Project Management

Project management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time. 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 staffing) undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value. The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast with business as usual (or operations),which are repetitive, permanent, or semi-permanent functional activities to produce products or services. In practice, the management of such distinct production approaches requires the development of distinct technical skills and management strategies.

The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals within the given constraints. This information is usually described in project documentation, created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time, quality and budget. The secondary — and more ambitious — challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and apply them to meet pre-defined objectives. The object of project management is to produce a complete project which complies with the client’s objectives. In many cases the object of project management is also to shape or reform the client’s brief in order to feasibly be able to address the client’s objectives. Once the client’s objectives are clearly established they should influence all decisions made by other people involved in the project – for example project managers, designers, contractors and sub-contractors. Ill-defined or too tightly prescribed project management objectives are detrimental to decision making.

Project management types

Project management can apply to any project, but it is often tailored to accommodate the specific needs of different and highly specialized industries. For example, the construction industry, which focuses on the delivery of things like buildings, roads, and bridges, has developed its own specialized form of project management that it refers to as construction project management and in which project managers can become trained and certified.[16] The information technology industry has also evolved to develop its own form of project management that is referred to as IT project management and which specializes in the delivery of technical assets and services that are required to pass through various lifecycle phases such as planning, design, development, testing, and deployment. Biotechnology project management focuses on the intricacies of biotechnology research and development.[17] Localization project management includes many standard project management practices even though many consider this type of management to be a very different discipline. It focuses on three important goals: time, quality and budget. Successful projects are completed on schedule, within budget, and according to previously agreed quality standards.[18]

For each type of project management, project managers develop and utilize repeatable templates that are specific to the industry they’re dealing with. This allows project plans to become very thorough and highly repeatable, with the specific intent to increase quality, lower delivery costs, and lower time to deliver project results.

Approaches

A 2017 study suggested that the success of any project depends on how well four key aspects are aligned with the contextual dynamics affecting the project, these are referred to as the four P’s:[19]

  • Plan: The planning and forecasting activities.
  • Process: The overall approach to all activities and project governance.
  • People: Including dynamics of how they collaborate and communicate.
  • Power: Lines of authority, decision-makers, organograms, policies for implementation and the like.

There are a number of approaches to organizing and completing project activities, including: phased, lean, iterative, and incremental. There are also several extensions to project planning, for example based on outcomes (product-based) or activities (process-based).

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.[20]

Critical chain project management

Critical chain project management (CCPM) is an application of the theory of constraints (TOC) to planning and managing projects, and is designed to deal with the uncertainties inherent in managing projects, while taking into consideration limited availability of resources (physical, human skills, as well as management & support capacity) needed to execute projects.

The goal is to increase the flow of projects in an organization (throughput). Applying the first three of the five focusing steps of TOC, the system constraint for all projects, as well as the resources, are identified. To exploit the constraint, tasks on the critical chain are given priority over all other activities. Finally, projects are planned and managed to ensure that the resources are ready when the critical chain tasks must start, subordinating all other resources to the critical chain.

Lean project management

Lean project management uses the principles from lean manufacturing to focus on delivering value with less waste and reduced time

Project production management

Project production management is the application of operations management to the delivery of capital projects. The Project production management framework is based on a project as a production system view, in which a project transforms inputs (raw materials, information, labor, plant & machinery) into outputs (goods and services).[31]

Product-based planning

Product-based planning is a structured approach to project management, based on identifying all of the products (project deliverables) that contribute to achieving the project objectives. As such, it defines a successful project as output-oriented rather than activity- or task-oriented.[32] The most common implementation of this approach is PRINCE2.[33]

Planning

After the initiation stage, the project is planned to an appropriate level of detail (see example of a flow-chart).[34] 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.

Project planning generally consists of[36]

  • determining the project management methodology to follow (e.g. whether the plan will be defined wholly up frontiteratively, or in rolling waves);
  • developing the scope statement;
  • selecting the planning team;
  • identifying deliverables and creating the product and work breakdown structures;
  • identifying the activities needed to complete those deliverables and 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;
  • risk planning;
  • developing quality assurance measures;
  • gaining formal approval to begin work.

Additional processes, such as planning for communications and for scope management, identifying roles and responsibilities, determining what to purchase for the project and holding a kick-off meeting are also generally advisable.

