Project Management

Definition of Project Management

Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. It is an organized manner of managing a project from its beginning to a defined ending.

Project Management is a critical part of IT Governance

History of Project Management[1]

Until 1900, civil engineering projects were generally managed by creative architects, engineers, and master builders themselves, for example, Vitruvius (first century BC), Christopher Wren (1632–1723), Thomas Telford (1757–1834) and Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–1859). In the 1950s, organizations systematically applied project-management tools and techniques to complex engineering projects.

Henry Gantt (1861–1919) was the father of planning and control techniques. As a discipline, project management developed from several fields of application, including civil construction, engineering, and heavy defense activity. Two forefathers of project management are Henry Gantt, called the father of planning and control techniques, who is famous for his use of the Gantt chart as a project management tool (alternatively Harmonogram first proposed by Karol Adamiecki), and Henri Fayol, for his creation of the five management functions that form the foundation of the body of knowledge associated with the project and program management. Gantt and Fayol were students of Frederick Winslow Taylor's theories of scientific management. His work is the forerunner to modern project management tools, including work breakdown structure (WBS) and resource allocation.

The 1950s marked the beginning of the modern project management era, where core engineering fields come together to work as one. Project management became recognized as a distinct discipline from the engineering model's management discipline. Before the 1950s, projects were managed on an ad-hoc basis in the United States, using mostly Gantt charts and informal techniques and tools. At that time, two mathematical project-scheduling models were developed. The "critical path method" (CPM) was developed as a joint venture between DuPont Corporation and Remington Rand Corporation for managing plant maintenance projects. The U.S. Navy Special Projects Office, the Lockheed Corporation, and Booz Allen Hamilton, as part of the Polaris missile submarine program, developed the "program evaluation and review technique" (PERT).

PERT and CPM are very similar in their approach but still present some differences. CPM is used for projects that assume deterministic activity times; the times at which each activity will be carried out are known. PERT, however, allows for stochastic activity times; the times at which each activity will be carried out are uncertain or varied. Because of this core difference, CPM and PERT are used in different contexts. These mathematical techniques quickly spread into many private enterprises.

At the same time, as project-scheduling models were being developed, technology for project cost estimating, cost management, and engineering economics was evolving, with pioneering work by Hans Lang and others. In 1956, the American Association of Cost Engineers (now AACE International; the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering) was formed by early practitioners of project management and the associated specialties of planning and scheduling, cost estimating, and cost/schedule control (project control). AACE continued its pioneering work and, in 2006, released the first integrated process for portfolio, program, and project management (total cost management framework).

In 1969, the Project Management Institute (PMI) was formed in the USA. PMI publishes A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), which describes project management practices common to "most projects, most of the time." PMI also offers a range of certifications.

Project Management Phases[2]

The commonly accepted phases of project management are:

The Phases of Project Management
source: University of Washigton

  • Initiation: Initiation is the first phase of the project process. During initiation, you identify stakeholders, gather information (expectations, deliverables, etc.), define the project, define the project’s goals, and set up the specifications and parameters of the project.
  • Planning and Design: The second phase is planning. During this phase, you write out a baseline plan for your project. This plan includes schedules, resource lists, tasks and activities, team members, risk analyses, and reporting structures. The plan then needs to be evaluated and approved by project stakeholders (your client, employer, or even in some cases: the government).
  • Executing: Execution means the implementation of your project plan. The execution phase can take the longest of all the processes, depending on the project: it can be the building of the largest skyscraper in the world, or it can merely be a two-day conference that you are in charge of planning and managing. The performance of the project team is crucial during this part of the process.
  • Monitor and Control: Monitoring and controlling consist of keeping to your schedule, reporting to stakeholders and interested parties, watching the budget, and making sure that the execution of the project matches up to the initial plan. The project process also goes back and forth between planning, executing, and monitoring during this phase. Each time there is a discrepancy during the monitoring phase, the plan needs to be altered and re-implemented.
  • Closing: As the project nears completion, you must close out all contracts, meet the final project goals, and compile all the final reports and documentation. It is important to document everything before closing the project. Evaluating the project results, as well as your project team, is also important.

Every project must follow each of these steps logically. First, it is conducted at a project level and then repeated for each task or sub-task in more detail. Some view these phases as linear, but you may need to adjust to the original plan design as you initiate your project and move into the planning and monitoring phases.

Project Management Process[3]

In addition to the 5 phases above, the project management process includes several other areas of knowledge with which every project manager must be familiar. The PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge Fifth Edition) has 10 Knowledge Areas. Every manager should indeed have a basic understanding of these 10 topics. However, project managers must pay special attention when applying to a specific project that includes unique goals, adherence to a strict timeline, and subjection to a set amount of resources.

