A goal must be realistic to the extent that everyone identifies with it and agrees to achieve it.
Timely – Create the timeframe within which you can achieve the goal.
Collaborative – The goal must be such that all the team members get motivated to work together towards it.
Limited – The scope must be limited to ensure it is managed effectively.
Emotional – There must be an emotional connect towards achieving the goal such that it inspires them to do so.
Appreciable – Big tasks are fragmented to make it convenient to achieve.
Refinable – Goals must be refined according to incidents and situations during the process.
The project kick starts at this stage. It almost feels like the crux of the project since deliverables are defined. During the execution stage, the teams are declared, and resources are allocated. The project management plans are rolled out with procurements and supplies. Since the ball gets rolling, the Project Manager keeps an eye to guide the team in managing the project effectively. Project tracking is put in place. Tasks are assigned and executed while meetings are scheduled, and plans are altered to suit the requirements.
From the execution stage, the progress of the project is measured, which is a continuous process till the end of the project. Project tracking is done to ensure tasks are being completed as per schedule. Any deviations or shortcomings are immediately addressed with alternative measures. The smooth functioning of the project is determined through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Usually, a Project Manager selects two to five of these KPIs to measure the project performance.
Objectives - Tracking the schedule and examining the progress made to ensure it matches with stakeholders’ interest.
Quality – Completion and delivery of each task or module on time with no errors.
Budget Tracking – The Project Manager will check to ensure the project task has not exceeded the allocated budget. Based on the progression and the time taken, it is also estimated whether the project will be completed on time.
Performance – Issues that may arise are tackled efficiently and addressed to ensure smooth functioning. Alternative plans are made to handle such hitches.
This is when the project is completed and ready for handover. All members and team leaders are recognised and acknowledged. A concluding meeting is usually held with all the key stakeholders and team members to look back at what was done well and where were the pitfalls. This contributes to a learning experience that can be taken care of during the next project. A final project report is prepared including the final project budget, after approval from all stakeholders.
Project Management is an intricate and an essential part of any venture you start. It involves the development of a detailed strategy of the proposed initiative clearly defining its purpose, goals, budget, timelines, resources and so on. While explaining the scope of your project, you will also have to take into consideration the aspects that could slip or cause interruptions in order to be ready with alternative plans to achieve your concluding objective within the specified timeframe. Let’s look at some of the fundamental principles of Project Management that govern the success of the whole initiative. These basic principles are useful while starting a new program or introducing learning and development modules, especially if you’re collaborating on the HR, quality and operational enhancement processes.
The most important vision for a Project Manager is to successfully complete the project within time with all its deliverables. It must clearly define your goals and objectives. This will need to prepare a roadmap to achieve the set objectives. The goals and objectives you set must be measurable, relevant and realistic that can be achieved within the scheduled time frame. The appropriate resources and tools must be provided to achieve the goal. A cohesive approach bringing all the team members on to the same page with a single vision is critical to the success of any project.
A Project Manager works along with his/her team to develop a project plan with risk assessment and clarity on goals and objectives. They manage and guide the team throughout the project phase taking it to its desired closure. The Project Manager also takes inputs, feedback and approval from clients and other stakeholders for each of the task components of the project. Communication, documentation, risk management, reporting, scheduling and escalating issues are some of the important attributes that a Project Manager dwells with. Some of the skill sets mandatory for a Project Manager includes:
Once the responsibilities are taken, it is important to stay committed and be accountable for the project at every stage. Everyone in the project team must unanimously agree to the principles, goals, scope, quality and schedule of the project. Communication plays an important role in bridging the gaps. Sharing information and feedback will contribute to the smooth flow of the project.
The milestones are defined using this principle with a planner that indicates work schedules, estimates and timelines for each task or module. The detailed schedule will specify the man-hours at your disposal and the bandwidth you have to complete the project. It cautions you not to make unrealistic commitments that cannot be achieved in the given timeframe.
A clearly defined framework that has been agreed upon by all stakeholders and teammates will ensure smooth completion of the project. As opinions and views differ from people to people, the Project Manager must bring everyone on the same page with clearly defined objectives of the project to set expectations right. Each of the team members also must know their individual responsibilities and deliverables. Documenting the same using a Gantt chart, a project management software or even an excel sheet will help in mapping the tasks to get a bird’s eye view of the project. Monitoring the tasks closely will help in taking corrective action as and when required.
Clearly defining goals and milestones before the commencement of the project will bring clarity on expectations. Milestones indicate the successful completion of significant portions of the project. They would also boost the team’s morale and acknowledge them for their commitment.
Managing the scope of the project in order to maintain quality, time schedule and cost estimates with well-defined objectives is crucial to the success of any project. A timely review is part of the mandate to understand the shortcomings and take remedial measures after discussing with respective team members. This helps in consistent process improvement.
Being aware of risks and managing them effectively is part of the Project Manager’s role. One needs to be cautious about the potential risk factors during project execution, which could also be gathered using previous project experiences, data and knowledge from other members involved in the project. Remedial measures to encounter such risks is also essential. This is not a one-time activity; risk evaluation is a consistent exercise that must be taken up during various stages of the project. Understanding risks helps you navigate through it and emerge as a winner.
For more information about the principles of Project Management, look for a Project Management Professional(PMP)® Certification Training Institute near you.
Project Management seems complicated; however, it is easy to comprehend. The significant aspect is to know the benefits or advantages of Project Management. You ought to be a pro with basic organisational skills to manage any type of project effectively – it could be a wedding or the construction of a sea-link. Knowledge comes from playing the right chords to get the desired tune. It is the effective utilisation of resources and knowing how and when to use them appropriately.