For new product development projects, conceptual design of the operation of the final product may be performed concurrent with the project planning activities, and may help to inform the planning team when identifying deliverables and planning activities.

Executing

While executing we must know what are the planned terms that need to be executed. 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 output of this phase is the project deliverables.

Project Documentation

Documenting everything within a project is key to being successful. In order to maintain budget, scope, effectiveness and pace a project must have physical documents pertaining to each specific task. With correct documentation, it is easy to see whether or not a project’s requirement has been met. To go along with that, documentation provides information regarding what has already been completed for that project. Documentation throughout a project provides a paper trail for anyone who needs to go back and reference the work in the past. In most cases, documentation is the most successful way to monitor and control the specific phases of a project. With the correct documentation, a project’s success can be tracked and observed as the project goes on. If performed correctly documentation can be the backbone to a project’s success

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, when necessary, to control the execution of the project. The key benefit is that project performance is observed and measured regularly to identify variances from the project management plan.

Monitoring and controlling includes:[37]

  • Measuring the ongoing project activities (‘where we are’);
  • Monitoring the project variables (cost, effort, scope, etc.) against the project management plan and the project performance baseline (where we should be);
  • Identifying corrective actions to address issues and risks properly (How can we get on track again);
  • Influencing the factors that could circumvent integrated change control so only approved changes are implemented.

In multi-phase projects, the monitoring and control process also provides feedback between project phases, in order to implement corrective or preventive actions to bring the project into compliance with the project management plan.

Project maintenance is an ongoing process, and it includes:[2]

  • Continuing support of end-users
  • Correction of errors
  • Updates to the product over time

Monitoring and controlling cycle

In this stage, auditors should pay attention to how effectively and quickly user problems are resolved.

Over the course of any construction project, the work scope may change. Change is a normal and expected part of the construction process. Changes can be the result of necessary design modifications, differing site conditions, material availability, contractor-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. Hence, the owner usually requires a final record to show all changes or, more specifically, any change that modifies the tangible portions of the finished work. The record is made on the contract documents – usually, but not necessarily limited to, the design drawings. The end product of this effort is what the industry terms as-built drawings, or more simply, “as built.” The requirement for providing them is a norm in construction contracts. Construction document management is a highly important task undertaken with the aid an online or desktop software system, or maintained through physical documentation. The increasing legality pertaining to the construction industry’s maintenance of correct documentation has caused the increase in the need for document management systems.

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 commencement of the project.

Closing

Closing includes the formal acceptance of the project and the ending thereof. Administrative activities include the archiving of the files and documenting lessons learned.

This phase consists of:[2]

  • Contract closure: Complete and settle each contract (including the resolution of any open items) and close each contract applicable to the project or project phase.
  • Project close: Finalize all activities across all of the process groups to formally close the project or a project phase

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.

Project managers

project manager is a professional in the field of project management. Project managers are in charge of the people in a project. People are the key to any successful project. Without the correct people in the right place and at the right time a project cannot be successful. Project managers can have the responsibility of the planning, execution, controlling, and closing of any project typically relating to the construction industry, engineering, architecture, computing, and telecommunications. Many other fields of production engineering, design engineering, and heavy industrial have project managers.

A project manager needs to understand the order of execution of a project to schedule the project correctly as well as the time necessary to accomplish each individual task within the project. A project manager is the person accountable for accomplishing the stated project objectives. Project Managers tend to have multiple years’ experience in their field. A project manager is required to know the project in and out while supervising the workers along with the project. Typically in most construction, engineering, architecture and industrial projects, a project manager has another manager working alongside of them who is typically responsible for the execution of task on a daily basis. This position in some cases is known as a superintendent. A superintendent and project manager work hand in hand in completing daily project task. Key project management responsibilities include creating clear and attainable project objectives, building the project requirements, and managing the triple constraint (now including more constraints and calling it competing constraints) for projects, which is cost, time, and scope for the first three but about three additional ones in current project management. A typical project is composed of a team of workers who work under the project manager to complete the assignment. A project manager normally reports directly to someone of higher stature on the completion and success of the project.

A project manager is often a client representative and has to determine and implement the exact needs of the client, based on knowledge of the firm they are representing. The ability to adapt to the various internal procedures of the contracting party, and to form close links with the nominated representatives, is essential in ensuring that the key issues of cost, time, quality and above all, client satisfaction, can be realized.

See also