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Essay: Project management definition and stages

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  • Project management definition and stages
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1. What is the Project Management?

A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a particular goals / objectives. Hence project management can be defined as the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives.

Figure 1.1 Project management

 

Source: project-management.com

1.1 Impotence of the Project Management.

Investing in an effective project management will have a number of benefits to both the host organisation and the people involved in delivering the project. It will:

 Provide a greater likelihood of achieving the desired result;

 Ensure efficient and best value use of resources;

 Satisfy the differing needs of the project’s stakeholders.

Further it wills also benefits in –

 Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness in delivering services while enhancing the quality of the outcome

 Improved customer satisfaction

 Improved development and growth within the project team

 Enhance your position in the market and gain market share

 Reduce the risk exposure

 Increase the productivity

2. Stages Associated with Project Management

There are 5 main stages of any project which can further vary depending of the nature of the project.

Figure 2.1 Stages of the Project management

Source: project-management.com

 Project Initiation – At this stage is the point where the project sponsors and other stakeholders will perform their due diligences and analyse whether or not to undertake the project and also accordingly the project is formally started, named and defined at initial level during this phase. Depending on the nature of the project, ongoing feasibility studies are conducted as it may require.

 Project Planning – During this phase a project management plan is developed all-inclusive of other sub individual plans for – cost, scope, time, quality, risk and resources. Preparing WBS, development of the schedule, network diagrams, milestone and GANTT charts, estimating and reserving resources, finalising dates and the modes of communication with the stakeholders based on deadlines and cut off dates and other deliveries are some of the important activities that mark at this phase.

 Project Execution –Project deliverable is developed and completed during this stage according to the procedures which were developed in the previous phases. Project execution and project monitoring and Control are the two phases that mostly take place concurrently. A lot of project management errands during this phase capture project metrics through tasks like status meetings and project development updates, status reports, human resource development and performance analysis.

 Project Monitoring and Control – During this phase analysing and measuring of the project performances and evaluate the progression according to the project management plan are been taken place. Scope verification and control to check and monitor for scope creep, change control to track and manage changes to project requirement, calculating key performance indicators for cost and time are to measure the degree of variation if any and in which case corrective measures are determined and suggested to keep project on track.

 Project Closure – The formal project closure is been completed during this phase. This comprises of a series of important tasks such as making the delivery, relieving resources, reward and recognition to the team members and formal termination of contractors in case they were employed on the project.

2.1 Core component of the project managements

 To emphasis the definition of the reason why a project is necessary;

 To capture project requirements, specify the quality of the deliverables, estimate the resources and timelines;

 For the preparation of the business case to justify the investment;

 Securing corporate agreement and return of investment along with fund management.

 In order to develop and implement a management plan for the project;

 To increase the effective management and accuracy in leading the project delivery team;

 To mitigate the risks, issues and unfavourable changes on the project;

 Monitoring progress against plan;

 For the effective management of the project budget;

 For maintaining efficient communications with stakeholders and the project organisation;

 Closing the project in a successful and controlled methodology when appropriate.

3 The Project Scope Management

3.1 What is Scope?

Detailed set of deliverables / Objectives or features of a project is referred as the Scope. These objectives are been derived from the project’s requirements. The main goal of the scope is the decision of what work to be completed during the project lifecycle. There are three processes under project scope management. The first one, planning process is to finalise the project outcome and timelines to capture and define the work that needs to be completed. The second one, controlling and monitoring processes are assigned to documenting tracking, scope creep, tracking, and disapproving/ approving project changes. The final process, closing phase includes an audit of the project objectives and deliverables and assesses the outcomes against the initial project plan. The scope of a project is the clear identification of the work that is required to successfully complete or deliver a project.  One of the responsibilities of a project manager is to ensure that only the required work (the scope) will be performed and that each of the deliverables can be completed in the agreed timeframe and within budget.

3.2 The necessity of project scope management

 Defining the needs of the project in order to establishment of a project timeline, allocation project resources and setting project goals

 To define and understand the project objectives.

 To avoid the challenges that a project might face with every growing scope.

 To establish control processes to address factors that may result in project changes during the project life-cycle.

 To estimate the cost or time that the project and to avoid any losses.

