The Basics of Project Management
What is Project Management
Project management is the job of organizing, coordinating and managing various tasks and resources in order to successfully complete a project. A project by definition lasts for a specific period of time and then ends. It is not something that goes on and on indefinitely. Projects are generally made up of various distinct components or mini-tasks that are completed separately and ultimately integrated or merged together to make up the completed project. Although we often see a project as taking place within a single company, in many cases a project spans a network of organizations.
In such projects, there are many roles to be played out by many people with differing levels of stake in the project. Projects like this require the skills of a truly competent project manager. Project management is needed and is used on all types of projects both large and small. Although large, complex projects naturally pose more of a challenge. Regardless of industry, all projects have constraints or agreed guidelines that control the direction of the project and how and when things are done. These constraints serve to establish the controlling factors of the work and to give everyone involved an understanding of what the client requires, how things are required and with what, if any, limitations. As a project manager you should have a profound knowledge about risk management models. Project management is very much about defining the various components of a project, equipping those that have the task of completing those components and ensuring that work is completed within a set period of time, within a set budget, bearing in mind the bigger picture; the project as a whole, and in understanding the relevance of each component and how it contributes to the final deliverable. Project management training and certification will increase the opportunities that open up to you in this field as well as help you to familiarize with this field and industry standards.
Project Management and the Triple Constraints
Every project has constraints, or limitations. In project management, the Triple Constraint is the combination of time, budget and scope. These are the three things that control how a project is carried out. Although we tend to view projects as being budget-driven, there are other things that work in tandem with the budget, namely time and scope. For example a project with a small budget will buy less time, meaning less work can be accomplished. A project with a higher budget can allow for more time to be spent on the work and thus increase the potential scope of a project. If the major constraint of a project is time, a client could ask for work to be completed in less time thus affecting both the budget and/or the scope. More human resources would need to be assigned to the project in order to finish it faster, or the scope of work would need to be reduced to accomplish the shorter deadline. Whether or not a project is considered a success or failure is judged on a combination of these three constraints. A project that fulfills the scope and budget but that is delivered way past the deadline is not considered successful. The same is true for a project that is finished on time and within budget but that does not meet the scope. Not meeting the constraints of a project, regardless as to whether it is the budget, time or scope, can lead to client dissatisfaction. Not completing the project within the defined constraints in many ways constitutes failure.
When is Project Management Used?
Project management can happen on all types of projects and services whether they be computer software projects, electronics, buildings, vehicles, etc. Generally project management is used on large projects that involve various tasks and various people to perform those tasks. Project management charts are a good support in order to stay on top of things. In most instances, it is the Project Manager that carries out the task of project management. Project management is also used extensively on government projects and lots of documentation on project management methodology and the workflow process are available as guideline for those that plan on working with government agencies. Understanding these standards can only help you in your work as project manager.
What is a Project Manager?
A project manager is the person that organizes and coordinates a project as a whole as well as the person that overseas the development of the smaller tasks that a project gets broken down into. Basically, a project manager has to have the ability to see the project from two different view points: as one large project with a start and end date and as a series of small tasks each with their own start and end date. The project manager has the further task of planning and ensuring that the right resources are assigned to all of the work that needs to be done, whether they be funds, workers, tools and equipment, etc. Finding staff for projects is very much a part of the Project Manager’s job as well as estimating what staff are needed. Besides this he has to ensure that the staff is motivated. As you can see, the project manager is, and has to be, knowledgeable on every aspect of a project. Now, although the project manager hardly ever gets involved in actually doing any project tasks, they do have to have a thorough understanding of the client, the requirements and the scope of work as well as other the project constraints. They need to know everything, down to the finest detail, that is needed to make a project happen successfully. If they do manage to handle the combination of these things, the project will be well on its way towards being a success.
No doubt, we have probably used words in this article that you are not familiar with. If you plan on entering the field of Project Management, you will need to familiarize yourself with common Project Manaegment Terms. There are all types of quality project management resources online.