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Project Management Explained

Project Management Explained

Table of Contents

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INTRODUCTION

Project management is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve all project goals within the given constraints. This information is usually described in project documentation and created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time, and budget. The secondary challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and apply them to meet pre-defined objectives.

The objective of project management is to produce a complete project which complies with the client’s objectives. In many cases, the objective of project management is also to shape or reform the client’s brief to feasibly address the client’s objectives. Once the client’s objectives are established, they should influence all decisions made by other people involved in the project – for example, project managers, designers, contractors, and subcontractors. Ill-defined or too tightly prescribed project management objectives are detrimental to decision-making.

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WHAT IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT?

Definition

Project management involves the planning and organization of a company’s resources to move a specific task, event, or duty toward completion. It can involve a one-time project or an ongoing activity, and resources managed include personnel, finances, technology, and intellectual property.

Project management is often associated with fields in engineering and construction and, more lately, healthcare and information technology (IT), which typically have a complex set of components that have to be completed and assembled in a set fashion to create a functioning product.

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PRINCIPLES OF ANY PROJECT MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE

Project management is an essential part of business operations, as it helps to organize and manage resources, time, and costs to complete projects.

Here are some key principles of project management that can help ensure successful project completion:

Goal-oriented planning:

It is important to have a clear understanding of the project goals and objectives before beginning any project. This ensures that all stakeholders agree and that everyone is working towards the same end goal.

Effective communication:

Good communication between all stakeholders is key to making sure everyone is on the same page. This includes regular check-ins and updates, as well as being available for questions and concerns.

Risk management:

Risk management is essential in project management, as it helps identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them.

Resource management:

It is important to track and manage resources effectively to make sure that resources can be allocated to the areas that need them the most.

Quality control:

Quality control is necessary to ensure that the project is meeting the desired standards. This includes setting standards, measuring performance, and making sure that the project is delivered on time.

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TYPES OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Many types of project management have been developed to meet the specific needs of certain industries or types of projects.

They include the following:

Waterfall Project Management

This is similar to traditional project management but includes the caveat that each task needs to be completed before the next one starts. Steps are linear and progress flows in one direction—like a waterfall. Because of this, attention to task sequences and timelines is very important in this type of project management. Often, the size of the team working on the project will grow as smaller tasks are completed and larger tasks begin.

Agile Project Management

The computer software industry was one of the first to use this methodology. With the basis originating in the 12 core principles of the Agile Manifesto, agile project management is an iterative process focused on the continuous monitoring and improvement of deliverables. At its core, high-quality deliverables are a result of providing customer value, team interactions, and adapting to current business circumstances.

Agile project management does not follow a sequential stage-by-stage approach. Instead, phases of the project are completed in parallel to each other by various team members in an organization. This approach can find and rectify errors without having to restart the entire procedure.

Lean Project Management

This methodology is all about avoiding waste, both time and resources. The principles of this methodology were gleaned from Japanese manufacturing practices. The main idea behind them is to create more value for customers with fewer resources.

There are many more methodologies and types of project management than listed here, but these are some of the most common. The type used depends on the preference of the project manager or the company whose project is being managed.

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IMPORTANCE OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Managing a project often requires a team of people with skills and abilities that complement each other and help to work towards reaching the goal of the project. The team, along with its project manager is responsible for planning, organizing, and monitoring project progress. Any project management professional will tell you that every project follows a project life cycle and certain project management steps that bring it from start to finish. Projects are a lot more than simply preparing resources and materials and require a deeper element of management.

Project management can be a hard skill to acquire, but most definitely comes with its benefits and it is well worth investing your time into learning the skill.

 Project management is important for the following reasons:

Clearly defines the plan of the project before it begins:

The importance of planning in project management cannot be ignored. The more complex project, the more scope there is for chaos. One of project management’s primary functions is to tame the chaos by mapping out a clear plan for the project from beginning to end.

Establishes an agreed schedule and plan:

Schedules help to eliminate delays or overruns and provide a plan to be followed for all those involved with the project.

Creates a base for teamwork:

People are required to work in a team on a project. This is due to team synergy benefits through the sharing and support of knowledge and skills. Bringing people together in this way inspires members of the team to collaborate on a successful project.

Resources are maximized:

Both human and financial resources tend to be expensive. Project tracking and project risk aversion ensure that all resources are used efficiently and are accounted for economically.

