What is a Project?
Project is a combination of tasks performed in series and/or parallel to get a specific result in the form of product, services, deliverable or even a transition.
- Building high tower building like Burj Al-Kalifa or a website is the best example of a product-oriented project. You will have a tangible product at the end of the project as a result.
- Establishing a call center is an example of a service-oriented project. In the end, the project will provide customer care services to consumers.
- Research is a result-oriented project for example scientist working on the effect of ice-cold shower daily to the skin of the human body
It is always a temporary endeavor. All the tasks performed are only for that particular result.
Every project is unique and has a definite start and end date clearly understandable and articulated– But start and end date can vary as project progresses but is a definite start/end in any case. A project needs a specific schedule and cost for example to manufacture an iPhone you can have six months and a budget of 20 million dollars.
The project is something that is progressively elaborated. It means a project is developing by steps and continuing by increments. For example, you want to build a house, this is an idea to go with, next you decide how many rooms you need, then you give information to the interior designer and so on. This is called a progressive elaboration.
Difference between Project & Operation
Most of the people get confused between operation and project. Here is the major difference between these
Project is always a Temporary endeavor that has a definite start and ends whereas operation is ongoing.
Project is always a Unique whereas operation is Repetitive
Once the objectives are met the project is closed whereas operation objective is to sustain a business.
Let say you got the idea to manufacture a mobile phone. You get a good team, investment and make a proto-type mobile. This is a project and is a unique product. But then you won’t run a business of mobiles and set-up a factory. Here, your objective is to sustain business and you start building mobile continuously that is not a unique product anymore and hence this is not a project anymore but an operation.
Constraints of a Project
A company that is interested to achieve a project goal have to deal with some constraint to get it. These constraints are called Triple Constraints. Triple Constraints are consisting of scope, time and cost. Triple constraints are further supported by quality.
Also, there are other constraints to achieve the project like human resources that you must have the right team. Then there should be proper communications in the team that is also a constraint. Dealing with the risk that can affect negative or positive to the project. Supplier is another big challenge to get your procurements on time. Stakeholders are another form of constraints.
This Human Resource, Communication, Risk, Supplier, and Stakeholders are called the five pillars of Project Management.
The job of a Project Manager is to integrate all these factors.
Who manages the project & what skills are required?
PM does this stuff he has a number of high-quality skills but not limited to
Leadership, communication, Information Technology, Accounting, Purchasing Problem Solving. He is the one who has the project management knowledge, his the ability to get work done by the team as you know a lot of people find it difficult to get the job done by the team. His/her job is to inspire, lead, motivate, assist, help, coaching, mentoring, guiding, and so on so far.
The project manager should be competent enough to utilize resources to get maximum productivity to get the job done in an efficient way timely.
Phases of Project Management
Any project goes through following phase one or a number of times
- Monitoring & Controlling
Collection of these phases is called project life cycle.
What is Project Management?
A clear definition of project management as per Project Management Institute – PMI is;
Project Management is the application of knowledge, skill, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.
Let’s discuss these terms in a bit detail the Knowledge is something that comes through experience and education in a specific field. Skills come through training, practice and of course talent. Tools are something we use to carry out project tasks, it could be tangible like Microsoft Excel or any device. The technique is a way of carrying out a particular task like methodologies, frameworks or processes.
Why Project Management
Below statistics will help to clear this query
- Only one out of 4 project ¼ that enter into development make it the market
- 31% of IT projects are canceled before completion
- Only 42% of original features & functions are available in the end product.
Project Life Cycle & Project Management Life Cycle
Project Life Cycle
The project life cycle consists of following phases or stages – phase and stage are just synonyms in project management terminology.
- The Idea/concept/need
- Feasibility Study
- Project Charter
- Implementation/ Development
First of all, we have the idea to be implemented, then we go for a feasibility study that is very important and minds you most of the project cannot pass through this phase.
Once a project got a green signal after feasibility study then Project charter is issued where Project Management cycle starts and leads to the finalization of the project.
Here, if you see, the project management cycle is the same for all the project.
Project Management Life Cycle
Project management life cycle has four stages mainly that can be further divided into many sections. These are
- Execution/Monitor and Control
To understand this let draw a schema
Here we develop a business case, identify the scope and also identify project stakeholders. This stage has already been started during the project concept and feasibility.
The project charter is released in this stage of the project management life cycle.
Once the project manager got the project charted and now being a project manager, he is accountable for the success and failure of the project. The project charter is basically an authority to a project manager to utilize project resources efficiently to get the optimum result in budget and on time with the best quality but not gold plating stuff.
Here project manager creates the workflow, gather resources, estimates budget – a collection of all these is called project plan.
