Project management as a field has become more important than ever
Project management as a field has become more important than ever, due to the infamous CHAOS report showing that a great number of projects are not successful, with less than 1/4th meeting their goals and many more IT projects simply folding before ever approaching their goals. As such, one of the most desired qualities and skills needed for modern businesses is proper Project Management. By managing a project well, the constraints of a project can be met well and even perform beneath budgeted time and cost! A well-managed project is also capable of motivating those working on it.
A Project is defined as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique result. An information technology project specifically involves any mix of resources from the firm, including software or hardware as well as the firm’s networks. Projects are always unique, temporary, and developed in increments – which means they are step by step- and require resources, a sponsor, and always involve uncertainty. The triple constraint that apply to a project and are pertinent to project management refers to managing the scope, time, and cost of a project. Project management itself is using knowledge, skills and a variety of tools to adjust how a project is approached and accomplished to meet the project’s set requirements. The Stakeholders of a project are the people who are connected to a project -either directly involved or indirectly affected by the project. The framework for project management techniques includes the stakeholders, the areas of knowledge for project management, as well as the tools and techniques for intelligent project management.
The nine knowledge areas of project management are integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resource, communications, risk, and procurement management. Each one has a multitude of possible tools and options to address. There are an equally vast number of criteria for what constitutes a successful project and what is needed of the project, which a project manager must keep aware of. Projects do not exist in a vacuum, however. They exist to benefit a business overall, and if many projects are orchestrated in a controlled way then the synthesis between them can provide benefits greater than the sum of this effort’s parts. This group of coordinated and related projects is called a Program, and by arranging projects into Programs extra benefits that wouldn’t be found otherwise can be reaped for a firm.
Project portfolio management involves organizing and managing projects and programs as a portfolio of investments meant to contribute to a firm/business’ entire strategy and plans. Portfolio management is focused on meeting strategic goals (goals which advance the state of the firm and ensures it grows and prospers) while project management focuses on tactical goals(goals which advance the state of an individual project as well as ensure it progresses smoothly.) Executive support is considered crucial to the success of a project, as are other factors like the involvement of the users for the system, experienced project management, and clear objectives. Project managers play a vital role in helping projects succeed, and without successful projects an organization is likely to flounder. A project manager must be able to wear many hats, as they are expected to perform a variety of duties and continue to sharpen their skills as both employees – the act of doing “actual” work as some would put it – as well as “soft’ skills that make them better managers both in general and specifically for projects.
Soft skills are important for project managers as the environment of the modern marketplace encourages businesses to pay closer attention to the wellbeing and motivation of their skilled labor. The profession of project management continues to grow and mature, growing from the development of many tools developed by the military such as the Gantt Chart into everyday operations at every level of society. The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a global society of professionals that provides Project Management Professional (PMP) certificates and upholds a code of ethics. Because of the development and integration of project management tools and techniques across all stratums of society, a market has developed with a variety of applications to provide technological solutions for project management, ranging from low end, midrange, to high end. Low end is cheaper than the others and used mostly for individuals and their place in larger projects. Midrange is able to do project management and even some program management. High end is the most expensive but can provide solutions for entire enterprises.
Again, Projects do not exist in a vacuum – they are in a greater context. Many project managers need to take a broader, systems-based approach when working on their projects as they may not realize their projects have issues in how they appear to the other stakeholders in the organization. Organizations often have four different frames: structural, human resources, political, and symbolic. Project managers need to understand how all of these aspects come into play with the business and their projects to have the greatest chance of success. The structural frame focuses on different roles and responsibilities in a group to meet goals. The human resources frame focuses on producing harmony between the needs of the organization and the needs of people. The political frame addresses organizational and personal politics. The symbolic frame focuses on symbols and meanings of the actions an organization takes, or what it doesn’t do. The structure of an organization is a pertinent piece of information for project managers, especially in terms of the amount of authority the project manager has. The three basic organizational structures include functional, matrix, and project. Project managers have the most authority in a pure project organization, an intermediate amount of authority in a matrix organization, and the least amount of authority in a pure functional organization. Organizational culture as well as the structure of an organization affects project management.
A culture where employees identify strongly with their organization, where groups are an important part of work activities, where unit integration is strong, where there is a greater tolerance for risk, where performance is rewarded fairly, conflict is channeled and tolerated well, with an open-systems focus, and a balance on the factors of their focus on the people involved in the project as well as the organization’s control over day-to-day activities and their emphasis on results-vs.-process is the most conducive to project work. Project stakeholders must be emphasized in this analysis of important factors in a project’s success – they are the individuals and organizations who are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be influenced due to a successful project. Project managers must identify and understand the different needs of all stakeholders on their projects. The guidance of the top management of an organization and its commitment to a project is crucial for the success of a project success. Since projects are often cross-departmental and have effects in many areas of an organization, top management must assist project managers in integrating the project and its efforts with the greater context of the organization.
Organizational commitment to information technology is quite understandably important to the success of information technology projects, as the development standards and guidelines of an organization are an asset for such projects.
The life cycle of a project is important to understand to make more educated guesses on how to adjust a project. A project life cycle is a collection of phases. Traditional project phases include concept, development, implementation, and close-out phases. Projects often produce products, which follow product life cycles. Examples of product life cycles for software development are the waterfall, spiral, incremental, prototyping, RAD, and the adaptive software development models. A project should successfully pass through each project phase in sequence, in order to ensure that each step is followed properly. A management review should occur at the end of each project phase, and more frequent management inputs are healthy for a project. Management reviews and inputs are an important part of keeping projects within their boundaries and determining if projects should be continued, redirected, or terminated at the proper kill point. The diverse nature of projects that an organization may need to address and the wide range of business categories and technologies involved make information technology projects especially challenging to manage, as project managers must juggle a number of factors often from different disciplines. Knowing how to handle project team members with a wide variety of specialized skills and rapidly changing technologies is an important part of this. Other factors involved are stemmed from growing trends in the marketplace, chiefly increased globalization, outsourcing, and virtual teams. Each has changed the way many IT projects are performed and managed. Globalization is the generalized concept of a business being able to operate globally, using communications technology to effectively operate on a global market. Outsourcing is when an organization acquires goods and/or sources from an outside source. Virtual teams are groups of individuals who work across the world using information and communications technology.
Project management involves interlinked processes. The five project management process groups are initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. These processes occur at varying levels of presence in each project, and specific products are produced as a result of each process. Normally the executing processes require the most resources to complete, followed by the planning processes. Mapping the main activities of each project management process group into the nine project management knowledge areas provides a big picture of what activities are involved in project management. It is important to tailor project management methodologies to meet the organization s needs. Popular methodologies like PRINCE2, agile methodologies, RUP, and Six Sigma include project management processes within them.