Helps to manage integration:

Projects that are completed within an organization are generally integrated with wider business processes and systems. Integration forms the value aspect of projects and their management.

Helps to keep control of costs:

Depending on the scope of the project, some projects can incur organizations significant costs. It is important therefore to keep on budget and to control spending. Project management greatly reduces the risk of budget overruns.

Helps to manage change:

Today, more than ever, change is something that all organizations face. Projects, during their running, also face changes and must be prepared to face such deviations from the original plan. Project management allows for effective change management and makes it less of a complex task.

Quality is continuously managed:

More so than ever, it is important to produce quality results. Project management helps to identify, manage, and control quality. Quality results make clients happy, which is a win-win situation for all involved.

The knowledge possessed by the project manager:

The more projects a business undertakes, the more knowledge it will acquire over time. This will serve as an asset to any business and project management helps to capture and retain knowledge.

Creates a learning opportunity:

Sometimes, projects work out perfectly and other times, projects fail miserably. Either way, much can be learned from previous experience and past mistakes can be avoided in the future. Project management ensures that these lessons are learned and applied in the future.

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ROLE OF PROJECT MANAGERS

A Project Manager might oversee the development or implementation of new software, the launch of a new product, or even the full-scale overhaul of an organization’s marketing strategy. They are generally responsible for the completion of a company’s most important projects, and as such, they need to have excellent leadership skills, coordination abilities, and motivational skills.

In addition to overseeing all aspects of project planning and execution, Project Managers will often be on hand to resolve issues and solve problems that arise during a project.

The best Project Managers can keep up with changing circumstances and find ways to motivate their project members.

Some of the responsibilities of project managers are as follows:

Planning everything from execution to delivery:

Ideally, a project manager must prepare a strategy to achieve more in less. By more I mean, more outcomes, more quality, and more client satisfaction, while less refers to fewer resources and less time. Thus, a project manager must find the quickest and easiest pathway toward accomplishing whatever it is that the client or the stakeholder wants to get to.

All in all, this project management role involves breaking the project into tasks, breaking down the tasks and subtasks, setting an appropriate schedule for the development of certain deliverables, defining milestones, and highlighting the project dependencies.

Directing the team to achieve a common goal:

Another one of the various project manager roles and responsibilities is keeping the team’s efforts aligned with everything that the organization wants to achieve. This would take serious effort so that you can develop a plan to support the team in reaching the goals easily. This would require you to provide everyone with the required motivation so that people can work to the best of their abilities. The project manager must organize their team such that they can showcase their full potential in the form of their work.

Sometimes they also have to fill in for other segments, say- ‘The HR’ department and perform certain tasks like- negotiating with the employee, making them understand their job profile, helping them understand their commitment towards any project, making bids where necessary and make sure that everything is in order and everyone is moving with the given timeline.

Delegating work effectively:

Managers need to take care of the basics like- is the team members’ competency up to the mark to achieve the desired goal, execute the plan according to the deadline given and set themselves as an example to other employees in the organization. Having friendly competition with other managers is okay but that shouldn’t turn into rivalry. Managers should be aware of their employees’ capabilities and work within those constraints.

Managing the resource of time:

A project manager can only shine in front of stakeholders and different clients when he has successfully delivered a project. He should be aware of the teams’ capability and should set the deadline accordingly

They need to develop a project that has the following features:

  • Objective

  • Plan of action

  • A set timeframe

  • Regular meeting of the given deadlines

  • Agenda control

Managing the deployment deliverables:

The project manager’s responsibilities also contain that the deadlines are always met and is not exceeding the decided expense.

Monitoring progress and tracking roadblocks:

Multiple projects at once make for a busy schedule for a project manager. After a project has begun, it is the PM’s responsibility to ensure that it is proceeding normally and that all tasks are being completed. Project managers use a range of methods, such as status reports, meetings and informal updates, to keep track of the work being done on a given project. Managers of projects may find relief from this responsibility by using an appropriate management solution.

Conducting project team meetings:

Scheduling regular meetings are difficult for all project managers, and it doesn’t work well for every project. However, practices like the Scrum framework suggest that there must be a 15-minute stand-up every day so that the project manager can establish a status quo within the team. You will find that conducting timely meetings, that follow a certain agenda is good for your project and will lead to success. The objective of the meeting should be met by communicating the rules of the project clearly to the entire team. The project managers should be ready from the beginning to prepare for meeting the objectives. They can set a meeting calendar and stick to it until there is an emergency to cancel the plan.