Let’s look at the value addition given by Project Managers that will clarify why project management by a professional is so important. For starters, they hold the team and the client or stakeholders together. They are like a compass that shows the direction and guides you to your desired destination. They deliver whatever is required to keep the project on track through all ups and downs, managing conflicts and challenges, risks and team spirits that keep the project rolling. When a project is executed efficiently and managed well, it resonates beyond completion and handover. It leaves a trail of success.
Project Management ensures that each of the segments in the project development phase are aligned to its business objectives, complementing the client’s perspective in a broader sense. It aims to deliver value through return on investment. Facing risks and challenges is part of any project. The effectiveness of a Project Manager is when they are able to realign their strategy to achieve business objectives.
Any project that’s completed on time within the budget pleases the client and the stakeholders. And, when a client is happy, your work is appreciated and recommended to others. Smart Project Management ensures a healthy client-manager relationship.
A Project Manager is the leader of the project. They give direction and are in command. Without them, the project lacks alignment and pace. They motivate the teams to bring out the best in them and provide the route map in achieving the project goal. Project Managers ensure the teams work within the given framework and follow set guidelines. They follow processes and protocols and carry the responsibility of the entire project till its completion.
Without a leader, the teams lack direction and focus. They need clear briefs and a proper outlook. Their roles and responsibilities are clearly outlined by the Project Manager to ensure there are no conflicts. The project is executed in a systematic manner. Tasks are accomplished on time. The tasks are given in smaller portions that help the teams to focus better, complete on time and take corrective measures quickly whenever necessary,
A Project Manager estimates the budget, sets the objectives, evaluates timelines and allocates resources. Without the Project Manager, goals and objectives could be over-ambitious or illogical. The timelines may not be realistic and the resources and tools may not be adequate. A Project Manager is able to take into consideration all the risks involved and substitutes to manage unexpected outcomes. A Project Manager understands the scope of the project and delegates work in a manner that doesn’t feel overburdened to the teams.
A dedicated Project Manager for every project – large or small ensures timely delivery, proper utilisation of resources and quality output. With Project Management skills, the quality and consistency of the project segments are screened, tested and evaluated for quality assurance.
A Project Manager is trained in risk management. The anticipated risk factors are analysed to find a resolution that would not lose focus on the project deliverables and timelines. They will be ready with alternative plans in the event of any such eventuality.
There have been situations that in spite of proper planning, things go wrong, and people tend to take a reactive approach compromising on quality, cost, time and resources. A Project Manager knows his team members and through effective communication, they are able to bridge the gaps as they know the tasks given to each member of the team, their deadlines and resources allocated to each of them. They constantly monitor the progress to ensure the project is on track. Without a systematic proactive approach to Project Management, companies and clients take the risk of project delays or failure, lack of people management, wastage of resources and overall unpleasant experiences.
A project needs to be monitored regularly to ensure tasks are completed on time and eventualities are addressed effectively. Project Managers review the project at every stage. It is like a diagnostic tool to take corrective action as and when required instead of waiting till the end and doing a post-mortem. They provide regular status reports with details of tasks completed, work in progress, time spent, resources utilised and so on. These reports are evaluated by the teams as well as the stakeholders, which helps in patching the differences in any and ensuring work flows smoothly.
Project Management enriches your experience with each project based on its success and shortfalls. After the completion of each project, Project Managers look back to analyse and review the aspects that went well and the challenges they faced in order to find ways of implementing a different approach to the next project. Each project cycle gets documented, which is a rich source of information for reference to other Project Managers.
Project Management strategies drive organisational success. Project Managers invest in time, project planning and due diligence contributing to the success of the business in the larger context. They conduct frequent reviews, risk assessment, measure success and ensure qualitative output. Organisations must define ROI, manage what’s measured, use analytical tools to align projects with strategy and implement strong project management practices that will determine the growth of the organisation.
In order to understand how project, program and portfolio work together in Project Management, let’s first look at how Project, Program and Portfolio are defined. These are the three Ps of Project Management. Projects form a part of the larger program and programs outline portfolios. Even though the three Ps are linked and sound similar in meaning, the functions associated with each of these are different in terms of Project Management. Let’s understand each of them separately.
A project is a provisional undertaking with a well-defined beginning and end that is aimed at creating a product, service or an outcome. Various aspects of the project such as scope, cost estimate, time, risks and resources are managed effectively to achieve the chosen objective.
What is a Program in the scope of Project Management?
In most cases a group of projects is managed in a compatible manner to achieve the envisioned goal. Such a collection or a group of projects is termed as a Program in Project Management. Therefore, when the collective projects are completed, the program is complete. In Project Management, the projects are coordinated collectively that may have the same goal with some inter-dependencies.
Program Management is explained in the PMBOK® Guide by Project Management Institute (PMI)® as, “The application of knowledge and skills to achieve program objectives and to obtain benefits and control not available by managing related program components individually.”
A set of projects and programs that are managed as a group to achieve a strategic objective make a portfolio in Project Management terms. For example, all the projects, programs and operational work within an organisation may comprise of a portfolio. There could be many such portfolios within an organisation. Portfolios are used to accomplish business objectives in an organisation, such as increasing sales, reducing costs, maximising profits, launching a new marketing campaign and so on.
A collective analysis of Project, Program and Portfolio Management
Project, Program and Portfolio are different from each other and still interdependent as they work towards a common goal. Organisations can ensure that projects align with their business strategies using portfolio management techniques. This gives clarity on why a particular work is being done. In order to have an effective project and program management, it is imperative that plans are factual, and communication is precise in order to take appropriate decisions within the portfolio.