A project plan should have the answer to these questions – 4W’s
- Why?– What is the project main objective to stick on?
- What?– What is the scope? to avoid scope creep and gold plating.
- Who?– A clear definition of the project team and other resources
- When?– A comprehensive overview of the start and end of every project milestone logically.
Execution/Monitor and Control
This is the phase where the project team becomes in action. Here, the development and actual implementation of the project idea is done.
The project manager has to juggle resources skillfully and the real test of his abilities in this phase.
Project is delivered to the client and before announcing the closure all the lesson learned are compiled. Lesson learned are collected throughout the project life cycle although.
Once the client/owner/customer formally accepts the project then it is marked as complete.
Why and How to Use Project Management Methodology
Understanding project management methodology is the key to run a successful project. This helps with the evaluation and proper planning of the project.
There are a number of Project management methodologies, but we will discuss here the most common one being used nowadays
- Traditional Project Management
- PMI – Project Management Institute
- PRINCE2 | Projects IN Controlled Environments
- Stage-Gate: This methodology is used for new product development or innovation. Here we have a series of gates and stages.
- Agile | Not a Methodology
Traditional Project Management
Traditional Project Management the project is divided into the manageable phase in order to improve control, performance and to determine the requirements of characteristics of each phase.
Traditional Project Management phases include Initiation, Planning & Design, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing.
It is a general model to be used on any project, you can say.
PMI – Project Management Institute
PMI was established in 1969 and it gives a generic methodology that is applicable to all types of projects. PMI publishes PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) that is revised after a specific period of times whenever required. PMBOK contains PMI project management principle.
This project management methodology uses phases like initiation, planning, monitoring, and controlling and closure phase. Each phase contains a different process that is inter-related.
This methodology is covered construction type and information technology projects quite efficiently.
PMI offers different certifications and the most salient one in PMP – Project Management Professional and is for Project Managers and widely accepted around the globe. PMI is a USA based non-profit organization- they claim.
PRINCE2 | Projects in Controlled Environments
Prince2 is a widely used project management methodology and accepted all over. Projects are done in controlled environments.
It requires specific training in order to implement this methodology. This is a major drawback of it
The PRINCE2, or ‘Projects IN Controlled Environments’ is one of the processes based project management methodology. It offers a very systematic approach to delivering a successful project with clear templates, processes, and steps.
The PRINCE2 Salient Features:
- It is a globally recognized approach in project management.
- This approach can be implemented in any type of project.
- Every individual in the team always has an updated list of his/her to do a task.
- Its project and as well as process focused project management methodology.
- It divided the project master plan into different child plans like stage plan, team plans, etc. and thus eliminate cons=fusions or any ambiguity in the stakeholders.
Prince2 certification is well recognized around the globe and is started and sponsored at government level in the United Kingdom in mid-nineties.
Stage-Gate | Product Innovation Process
This methodology is used for new product development or innovation driven projects. Here we have a series of gates and stages.
Different stages require different work to be done. To proceed next stage the project must go through a gate. In each gate, the project management team decides either to continue the projector to kill the project or even to go back and get everything fixes and starts over.
Stage and gates consist of
- Gate-1: Idea Screening | Stage-1: Scoping
- Gate-2: Second Screen | Stage-2: Build Business Case
- Gate-3: Go for Development | Stage-3: Development
- Gate-4: Go for Testing | Stage-4: Testing and Validation
- Gate-5: Go for Launch | Stage-5: Launch the Product
Agile is best for adaptive kind of projects. Agile means “fast change”. It is the best for technology-driven, interactive and software related projects.
In Agile an incremental chunk that adds value to project is delivered to the client for approval. Normally it is done electronically so it is the best suit for software development related project.
Agile is not a methodology or framework but is a set of different values and principles.
Agile principles are being used at different frameworks or methodologies as a hybrid approach like Kanban, Xtreme Programming-XP, 6-Sigma, and other lean project management techniques.
Factor to consider while choosing a project methodology?
Type of Project
A project related to innovation is best suites for Stage-gate, capital construction is either go for PMI approach, PRINCE2 or traditional approach keeping in view the complexity of the project. Try to keep things simple as much as possible when making the selecting a methodology.
If the project is to produce a new innovative product then Stage-gate is the best as at any time you can kill the project.
Type of Culture
You need to understand what type of organization culture and which methodology or approach is going to help. Like if you have a non-collaborative culture then you cannot go with an Agile approach. On the other hands, a capital construction project is not well suited for Agile.
If your team is competent then Agile is the best to approach. Agile uses the team most effective than any other methodology or approach. If you are around the UK and affiliated countries where it required PRINCE2 is the solution. But mostly USA affiliated one use PMI approach. Hence your project team must be well versed about the guideline.
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