Establishing a shared vision:

A project manager should have a vision of where to go and the skills to understand the big picture related to any project. The vision should be conveyed to the entire team so that they understand the importance of their role to achieve the results. The team should understand the workload and make the possible efforts to convert goals into missions. The manager should set the appropriate tone for smoother sailing down the road.

Managing documentation and reports:

Finally, when the project is completed on time and within a budget, the project manager has to provide appropriate documentation to present the final reports to clients and identify the areas where there is a need for future development.

Creating a self-governing team:

In the era of Agile teams where every department and every team is becoming smarter and leaner through Agile practices, the project manager must learn new management methodologies and implement the same for their team.

Coordinating with the clients:

A given responsibility is also to be in touch with the clients. Before delegating and allocating tasks to their respective employees, they need to discuss the requirements of the project with clients and the stakeholders. A prime duty of these project managers will be that of getting the employees and clients on a common ground, where there is nothing hidden from them and the process of how the project is going to be accomplished.

The project manager would also be responsible for coordinating client and stakeholder evaluations of completed work to identify areas for improvement.

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PROJECT MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES

Communication and Collaboration

Developing a client-centric approach is a must. To achieve this it is necessary to communicate the goals and objectives to all the project stakeholders. It also needs to be conveyed to the project team members, managers, project sponsors and valued users.

Show enthusiasm towards the project by conducting regular meetings, for the project’s success and setting clear expectations. Provide consistent updates with real numbers and results to keep stakeholders engaged.

Monitoring and controlling project progress

Staying in sync with your team is a must when managing a project. Holding a weekly or twice-weekly stand-up with your team is a surefire way to align priorities, get feedback, and clear any roadblocks holding your team back. Define the parameters and criteria to measure the success of the project.

Managing project risks

Projects and tasks are all subject to different levels of risk. That’s why you should always have a risk response team.

They can help a project remain in the preferred green zone and avoid going in the yellow — or the dreaded red. Think of a risk response team as the first line of defense when problems occur.

Spend some time imagining worst-case scenarios, their solutions, and how you might prevent them from happening. Discuss this with your team and collate their inputs. Have an open discussion to become aware of any known issues affecting your project.

Not all uncertainties are bad. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for opportunities to deliver value beyond what’s expected. It’s important to conduct a thorough risk assessment and create a risk aversion plan for your project.

Hold a project retrospective

The project isn’t complete when the final deliverable is submitted. It’s complete once you’ve held a retrospective and recorded the lessons learned.

During the meeting:

  • Review what went well

  • Identify best practices for future use

  • Brainstorm other ideas for getting work done more smoothly.

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KEY CHALLENGES IN PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Scope creep

Scope creep occurs when a project’s scope grows beyond its original definition or goals. It typically happens when stakeholders ask for changes to the project. Any alteration to a project’s plan can cause confusion, increase the cost of resources, and make it difficult to meet deadlines.

If you can avoid scope creep, you can improve your chances of completing a project on time and within budget.

To prevent or manage scope creep, consider the following strategies:

  • Clearly define project requirements and goals.

  • Create a schedule that includes every step of the process.

  • Involve clients or stakeholders in project planning.

  • Use tools such as Gantt charts to plan and track projects.

  • Communicate to stakeholders how scope changes might affect deadlines and budgets.

  • Refuse project changes that might cause delays or unreasonable costs.

Poor communication

Strong communication is one of the keys to completing a project successfully. With well-developed written and verbal communication skills, a project manager can effectively give instructions, gather information, and update stakeholders. Otherwise, their team can become confused, leading to delays.

  1. Improve communication between all the parties involved in a project by:

  2. Using collaborative tools and project management software to update team members

  3. Giving frequent feedback concerning employee performance

  4. Developing a communication plan and status report schedule for stakeholders

  5. Doing team-building activities to improve relationships and communication between team members

  6. Being transparent about project progress

  7. Keep in mind that it may be necessary to adjust your communication methods to accommodate different communication styles

Unclear goals

Projects can be successful only if the team has well-defined and measurable goals to work toward. Ideally, every member of the team is aware of each project objective and the stakeholders’ exact expectations concerning each. Otherwise, they may spend undue time and resources trying to accomplish something that doesn’t provide the desired value.