Figure 3.1 the Project Scope Management Processes

Source: www.simplilearn.com

4 Project Management Framework

The project management framework can be defined as the combination of processes, tasks, and tools used by individuals working on a project to transition a project from start to finish or a collection of structural elements or units that create a theoretical foundation for the project management process. An overview of a generic process used by this framework is:

  • Initiation is when the project starts

  • Planning is when all of the key decisions are made

  • Execution is when project work actually takes place

  • Control is when adjustments are made to the plan

  • Monitor is when project progress is checked

  • Terminate is when the project comes to an end

    4.1 The purpose of the PM framework –

     Simplify and assist with sharing information on project management best practices, approaches, tools, templates and samples.

     Create and share an understanding of the best practices for planning & management for all types and kinds of project, including IT projects, construction projects, etc.

     Improve the level of competence

     Contribute to setting common standards and requirements for various projects and establishing common terminology.

    5 Project Management software

    Project Management software can dramatically improve the productivity of any project whether large or small. There are a variety of Project Management software options available for use; all of which offer the features as:

  • Scheduling – Allocation of work against Time considering resources

  • Resource assignments (man-machine-material)

  • Cost control and budget management – (man-machine-material)

  • Quality management – meeting the requirement of project

  • Tracking progress – monitoring ‘Scope-Time-Cost’ baseline

  • Report generation – Timely generation of reports for the project stakeholders

    There are various Project Management software available in the market which can be used to simplify the project management process such as –

      – An online project time tracking software which helps to increase the time management of the project and increase the team performances as this will lead to provide a clear vision of timelines.

      – This is also user friendly online visual project management software which helps to increase the productivity. The project teams are able to measure and analyze bottlenecks in the system with the help of real-time updates and visual feedback as it contains strong analytical options with charts and graphs which makes it convenient to obtain a clear vision of the project status.

      – This is also one of the customizable and integrated project management platforms. This facilitate the PM teams for effective decision making by providing advance features to annotate the project status , financial feasibilities and resource management.

       Microsoft Project is also a commonly used project management software which will assist to develop the project plan, assigning resources to each tasks, progress tracking and analysing and managing budgets.

    6. Project Finance Management

    Financial resources are one of the most crucial resources in any project as the lack of sound financial management can lead to the unsuccessful project closures, failures and terminations. As financial resources are one of the main resources which can make a vast impact on the total project the financial management aspects relating to project management are indeed critical to the success of any project. Financial management can be defined as the process of estimating and justifying costs in order to secure funds, controlling expenditures and evaluating the outcome.  Project finance management uses a combination of both financial and management accounting tools to integrate the project accounting for other project considerations. This is an ongoing process of planning, organising and controlling project financial activities such as funds utilization, return on investment, procurement management in order to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of fund management. Some of the well-recognised project financial management indicators are NPV and Cost Benefit Analysis.

    6.1 Cost Benefit Analysis

    In 1840, Jules Dupit, French engineer and an economist has introduced the concept of CBA and it was well accepted in 1950’s as a simplified tool to weighting up project costs and benefits in order to determine whether or not to go ahead with the selected project. As per the name indicate this analytical method involves in adding up the benefits of a course of an action and comparing it with the cost associated with it.

    6.2 NPV – Net Present Value

    Net present value indicates the present value of the cash flow at the required rate of return of the project associated to the initial investment value or it can be specified as the present value of the future cash flow from an investment. The following formula is used to calculate the NPV-

    A negative NPV value indicates that the project will not be a successful in terms of return on capital investments and that project should not proceed further as the future business will be a waste of money. If it is a positive number that means the project should be accepted.

    7. Project Time Management

    As time is one of the most scares resource in completing any project the importance of having a proper time management process and a methodology is to be considered as extremely high. The project time management methodologies will describe the process to monitor and manage the total time spent on the project and to complete the allocated tasks within the given time frame. A proper time management process will be leads to –

     Proper allocation of timelines for each tasks.

     Proper allocation of resources and monitoring

     Keeping the project plan up to date all the time.

     Maintaining proper records of the timelines within the project.

     Successfully completing the project on the target completion date.

    Gantt chart –

    Different project managers use several time management tools and techniques, one of the most commonly used time management tool is the Gantt chart. This is a simple bar chart to illustrate the project schedule and this concept has been adapted by Karol Adamiecki in 1896 and independently by Henry Gantt in the 1910s. This chart summarise the activities between the start dates to the completion associating the work breakdown structure. The negativity of this tool is that it does not indicate the task dependencies, it will not replicate how one task failure will create an impact on other tasks and the overall project as a whole.

