A project is defined as a planned undertaking of related activities to reach an objective that has a beginning and an end. All projects solve some type of problem, but projects may also be established simply to determine and define feasible alternative solutions to problems.
Characteristics of a project:
- Objective: Each has a specific goal to reach.
- Schedule: Point in time in which they must be accomplished.
- Complexity: Does the technology exist to achieve the project objectives?
- Size and Nature of Task: Step-by-step plan of action.
- Resources: Labor, personnel, equipment, materials, facilities, etc.
- Organizational Structure: The ‘meshing’ of project requirements into the existing organization.
- Information and Control Systems: These must be structured to handle problems through the typical lines of authority
It is the application of a collection of tools and techniques…to direct the use of diverse resources toward the accomplishment of a unique, complex, one-time task within time, cost, and quality constraints.
Project life cycle.
- Initiating the Project
The project management techniques related to the project initiation phase include:
- Establishing the project initiation team. This involves organizing team members to assist in carrying out the project initiation activities.
- Establishing a relationship with the customer. The understanding of your customer’s organization will foster a stronger relationship between the two of you.
- Establishing the project initiation plan. Defines the activities required to organize the team while working to define the goals and scope of the project.
- Establishing management procedures. Concerned with developing team communication and reporting procedures, job assignments and roles, project change procedure, and how project funding and billing will be handled.
- Establishing the project management environment and workbook. Focuses on the collection and organization of the tools that you will use while managing the project.
- Planning the Project
The project management techniques related to the project planning phase include
- Describing project scope, alternatives, and feasibility. The understanding of the content and complexity of the project. Some relevant questions that should be answered include:
- What problem/opportunity does the project address?
- What results are to be achieved?
- What needs to be done?
- How will success be measured?
- How will we know when we are finished?
- Divide the project into tasks. This technique is also known as the work breakdown structure. This step is done to ensure an easy progression between tasks.
- Estimating resources and creating a resource plan. This helps to gather and arrange resources in the most effective manner.
- Developing a preliminary schedule. In this step, you are to assign time estimates to each activity in the work breakdown structure. From here, you will be able to create the target start and end dates for the project.
- Developing a communication plan. The idea here is to outline the communication procedures between management, team members, and the customer.
- Determining project standards and procedures. The specification of how various deliverables are produced and tested the project team.
- Identifying and assessing risk. The goal here is to identify potential sources of risk and the consequences of those risks.
- Creating a preliminary budget. The budget should summarize the planned expenses and revenues related to the project.
- Developing a statement of work. This document will list the work to be done and the expected outcome of the project.
- Setting a baseline project plan. This should provide an estimate of the project’s tasks and resource requirements.
- Executing the Project
The project management techniques related to the project execution phase include
- Executing the baseline project plan. The job of the project manager is to initiate the execution of project activities, acquire and assign resources, orient and train new team members, keep the project on schedule, and assure the quality of project deliverables.
- Monitoring project progress against the baseline project plan. Using Gantt and PERT charts, which will be discussed in detail further on in this paper, can assist the project manager in doing this.
- Managing changes to the baseline project plan.
- Maintaining the project workbook. Maintaining complete records of all project events is necessary. The project workbook is the primary source of information for producing all project reports.
- Communicating the project status. This means that the entire project plan should be shard with the entire project team and any revisions to the plan should be communicated to all interested parties so that everyone understands how the plan is evolving.
- Closing Down the Project
The project management techniques related to the project closedown phase include:
- Closing down the project. In this stage, it is important to notify all interested parties of the completion of the project. Also, all project documentation and records should be finalized so that the final review of the project can be conducted.
- Conducting post project reviews. This is done to determine the strengths and weaknesses of project deliverables, the processes used to create them, and the project management process.
- Closing the customer contract. The final activity is to ensure that all contractual terms of the project have been met.
Project planning is a discipline addressing how to complete a project in a certain timeframe, usually with defined stages and designated resources. One view of project planning divides the activity into these steps:
- setting measurable objectives
- identifying deliverables
- planning tasks
Importance of project planning.
- facilitate communication and provide a central source of information for project personnel;
- help the project sponsor and other key stakeholders know what is required;
- identify who will perform certain tasks, and when and how those tasks will happen;
- facilitate project management and control as the project progresses;
- enable effective monitoring and control of a project;
- manage project risk
- generate feedback useful for the next project planning phase.
Components of a project plan.
The three major parts of a project plan are the scope, budget and timeline. They involve the following aspects:
- Scope. The scope determines what a project team will and will not do. It takes the team’s vision, what stakeholders want and the customer’s requirements and then determines what’s possible. As part of defining the project scope, the project manager must set performance goals.
- Budget. Project managers look at what manpower and other resources will be required to meet the project goals to estimate the project’s cost.
- Timeline. This reveals the length of time expected to complete each phase of the project and includes a schedule of milestones that will be met.
Project management skills.
- Decision making
- Problem solving
- Time management
- Team Building
Steps in project Planning.
Project planning includes the following 10 steps:
- Define stakeholders. Stakeholders include anyone with an interest in the project. They can include the customer or end user, members of the project team, other people in the organization the project will affect and outside organizations or individuals with an interest.
- Define roles. Each stakeholder’s role should be clearly defined. Some people will fill multiple roles, however.
- Introduce stakeholders. Hold a meeting to bring stakeholders together and unify the vision behind the project. The topics covered should include scope, goals, budget, schedule and roles.
- Set goals. Take what is gleaned from the meeting and refine it into a project plan. It should include goals and deliverables that define what the product or service will result in.
- Prioritize tasks. List tasks necessary to meet goals and prioritize them based on importance and interdependencies. A Gantt chart can be helpful for mapping project dependencies.
- Create a schedule. Establish a timeline that considers the resources needed for all the tasks.
- Assess risks. Identify project risks and develop strategies for mitigating them.
- Communicate. Share the plan with all stakeholders and provide communications updates in the format and frequency stakeholders expect.
- Reassess. As milestones are met, revisit the project plan and revise any areas that are not meeting expectations.
- Final evaluation. Once the project is completed, performance should be evaluated to learn from the experience and identify areas to improve.