Devise and communicate clear project goals by:

  1. Using the SMART method to set goals

  2. Determining the project’s specifications, including the timeline, before implementation

  3. Meeting with your team to define and discuss the goals

  4. Using project planning software to specify goals and each team member’s role in achieving them

  5. Identifying ways to monitor progress, such as with milestones

Poor budgeting

Smart financial planning and skillful cost management are essential for ensuring that you use funding appropriately. In contrast, poor budgeting may result in undesirable outcomes. Without a strong handle on money matters, you may find your team facing cost overruns, which is likely to displease the stakeholders and prevent the successful completion of the project.

Take these steps to avoid budgeting issues:

  • Plan your budget ahead of time, using realistic estimates.

  • Review similar projects to compare their budgets to yours.

  • Get advice from experts, such as software developers or quality assurance specialists, who are familiar with cost and time estimates for your type of project.

  • Reassign resources or change suppliers, services, or vendors as needed.

Skill gaps

We can encounter that the competency level needed to reach these desired goals is sometimes lacking in some employees. This situation is referred to as a skill gap. Any employee who is not able to execute the duties of their designation, then you can expect an equivalent gap between your project goals and project outcomes.

We can comprehend that these employees are capable of executing the projects’ goals based on:

  • Creating a list of the skills or intelligence required for the project.

  • Assessment of employees to understand who requires training.

  • Based on the assessment, distribute the tasks to the desired employee

  • Outsourcing or getting additional staff to finish the specialized tasks.

Insufficient risk analysis

A thorough risk analysis is required as it will help the project managers to understand which areas need to be worked upon to safeguard the given project. Though failure is an inseparable part of any project, addressing it initially is a must. For example- Rushing the analysis can lead to oversights that fail to foresee major obstacles. This can be one reason your project can fail.

Lack of accountability

Accountability refers to taking ownership of actions and their outcomes, particularly when it comes to mistakes. Thus, an accountable person is willing to face the consequences of what they’ve done and make every effort to resolve the subsequent issues that have arisen. When leaders and team members lack accountability, they can impede progress in a couple of ways. One is by damaging the morale of the team, which may absorb the consequences of a particular person’s mistakes. The other is by slowing productivity when project resources channel into the effort to identify the cause of a problem.

Improve your team’s accountability on a project by:

  • Assigning every team member clear tasks

  • Establishing a common goal and helping your team work toward it

  • Building accountability into the project’s workflow so team members understand their roles and responsibilities.

  • Leading by example so that your team members understand it’s acceptable to make mistakes if they take responsibility for them.

  • Building trust between the members of the team so everyone feels comfortable being honest with one another.

Stakeholder disengagement

Stakeholder engagement is the process by which a project’s stakeholders—those who have a vested interest in the project, such as the client—collaborate and communicate with the team.

The involvement of the stakeholders is important because they can provide input that guides the project toward the best possible outcome. Several of the other challenges that projects face, such as unclear goals and insufficient risk analysis, arise when the stakeholders aren’t sufficiently engaged.

  • Involve stakeholders in the project planning process.

  • Communicate with stakeholders frequently and give them regular project updates.

  • Directly ask clients for their feedback on every project phase.

Unrealistic deadlines

An unrealistic deadline is a project due date that is impossible or unreasonable to meet given the specifications and requirements. When a team faces unrealistic deadlines, they find themselves forced to condense their activities in such a way that compromises the quality of their work. As a result, the finished state of the project is likely to fall short of client expectations.

Make sure you set realistic deadlines by:

  1. Prioritizing tasks

  2. Building extra time into your deadline to account for potential obstacles

  3. Finalizing deadlines with relevant team members

  4. Discussing deadline concerns with stakeholders before starting the project

  5. Using a project calendar to plan and manage schedules

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FUTURE OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

With the global economy becoming more project-oriented, the practice of project management expands within industries that were traditionally less project-oriented; brightening up the future of project management. For example, legal, publishing, and professional services are now contributing to future trends in project management.

As per Project Management Institute (PMI), across the globe, a widening gap exists between the need for skilled project management workers by businesses versus the availability of professionals to fill those roles.

By 2027, businesses will need 87.7 million professionals in project management roles.