  • Integration – This knowledge area contains all 5 project stages. During integration, you will develop the plan, assess risks, and make necessary adjustments to ensure successful execution.
  • Scope – Scope outlines stakeholder expectations. Comprehending the desired outcome of your project is fundamental to your success as a project manager.
  • Time – They say timing is everything, and keeping your project on track is of utmost importance. Time management expertise will help you to designate activities and set appropriate project milestones to meet deadlines and successfully allocate resources.
  • Cost – Elements of cost management occur throughout the project. Properly estimating all areas of project cost and overseeing expenses during the project process will help you and your team to stay on budget.
  • Quality – Making sure your PSR (product/service/result) meets the client's expectations is your goal. Your project falls short if your deliverable is anything other than what the customer and/or stakeholders require.
  • Procurement – It may be that you’ll need services that contribute to your project outcome that are outside the expertise of your project team. You should know how to plan for this contingency, choose an external vendor, and create/close out a contract.
  • Human Resources – It may fall to you as the project manager to assemble your team from across your company’s human capital pool and possibly to bring in outside contractors. Regardless of your project size, you’ll need to know how to coordinate and lead your team effectively.
  • Communications – Communication isn’t only about the right information. You must also know how and when to provide information along the way. Learn how to craft an effective message, get that message out, and manage project knowledge.
  • Risk Management – Even the best-laid plans sometimes don’t come off without a hitch. Know how to identify and evaluate those things that can derail your project so that through ongoing response planning and monitoring, you can mitigate delays and resource over expenditure.
  • Stakeholder Management – Stakeholders include people or organizations involved with your project. You should know how to create engagement and management approaches to include your stakeholders in the project outcome.

The Elements of a Project[4]

A successful project manager must simultaneously manage four basic elements of a project. These elements are interrelated.

  • Scope: This involves the project's size, goals, and requirements. The project scope is the definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish and the budget of time and money created to achieve these objectives. Any change to the project's scope must have a matching change in budget, time, resources, or all three.
  • Resources: There are three aspects of understanding and managing resources: people, equipment, and material. A successful project manager must effectively manage the resources assigned to the project, including project team members, vendor staff, and subcontractors. He or she must ensure that his or her employees have the skills and tools they need to complete the job, and s/he must continually monitor whether s/he has enough people to complete the project on deadline. It is the Project Manager's job to ensure that each person understands the task and the project deadlines. In a matrix management situation like a project team, the project manager's job is to provide project direction to the line managers. Managing labor subcontracts usually means managing the team lead for the subcontracted workers who manage those workers. A project manager must often procure equipment and materials and manage their use so that the team can operate efficiently. He's responsible for having the appropriate equipment and materials in the correct location at the proper time.
  • Time: This doesn't just address how much time the project will take. The three elements of successful time management are tasks, schedules, and critical paths. Build the project schedule by listing, in order, all the tasks that must be completed. Some must be done sequentially, while others can overlap or be done in tandem. Assign a duration to each task. Allocate the required resources. Determine predecessors—what tasks must be completed before others—and successors, those that can't start until after each other task is completed. This aspect of project management is sometimes referred to as waterfall management because one task follows another in more or less sequential order. Project management software can simplify creating and managing the project schedule. Some tasks have a little flexibility in their required start and finish dates. This is called "float." Other tasks have no flexibility. They have zero floats. The critical path is called a line through all the tasks with zero float. All tasks on this path—and there can be multiple parallel paths—must be completed on time if the project is to come in by its deadline. The project manager's key time management task is monitoring the critical path.
  • Money: The three considerations in managing money are costs, contingencies, and profit. Each task has a cost, whether the computer programmer's labor hours or the purchase price of a cubic yard of concrete. Each of these costs is estimated and totaled when preparing the project budget. Some estimates will be more accurate than others. The project budget should, therefore, include a contingency allowance—money set aside in the budget "just in case" the actual cost of an item is wildly different from the estimate. Profit is the money the company wants to make from the task. It's put on top of the cost. So a project budget is composed of the estimated cost, plus the contingency, plus any profit. The project manager's job is to keep the actual cost at or below the estimated cost and to maximize the profit the company earns on the project.

Project Management Office[5]

The project management office (PMO) is a centralized department that manages projects. The PMO:

  • Central location and authority for providing policies, methodologies, and templates for managing projects within the organization
  • Trains individuals in project management within the organization
  • Assists them with project management tools
  • Provide project managers for different projects; these project managers and the PMO office are responsible for the results of those projects

The project management office is a department of many individuals. The PMO has responsibilities such as:

  • Manage needs and interconnectedness between projects
  • Provide resources
  • Participate in project review meetings
  • Monitor compliance with organizational processes
  • Provide templates
  • Provide centralized communication about projects
  • Be a part of the change control board
  • Help prioritize projects

See Also