    8. Project Quality Management

    A quality of a project can be defined as fulfilling the customer’s final expectation or successfully delivering the project objectives within the agreed timeline. To ensure this final outcome each and every aspect of the project to be completed adhering to certain quality standards to ensure that they are no last minute changes or failures. Hence each and every task and step of the project to be validated and verified through a valid quality assurance process prior to presenting it to the relevant stakeholders. In order to have a proper mechanism of maintaining this quality assurance checks and its standards the ‘the project quality plan’ will be created which includes in-depth collation of expected standards of each and every aspect of the project from the initial date until to the execution. In order to assure the accuracy of the project quality plan quality audits to be taken place as and when required by both external and internal teams for quality assurance and quality control perspectives. Proper maintenance of the project quality plan will leads to customer satisfaction, prevention over inspection and continues improvement.

    Figure 8.1 – Project Quality Management

    Source:  www.space4ict.com

    9. Project Planning

    Project planning is the scheduling of the project overview indicating how to complete the project within the agreed timelines and the resource allocations and processes for each and every stage of the project. The main activities described in the project plan are –

     Setting the Project Objectives

     Identifying deliverable

     Planning the schedule

     Making supporting plans

     Creating controls and measurements

    For the above activities it is necessary to gain an in-depth understanding of the customer’s expectation, stakeholder reviews, identification and setting up measurable goals and setting up timelines. For this as a supporting tool a project management software can be used to simplify the scheduling and also creating the supporting plans for the main outcome such as HR plan, Communication plan, Risk Management Plan, Financial management Plan, etc. depending on the requirement of the project. The project plan will be the main source of agreement between the customer, project team, project manager and other stakeholders involved in the project as this will contain all the possible parameters that will create an impact on the project until the execution.

    10. Project Technology Management

    Project technology management is a core function in the project management process as any project is to be supported by a project management software and it also the process of integrated planning, discovering, identifying, optimising, development and control of technology for the project in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness.

    11. Project Human Resource Management

    Project HR management is the process of managing the stakeholders of the project in the most effective manner. This may include all the relevant parties for the project including the customer, sponsors, project team, direct and indirect workforce, etc. This can be accommodated both manually and through project management software. The project manager can involve directly for the manual allocation and delegation of human resources for certain tasks or else the PM software will manage the logistic aspects of the project providing a dash board for the project team to have a glance view of the resource allocation and the progression. The project HR management contains main processes such as organizational planning to identify the project roles and responsibilities. Staff acquisition for sourcing the right talent for each and every identified job role. Team development to enhance the effectiveness of the team in order to maximise the project performance.

    12. Project Communication Management

    Maintaining a proper communication management is an extremely important task to have a consistently successful performance of the project. A successful project plan should consist with a proper contingency approach to create a proper communication management. A project team and the stakeholders will usually be a diverse group of people who are driven to achieve the project deliverables and objectives. Based on the nature of the each project the diversity within a project team can be cultural, geographical, organisational, functional, age related, level of education etc. Communication within such a diverse groups is a challenge at the best of times and since communication and leadership has a hands on relationship, the project communication management is a vast area of delivering what exactly expected from each stakeholder and understanding the issues arises within the team and understanding what the customers’ expectations are and being in touch and getting updated of the challenges arises during the project. Communication is the combination of hearing, listening and also understanding the complete message. As a norm in the project management, the communication management should address the following questions to implement a proper communication regarding the total project scope.

     What information needs to flow in and out of the project?

     Who needs what information?

     When is the information needed?

     What is the format of the information?

     Who will be responsible for transmitting and providing the information?

    13. Project Risk Management

    Risk is an inevitable aspect when taking over a project. As defined by the Project Management Institute ‘Project risk is an uncertain event of condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on the project’s objectives’. Accordingly the project risk can be divided in to two categories as Negative Impact risk & Positive Impact Risk. Once the risk has been identified the project managers have to create a mitigation plan or a solution to face the risk by counter attacking it. Project risk management consist of four main steps which the organizations can use to manage the risk effectively.

     Risk Identification

     Risk Qualification

     Risk Response

     Risk Monitoring & Control

    14. Project Procurement Management

    Procurement management involves in the process of getting the work done by the people outside of the project team. Due to the product or service specialty certain tasks or purchases to be done involving the different other organization in order to increase the efficiency and time management. The procurement management will lead this process to ensure the smooth run of project. This also an essential ares of the PM as this is an ongoing process of coordinating with the external suppliers and performing checks to ensure that the outsourced services and good and within the agreed terms and conditions. The key to have a successful procurement management is to assign a highly trained individuals to handle the process while ensuring the quality of the service and the reliability of these suppliers.

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