A shortage of qualified professionals is a huge risk for organizations requiring depending on them to implement strategic initiatives, drive change and deliver innovation.

For the 11 countries analyzed by PMI, this gap could result in a potential loss of some US$207.9 billion in GDP through 2027.

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TECHNOLOGY DISRUPTION AND IMPACT ON PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence and automation considerably impacted project management processes. Modern businesses use Artificial intelligence to automate manual project tasks and to receive project performance insights.

As per PMI’s exploration and findings, the digital transformation adopted by organizations and institutions during the onset of the Covid pandemic is now a norm. Most new-age businesses and even the existing ones now redefine core business models to gain a competitive advantage in the fast-changing marketplace.

Now, technologies like cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and AI are used regularly by businesses to enhance the customer experience, boost employee efficiency, and improve project outcomes.

Project management software that is used for managing projects uses AI for complex scheduling, data visualization, and interactive dashboards to provide information and insights that help decision-makers to take fast, better and accurate decisions.

PMI predicts that future project management will keep seeing companies continuing to invest in AI for risk management, decision-making, knowledge management and data analytical skills, and many other tasks.

Global brands have already started using matured digital transformation strategies and will continuously keep reskilling and upskilling the workforce, training IT and data specialists to support the proper and meaningful application of AI.

AI is used by businesses to ensure successful project completion in the following ways:

  • Getting performance insights

  • Estimation and prediction analysis and improvement

  • Improve and support decision management

  • Data visualization

  • Doing risk analysis

  • Optimized resource scheduling

  • Another emerging area that is gaining traction is the field of emotion AI, which enables machines to read and respond to human emotions.

Data and Analytics

We can say that data and analytics are the backbones of any given project. Managers must make sure to incorporate these data insights to make fast and informed decisions that contribute to business growth.

Having a major impact on project management is Big Data analytics. It assists in many areas like- quality management, client and many other areas. An excellent team is created when it comprises – people who have the necessary skill sets, proper team size and team formation.

A successful project cycle will be decided on the outcome of the project. This will force business and project managers to better guide project managers.

Hybrid Approach

This method is ingenious since it takes the best features of both traditional and agile procedures. Project managers use a range of techniques to solve complex problems and keep track of multiple projects at once. With a hybrid architecture, team members can more easily share information and work from a single location. Moreover, the strategy guarantees that everyone is working toward the same firm goals, which boosts output.

The hybrid approach can also mean combining different project management strategies with team members from multiple backgrounds and working methods to drive engagement, efficiency, and stability.

Caring for mental health

Working in a stressful environment with the constant feeling of being chased by deadlines may cause severe mental consequences. That’s why project managers must take special care of their and their team members’ mental health and always make it a top priority. Creating a supportive atmosphere where the needs of each team member are taken care of, and no one feels left out.

Change management

Changes in large organizations, especially those centered around digital products, are inevitable. According to Gartner’s report, the average company makes 5 company-wide changes in 3 years.

With that being said, we can see that change is the only constant, and practically every company introduces some more or less complex innovations. And since change needs to be perfectly planned and well-executed, the market demand for change managers is growing each year.

Project management became a highly digitalized field to the point where almost areas of PM’s work can be supported by various highly advanced tools and tech solutions.

No wonder PMs prefer using tools rather than doing more tasks manually and writing down every piece of information on paper. Organizations across the globe have started using various tools and apps.

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CONCLUSION

Together, the changing PM environment and the changing computing environment will bring about changes in PM software and in the way that PM is administrated. The result will be greater involvement of more people in contributing to the project process. We will see more effective computer support. We will see improved integration of information, as well as improved speed and effectiveness of communication. We will see PM software used as a hub of an expanded repository of management information.

If these developments are used to their potential, more project and business goals will be met. This will lead to more satisfied clients, stockholders, executives, and employees. However, if the practices and tools are implemented in an atmosphere of “business as usual,” the goals will not be reached, the software will become shelfware, and the undertaking will surely fail.

With the global economy becoming more project-oriented, the practice of project management expands within industries that were traditionally less project-oriented; brightening up the future of project management. For example- legal, publishing and professional services are now contributing to future trends in project management.

We at Ruskin Felix Consulting provide exceptional project management services which are well within your budget, please feel free to contact us on contact@ruskinfelix.com

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